UK in Full Force at National Women's Studies Association Conference

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2013) — At least 13 members of the University of Kentucky community will present their work and discuss their scholarship at the 37th annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association, to be held Nov. 7-10 in Cincinnati.


Several members of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department (GWS) are involved, as are students and faculty from the Departments of Appalachian Studies, Anthropology, Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, English, History and Sociology.

GWS Chair Karen Tice will be headlined in an innovative feature of this year’s conference, the Authors Meet Critics roundtable. It is an event in which authors of recently published books hear and respond to comments from experts in the field. Tice’s award-winning book to be discussed is "Queens of Academe: Beauty Pageants, Student Bodies, and Campus Life," published by Oxford University Press.

The overall theme of the conference this year is “Negotiating Points of Encounter.” Feminist scholars from academia and beyond will meet to share recent scholarship with each other and promote networks among students, faculty and the communities that these scholars study.

One of the major events for UK’s scholars will be two discussions featuring Appalachian feminist scholarship, consisting mostly of faculty and students from the University of Kentucky. Designed by GWS Professor Carol Mason, this pair of panels provides a chance for our scholars to demonstrate their work within the debated and geographically close region of Appalachia.

The twin panels, “Appalachia Wrong” and “Appalachia Strong” contain presentations that rely on a variety of research methods and theories. Despite different disciplinary backgrounds, each panelist will communicate across those divides, resulting in a rich discussion of representations of Appalachia.

There will be plenty of familiar topics in the symposium, from debates about natural resource extraction in Appalachia to the problematic stereotypes frequently ascribed to residents of the region. And the presenters also use some familiar sources, such as the reality TV series “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” mentioned in Tice and Brown Deel’s paper.

Filmmaker Mimi Pickering will discuss making her feature documentary, “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot”, which tells the story of a midcentury civil rights leader based in Louisville. Mason invited the Appalshop filmmaker to join UK scholars because, she said, Pickering’s film is “a great opportunity to show Kentucky students and people from outside Kentucky just what impact a single woman activist can do.”

Professor and Anthropology Department Chair Mary Anglin will discuss the role of documentary films in either promoting or dismantling problematic stereotypes. To do this, she will contrast the popular one-hour Diana Sawyer documentary, “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains” (the problematic depiction) with a collaboratively written play, “Higher Ground,” performed by Appalachian residents.

Other participants in the Appalachian symposium include Ann Kingsolver, director of the Appalachian Center and professor of anthropology, Tammy Clemons, a graduate student in anthropology, and Shannon Bell, assistant professor of sociology.

Other UK faculty-student collaborations will be highlighted at NWSA. Melissa Stein, assistant professor of GWS, organized a symposium, “Reproducing Race: Sex, Bodies, and Boundaries of Whiteness.” Stein is working with two doctoral students in the History Department, Dana Johnson and Evelyn Ashely Sorrell, and these two will present in Stein’s symposium. Mason will be the moderator for this UK-dominant panel.

Tice, Mason and other GWS faculty will be attending some of the student sessions and looking to meet potential students interested in pursuing a truly interdisciplinary Ph.D. at UK. The doctoral program in gender and women's studies is only a year old and the department already has several stellar graduate students in this charter cohort. Two of the first-year students, William Korinko and MaryAnn Kozlowski, will be presenting some of their ongoing research at NWSA.

“It’s really exciting that we’re able to be among only approximately 20 public and private universities that are offering a Ph.D. program and I think that’s because we have had so much involvement across campus from faculty and students that we were able to argue to open a Ph.D. program,” Tice said.