By: BEKKA OXLEY
The 26th annual women’s and gender studies conference, “Representations and Realities,” is coming to IU South Bend this year. The IU-wide conference will be on April 3 and 4 and feature interdisciplinary student research and creative work.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in the Education and Arts Building, there will be a theatrical preview of “Kiss Me, Kate,” a musical based on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” IUSB’s theater students will perform scenes from the play that are interesting or problematic for gender staging. After the preview, conference-goers will have a chance to talk about the work that goes into staging the musical. There will also be a reception after the play on Thursday night.
On Friday, April 4, on the first floor of Wiekamp Hall, students will begin presenting their research. At noon, there will be lunch in the University Grill accompanied by a keynote speech from Jolie Sheffer, professor of English and affiliated faculty in American culture studies at Bowling Green State University.
“Jolie Sheffer is going to be giving a keynote based on discovering her research interests as an undergraduate, and then following that research interest as it led her to graduate school, a Ph.D. and writing her first book,” said April Lidinsky, director and associate professor of women’s and gender studies at IUSB. “It’s the autobiography of herself as a researcher, which I think is really kind of perfect for this conference.”
There will be several sessions in which student work is presented. There will be a number of different ways students present their work on a dynamic scale of topics.
“Topics that people are presenting on are really wide-ranging and interesting,” Lidinsky said. “There will be some based on literature from the medieval period to the present, pop culture, queer theory and creative presentations. It’s really the full gamut of interdisciplinary research on gender.”
Lidinsky also said that she’s excited to see not just the presentations, but also the exchange and collaboration that will happen between students from different campuses.
“I think it’s a great model for our campus to show up for the presentations of students from other campuses,” Lidinsky said. “It’s really great to see what other people are doing and it’s a networking opportunity. People are thinking about graduate school and research, so a lot of the conference is not what happens while you’re just listening to presentations or giving presentations, but meeting people from other campuses and exchanging emails.”
IUSB senior Lexi Millard, who is majoring in English and minoring in women’s and gender studies, has volunteered at the conference before, presented research and will be presenting again this year. Their presentation will include ways to simplify and teach queer theory to other people.
Millard said that the conference means a lot to all the IU students participating.
“It gives us all a means and a space to speak out, both on our research and our own lives,” Millard said in an email. “Gender-based struggles remain a huge deal in our society. Women still don’t have all the rights and privileges as men, and transgender issues are also finally coming to the forefront thanks to the hard work of trans women of color like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. The Gender Studies Conference provides students the opportunity to present their work, talk about these issues and start finding ways to make our world a better place to live in.”
Students interested in sitting in on sessions all day April 4 should register on the women’s and gender studies website. Students interested in only sitting in on a few sessions that day do not have to register. They are free to come and go, bring their own lunch and listen to the presentations. Those students should check the website for a full schedule of the day in order to see which presentations they would like to sit in on. To register or to keep updated on the presentation schedule, visit the website at www.iusb.edu/wgs-conference/index.php.
There is also a volunteering opportunity available to students interested in helping out at the conference. Those interested should email April Lidinsky at email@example.com.