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In this issue: 1. Message from the Director | Upcoming IGSF Events | 3. Report on Events last year | 4. New IGSF appointments | 5. Visiting Scholars | 6. Postdoctoral Research Report | 7. Report on Women’s Studies | 8. Staffing changes | 9. Courses offered this academic year

Fall 2012

1. Message from the Director

By Carrie A. Rentschler

I am delighted to be starting my second year as Director of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, in what promises to be an especially exciting time here at the Institute. I am especially excited to meet our incoming graduate and undergraduate students, and to welcome this year’s Visiting Scholars, who continue to enrich the international research focus and reputation of the Institute. This fall, Prof. Stacy Gillis joins us as the IGSF Muriel Gold Visiting Scholar. She is visiting from Newcastle University in the U.K. and will be conducting research on gender, the forensic and the figure of the corpse in detective fiction. Please stay tuned for more information about a lecture she will be giving this fall, and an event, “The Future of Feminist Theory,” that she will be helping us host with the journal Feminist Theory on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28th. In the winter term, we will be welcoming another Visiting Scholar, Prof. Yvette Taylor from London South Bank University, also in the U.K. Prof. Taylor is Head of the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, and her research examines issues of class, gender and sexuality around the geographies in which people live and work in recessionary times. We are excited about exploring opportunities for research collaboration with her and her colleagues at the Weeks Centre. Stay tuned for announcements next term about a lecture she will be giving on her current research.

In addition to our new students and Visiting Scholars, we are pleased to announce some new staff additions this year, and to wish Natalie Amar, the Director of Communications at IGSF, a very happy, and recuperative, maternity leave. Caili Woodyard, our former Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator, has taken over the helm as Director of Communications. We are excited to work with her in this important new role. Caili has already spearheaded some great changes to our website and helped launch the IGSF’s social media presence, and more exciting changes are afoot. We encourage you to follow our twitter feed (@IGSFMcGill) and Facebook page (IGSF, McGill) to stay up-to-date on our current and upcoming events. Samantha Thrift joined IGSF as Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator in mid-July. She comes to us with lots of experience in student advising and a strong background in feminist and gender studies. I hope you will join me in welcoming her to IGSF! Wilson Blakley, our Administrative Coordinator, continues to oversee the technical and administrative duties of the Institute and plays a crucial role in keeping the IGSF ship running smoothly.

In other important news, Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld, Faculty Lecturer with IGSF, this fall begins a three-year term as Chair of Women’s Studies and the Women’s Studies Academic Advisory Committee. We thank Prof. Vrinda Narain for her incredible leadership and service as Chair this past year, and we look forward to continuing our work with her on the Women’s Studies Academic Advisory Committee. In January 2012, Prof. Lloyd Whitesell was quietly feted in as Chair of our academic program in Sexual Diversity Studies. His expertise in this area of scholarship and his significant experience as former Chair of Music will be a boon to our program, teachers and students. Dr. Lucas Crawford, a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at IGSF, will be teaching the course SDST 250 “Introduction to Sexual Diversity Studies,” and we are thrilled that our students will get to work with him. Jason Behrmann also begins his first full year of a postdoctoral fellowship at IGSF. We are pleased to have such dynamic scholars on board.

The academic year ahead promises to be an especially vibrant one. IGSF is organizing and hosting an international symposium, “Girlhood Studies and the Politics of Place: New Paradigms of Research” on October 10-12, 2012 at Thomson House and at IGSF. The symposium will feature several key scholars in the field such as Marnina Gonick, Sarah Banet-Weiser and Claudia Mitchell, among others, and will host a public keynote lecture on October 10th by Prof. Catherine Driscoll of the University of Sydney, Australia. Please check the events page on our website for more information on the symposium and for free registration for the events associated with it. On November 16th, IGSF is co-organizing a graduate and post-graduate conference “Whose Business is Risk?” in association with Studio XX and The HTMlles 10 “Risky Business” feminist media art + digital culture event being held November 10-18, here in Montreal. We are thrilled to be working with The HTMlles, Studio XX and our co-organizers at Media@McGill. We look forward to a lively set of talks by student researchers, activists and artists.

This year we are launching a new activity at IGSF to nurture more opportunities for high-level research exchange and interaction among faculty and graduate and post-graduate students. Once a month IGSF will be hosting an informal social hour for this purpose, and our first one is scheduled for Wednesday October 24th. We encourage interested grad students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to join us for conversation and refreshments. Upcoming in the winter term, IGSF will help host a talk by Prof. Natalie Zemon-Davis and a panel discussion on transgenderism and law that will feature Dean Spade, Sharon Cowan and Miriam Smith. Our popular Esquisses lunchtime series continues this year, with talks by Prof. Jenny Burman of Art History and Communication Studies and Prof. Sandra Hyde of Anthropology scheduled for the fall. Talks by Prof. Jon Soske of History and Classical Studies and Prof. Jessica Ruglis of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology are scheduled for the winter term. Prof. Burman will launch this year’s series on October 30th with her talk “Dangerous Geographies: The Social Abandonment of Racialized Women and Containment Zones in Los Angeles and Vancouver.” Sign up early to reserve a seat!

Finally, I would like to invite everyone to our annual IGSF Welcome Reception on Wednesday September 19, 2012. Please join us for wine, cheese, crackers and good conservation as you reconnect with friends and colleagues on campus and meet our new students, faculty, staff and program Chairs.

I look forward to the year ahead. Every day I relish the opportunity I have to work with our amazing staff, students, faculty and colleagues here at IGSF. Together we continue to build the Institute into the vibrant interdisciplinary space of collaboration and dialogue it is. If you have ideas you would like to share with me about the Institute, I am keen to hear them. We hope you will join us at our many events!

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2. Upcoming IGSF Events

Please register for events at: IGSF Events

IGSF Welcome Reception

Wednesday, September 19th, 4-6pm, at IGSF, 3487 Peel Street, second floor Please join us for our annual Welcome Reception to celebrate the new academic year. Stop by for conversation over a glass of wine and other refreshments. Everyone is welcome.

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Girlhood Studies and the Politics of Place: New Paradigms of Research
Wednesday, October 10th – Friday, October 12th
at Thomson House and IGSF
Keynote Speaker: Catherine Driscoll, Associate Professor, University of Sydney, Australia and one of the founders of the international field of Girlhood Studies.

IGSF is thrilled to be organizing a Girlhood Studies symposium in collaboration with the Girls Action Foundation and Justice for Girls. The event is funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant and the generous support of the Dean of Arts Development Fund, the Mini Beatty Memorial Fund, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), Media@McGill, the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, the Department of English, Professor Claudia Mitchell, Professor Carrie Rentschler and the William Dawson Scholar of Feminist Media Studies Fund.

The symposium will feature free panels with speakers that include: Sarah Banet-Weiser, Sheila Batacharya, Geraldine Bloustien, Susan Cahill, Caroline Caron, Cora-Lee Conway, Asia Czapska, Sandrina de Finney, Tatiana Fraser, Alison Fyfe, Marnina Gonick, Amy Hasinoff, Yasmin Jiwani, Teresa Sue Lea, Loren Lerner, Katie MacEntee, Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, Lena Palacios, Shauna Pomerantz, Rebecca Raby, Lysanne Rivard and Pamela Teitelbaum.

Here is a taste of what the symposium will have to offer:

Wednesday, October 10th
1:00pm: Panel presentations by Sarah Banet-Weiser, Marnina Gonick and Claudia Mitchell
4:00 pm: Public Keynote Lecture  
"Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do: Place, Desire, and Country Girlhood"
By keynote speaker Catherine Driscoll.
Thursday, October 11th
Morning: Panels
Afternoon: Special Event
"HearSay, HereSay, HerSay: A Photovoice Odyssey of Girl Identity"
With Girls' Action Foundation and featuring the Girls' Media Club
Followed by further panels and a vernissage
Friday, October 12th
Morning: Panels

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Whose Business is Risk?
Friday, November 16th 9:00am – 5:00 pm, at Thomson House
IGSF is pleased to collaborate with Media@McGill, The HTMlles 10 and Studio XX for this day-long graduate and post-graduate conference, associated with The HTMlles 10 RISKY BUSINESS Feminist festival of media arts + digital culture (November 10 - 18, 2012). The HTMlles is an international platform dedicated to the presentation of women’s, trans and gender non-conforming artists’ independent media artworks from all facets of contemporary technological creation. The conference “Whose Business is Risk?” seeks to critically respond to current deployments of risk, the notion of risk society and the conceptualization of “at risk” populations. It promises to be a fascinating, interdisciplinary exploration of themes related to risk and business by academics, activists and artists alike. Stay tuned for other possible encounters with artists and exhibits planned during the week of the RISKY BUSINESS festival.

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Is Feminism Dead in a Democratic Latin America?
Jane S. Jaquette, Emeritus Professor of Politics and of Diplomacy and World Affairs, at Occidental College
Monday, October 15th, 10:30am, Omni Mont-Royal Hotel, Salle Pierre-de Coubertin, 1050 Sherbrooke St W
Organized by the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID), with co-sponsorship from IGSF

Reception with Raewyn Connell, sociologist and University Chair at the University of Sydney, and renowned scholar of gender, masculinity, sexuality and class.
Wednesday, October 31st, 4:00-6:00pm, at IGSF
Please join IGSF and Prof. Peta Tancred in welcoming the celebrated Raewyn Connell for an afternoon reception.

She Had a Laugh Like a Beefsteak
Susan Stilton , Los Angeles-based, multidisciplinary artist
Tuesday, November 6th, 5:30pm, Arts Building, W-215
Organized by the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, with co-sponsorship from IGSF, Media@McGill and the Department of English

The Future of Feminist Theory
Wednesday, November 28th, Afternoon, at IGSF
IGSF is very excited to be organizing an afternoon event with Stacy Gillis, managing editor of the journal Feminist Theory and the Muriel Gold Visiting Scholar at IGSF. Graduate students, post-graduates, and faculty members are invited to attend a panel session on the future of publishing in feminist theory with Professors Ann Braithwaite, Anna Feigenbaum and Stacy Gillis followed by a lecture by Prof. Myra Hird of Queens University. Please join us for the discussion!
Followed by an IGSF Social Hour (refreshments will be served)

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IGSF Social Hour

*NEW* Are you a graduate student, post-graduate, or a faculty member whose research engages with issues of gender &/ sexuality &/ feminist studies? Join us for this *new* monthly social event. Meet other academics with similar research interests over a glass of wine and other refreshments!

Wednesday, October 24th, 4:00-6:00pm, at IGSF
Wednesday, November 28th, Following 'The Future of Feminist Theory', at IGSF
Wednesday, December 12th, 4:00-6:00pm, at IGSF

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IGSF’s very popular lunch time series is back for a third year with an exciting line-up for the fall term! As in the past, lunch will be provided and registration will be limited and mandatory. Updates: www.mcgill.ca/igsf.
PLACE: IGSF Seminar Room 3487 Peel Street, 2nd floor.

Dangerous Geographies: The Social Abandonment of Racialized Women and Containment Zones in Los Angeles and Vancouver
Tuesday, October 30th, 12:30pm
Jenny Burman, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies

Performing the Lost Generation: The Malleable Addict in China
Tuesday, November 20th,
Sandra Hyde, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Policing Boundaries: Gender and Genre in Early British Detective Fiction
Tuesday, December 4th,
Stacy Gillis, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Newcastle University, UK and IGSF Muriel Gold Senior Visiting Scholar.

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3. Report on Events last year

Public Talk and Exhibit by Cynthia Hammond on the Suffragettes in Bath

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, Cynthia Hammond, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Concordia University, gave a moving public talk entitled “Architects, Angels, Activists: Interdisciplinary Feminist Research as Urban Intervention” to a full house. Hammond outlined her experiences doing research and performance artwork in Bath, England. She described the events which led to her discovery of a series of photographs of key members of the suffragette movement, mostly taken during post-imprisonment recuperative stays at an arboretum. After the talk, everyone proceeded to IGSF for a vernissage of a selection of those photographs, featuring such famous figures as Annie Kenney and Adela Pankhurst who were central to the feminist cause. The exhibition, “Suffragettes in Bath: Activism in an Edwardian Arboretum” was curated by Hammond and one of her Bath collaborators, Dan Brown, and was first shown in Bath in 2011. Its display at IGSF through the end of April, 2012 marked the exhibits’ Canadian premiere. The photographs provide a fascinating window onto the social context of the suffrage movement within a cultural landscape the suffragettes created with shrubs, trees, and flowers in pre-WWI Somerset. It was an honour for IGSF to host Cynthia Hammond and the “Suffragettes in Bath” exhibit.

Misrepresentation: Women, Girls, Power and the Media

IGSF hosted Montreal’s premiere screenings of the 2011 award-winning documentary film Miss Representation on Thursday February 9, 2012 in conjunction with Media@McGill. We hosted four screens to accommodate the large audience interest in the film’s debut. Screenings were followed by a panel discussion based on issues raised in the film. Journalist, co-founder of rabble.ca, Winter-Eaken Visiting Scholar in Canadian Studies, at MISC and Women’s Studies Course Lecturer Judy Rebick was the moderator for the lively and engaging discussion which ensued. Panelists included: Anne Lagacé-Dowson, Journalist and Radio talk show host at CJAD; Francine Pelletier, Journalist and Founder of La Vie en Rose; and Martine Vallée, Director of Social & Consumer Policy at CRTC. The panel discussion was followed by a bustling reception. IGSF would especially like to thank Media@McGill for their support and assistance and the many student volunteers who made it the successful and exciting event it was!

Graduate Student Conference: The Body

The Body Conference poster

IGSF’s first ever graduate student conference “The Body: New Paradigms, Perspectives and Practices” convened on Thursday November 3rd, 2011 for a day of engaging cross-disciplinary talks and panel discussions facilitated by McGill faculty. Students from the Departments of Art History and Communication Studies, English, Music, and the School of Architecture delivered talks on topics ranging from the visual culture of cancer to histories of singer training, the architecture of gynecology, and an ethnography of caregivers’ bodily movements, among other fascinating subjects. Thanks to Prof. Annmarie Adams, Director of the School of Architecture, for midwifing the conference into being, to Professors Jennifer Fishman, Myriam Gervais, Eric Lewis, Nathan Grant Smith and Alanna Thain for serving on the organizing committee and to Professors Annmarie Adams, Lisa Barg, Jennifer Fishman, Karen Houle, Amelia Jones, Carrie Rentschler, and Alanna Thain for their critical responses to the conference talks. We also thank members of the audience, who packed the house for every panel!

Public Lecture by Judy Norsigian

On October 27th, 2011, IGSF welcomed Judy Norsigian to McGill University. Norsigian is Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves and a leader in the women’s health movement. She delivered an inspiring evening lecture to a packed audience of over 150 students, university and community members. Her talk focused on activist strategies for responding to violence against women within the context of transnational sex trafficking, and was followed by a lively Q & A session on how to mobilize those strategies. The talk was supported by Montreal’s own Women Inspiring Next Generations (WINGS), a community group that links women’s education and charitable funding. As a result of the event, funds were donated on behalf of WINGS to the Rescue India Foundation through Childcare International. IGSF’s first charitable event was a great success, and we look forward to working again with WINGS.

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4. New IGSF appointments

IGSF Board
The membership of the IGSF Board has been reconfigured in order to align itself with our existing by-laws. One result of this is a reduction in the number of faculty who had up until now been serving on the Board. For this reason, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Annmarie Adams (School of Architecture), Allen Hepburn (Department of English), Julia Krane (School of Social Work), Brian Lewis (Department of History) and Andrea Tone (Department of History and Social Studies of Medicine) for their time serving on the IGSF Board over the last few years. Their participation on the Board has been absolutely essential to the establishment and growth of the Institute, and we are very grateful for their service to IGSF in this capacity. Thanks too, to Marguerite Deslauriers (Department of Philosophy), Robert Leckey (Faculty of Law) and Vrinda Narain (IGSF, Women’s Studies and Faculty of Law) and Cheryl Thomson (graduate student representative, Communication Studies) who have agreed to serve on the Board for this academic year: we are in good hands!

Carrie Rentschler, Director IGSF
After having been appointed Interim Director in September 2011, Prof. Carrie Rentschler, William Dawson Scholar of Feminist Media Studies in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, has since committed to a 3.5-year term as Director, commencing January 2012 and ending July 2015, for a total of 4 years as Director of IGSF! In light of this commitment, Carrie has moved her office to the Institute, making IGSF her main point of contact on campus. We are thrilled to have her! (See above for her welcome message for the fall)

Elizabeth Groeneveld, Faculty Lecturer, Chair Women’s Studies Program
Elizabeth Groeneveld has accepted a reappointment as Faculty Lecturer and will again be teaching the majority of our core Women’s Studies courses. This year, she has also taken on a 3 year appointment as Chair of the Women’s Studies Advisory Committee (WSAC) and the Women’s Studies Program. She will be teaching two new courses this year: WMST 301 “Feminisms and Sexualities” and WMST 402 “Theorizing Women’s Studies”. Welcome back ‘Prof. Liz’, it is great to have you! (See below for her report on the Women’s Studies Program)

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5. Visiting Scholars

Stacy Gillis is in residence at IGSF as the Muriel Gold Senior Visiting Scholar, from Aug 15 to Dec 15, 2012. Stacy is a Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University, UK. She is past Chair of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK & Ireland) and managing editor of Feminist Theory. She has published widely on third wave feminism and women's writing, as part of her broader research interests in the intersections of gender and genre. She is currently writing a book on the rise of the British detective novel, paying particular attention to such authors as Christie, Sayers and Allingham. Stacy Gillis will be giving a talk on her research on Tuesday December 4th – hold the date!

Yvette Taylor will be a Visiting Scholar at IGSF, from March to May, 2013. She is a Professor in Social and Policy Studies and Head of the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University. She is working on a project titled ‘Telling Queer Cares: Citizenship, Community, Capacity’ which continues her engagement with LGBTQ lives. This project explores the complexities of care in relation to a range of different queer spaces, subjects and stories of (contested) care: its purpose is to define, expand and ‘queer’ the concept, linking this to matters of citizenship, community and (in)capacity. It extends her interest in and commitment to sexualities studies and specifically to the field of LGBTQ research. Yvette was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, Rutgers University (2010-2011) and a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2012). We are looking forward to her time as a Visiting Scholar with us at IGSF and to her talk, entitled 'Excessive Presences? Class, Gender, Sexuality and the 'Fit' to Place' (date and time TBA).

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6. Postdoctoral Research Report

By Jason Behrmann
CIHR postdoctoral fellow at McGill’s IGSF (health axis) and the CORE Research Group

Jason is currently advancing several research projects since beginning his postdoctoral position at IGSF this summer. A collaborative effort with Maude Laliberté from the University of Montréal analyses patient triage policies that govern access to physiotherapy services. This project aims to call attention to the unjust attributes of physiotherapy triage, which primarily centres on identifying how these policies exclude women with chronic disabilities from needed services. Principles of feminist ethics and disability theory are subsequently used to develop a more just triage model that would promote a greater inclusion of disabled women within the healthcare system. A second research endeavour underway is his work on the medical tourism industry in relation to sexual and gender minority patients (LGBTI). Preliminary results from this project will be presented at the upcoming CIHR Excellence in Gender and Health Conference in Montréal this October. Thus far, an analysis of private health institutions that cater services to foreign patients has identified a slew of private healthcare providers around the globe that target the provision of health services to LGBTI patients (e.g., sex reassignment surgery, surrogacy for same sex couples). Additional ongoing projects focus on advancing scholarship in Queer Bioethics in relation to health policy development. One specific subject under analysis concerns North American policies governing the donation of human materials in medicine (e.g., blood, organs, sperm). This analysis aims to demonstrate why many of these policies are fundamentally flawed in terms of the exclusion of gay and bisexual men as eligible donors of these human materials that play a valuable role in today’s healthcare system.

By Lucas Crawford
SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at McGill’s IGSF and the School of Architecture

Since joining IGSF as a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in January 2012, Lucas has been very busy. In the Winter, he did a performance at the feminist art centre Studio XX, and finished his second short film – a piece about the politics of slender privilege – with collaborator Melisa Brittain. Its first screening took place at Montreal’s own Radical Queer Semaine. During this time, Lucas prepared an article about transgender and washroom aesthetics, which was accepted to The Journal of Homosexuality.

In the Summer, Lucas’ first short film, Threadbare, screened at queer film festivals in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Berlin, Regina, and Austin. Lucas spent five weeks in residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, where he completed a poetry manuscript as part of the Writing Studio. This manuscript focuses on the topic of Lucas’ postdoctoral fellowship: the High Line park in New York City. A poem from Lucas’s other poetry manuscript was recently accepted to The Antigonish Review. At his graduation in June, Lucas received the Governor General’s Gold Medal in recognition of the highest academic achievement of all graduating doctors.

After teaching an introductory English Literature course at the University of Alberta during July and August, Lucas returned to Montreal and has begun teaching SDST 250: Introduction to Sexual Diversity Studies. Looking ahead, Lucas has been invited to be a panelist at the University of Rutgers’ symposium on the state of transgender studies in April 2013. Lucas’ first publication, “Transgender Without Organs” (Women’s Studies Quarterly, 2008) will be reprinted shortly in both The Routledge Queer Studies Reader and The Transgender Studies Reader (Volume Two). In addition to preparing his High Line poetry manuscript and his dissertation for review, Lucas is currently co-writing an article for Fat Studies about the intersection of social class and the fat body in popular music videos.

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7. Report on Women’s Studies

By Elizabeth Groeneveld
Faculty Lecturer in Women’s Studies, Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee (WSAC) and Women’s Studies Program

I am delighted to be returning to IGSF for another year of teaching in the Women’s Studies Program at McGill. It is exciting to meet a new group of students in the Introduction to Women’s Studies (WMST 200) course, to see many familiar faces in my upper-level classes, and to teach more students than ever in the Honours/Joint Honours Colloquium (WMST 495). I am also very pleased to be taking on the role of Chair of Women’s Studies this year and look forward to productive conversations with faculty, staff, and students about the development of the Women’s Studies Program at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

We are pleased to offer a selection of courses this year that develop the transnational, intersectional, and self-reflexive approaches for which Women’s Studies is so well known. Undergraduates will find a range of great Special Topics courses from which to choose. In the Fall semester, Dr. Vrinda Narain will be teaching a course in ‘Women and the State in India: Colonial and Postcolonial Perspectives’ (WMST 401) and I will be teaching ‘Feminisms and Sexualities’ (WMST 301). In the Winter semester, we will offer ‘Gender and Disability’ (WMST 302) taught by Yolanda Munoz and I will teach a course entitled ‘Theorizing Women’s Studies’ (WMST 402).

In the Winter 2012 semester, the Women’s Studies Advisory Committee (WSAC) identified the expansion of the Graduate Option in Women’s and Gender Studies as a priority. To address this priority, a Sub-Committee on the Graduate Option has been created, and we will be working this year to help programs that do not currently offer the Graduate Option in Gender and Women’s Studies to integrate the Option into their curricula. WSAC meets regularly throughout the year and is composed of professors and undergraduate and graduate students from the Faculties of Arts, Education, Law, and Religious Studies, the Schulich School of Music, and the School of Social Work. Students and faculty are invited to contact any member of the advisory committee with input on the Women’s Studies programs. I look forward to working with our committee on what promises to be a very productive and engaging year!

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8. Staffing changes

The Seminar Room has a fresh coat of paint and a new art hanging system has been installed – we hope you will stop by the spruced up Institute this fall for one of our many upcoming events. IGSF has also seen the following recent staffing changes:

Natalie Amar, Director of Communications
Natalie Amar gave birth to a healthy baby girl, named Lielle Amar Lesk, on August 13th – Congratulations! We wish Natalie a restful and joyful maternity leave!

Caili Woodyard, Director of Communications
After three years as IGSF Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator, Caili has moved into the position of Director of Communications. This is an exciting new challenge and a great opportunity. She looks forward to being even more involved in the planning of events and direction of the Institute over the course of this next academic year.

Samantha Thrift, Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator
We are thrilled to welcome Samantha Thrift to IGSF in the position of Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator. Samantha has lived, studied, and worked in Montreal since 2002. She earned her doctoral degree in Communication Studies at McGill, completing a dissertation that examines the media practices and feminist politics of Canada’s largest second wave women’s organization, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Her research continues to investigate the role of mass media in constructing cultural memory of Canadian feminist movements. Samantha has worked with McGill students since 2006, when she spent three years as an assistant in McGill’s Office for Students with Disabilities. She has also taught at McGill since 2008, developing and instructing courses that engage feminist perspectives on a range of subjects, including media and memory, celebrity culture, and social movement studies.

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9. Courses offered this academic year

Our teaching programs offer students an exciting array of courses this year, including a new offering, “Theorizing Women’s Studies” being taught by Prof. Groeneveld in winter term. Peruse the list of courses below, and if you have any interest, please let us know!

SDST 250 ‘Introduction to Sexual Diversity Studies’ Prof. Lucas Crawford
WMST 200 ‘Introduction to Women’s Studies’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld
WMST 301 ‘Feminisms and Sexualities’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld
WMST 302 ‘Gender and Disability’ Prof. Yolanda Munoz
WMST 303 ‘Feminist Theory and Research’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld
WMST 401 ‘Women and the State in India: Colonial and Post-Colonial Perspectives’ Prof. Vrinda Narain
WMST 402 ‘Theorizing Women’s Studies’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld
WMST 495D1&D2 ‘Women’s Studies Honours/Joint Honours Colloquium’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld
WMST 601 ‘Feminist Theories and Methods’ Prof. Ada Sinacore
WMST 602 ‘Feminist Research Symposium’ Prof. Elizabeth Groeneveld

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Copyright (c) 2012 IGSF All rights reserved.

Fall 2011

In this issue: 1. Farewell from Outgoing Director (By Annmarie Adams) | Welcome from Incoming Interim Director (By Carrie Rentschler) | 3. New IGSF appointments | 4. Upcoming IGSF Events | 5. A Glimpse into IGSF Research (By Myriam Gervais) | 6. Visiting Scholars | 7. New This Year: IGSF Postdocs | 8. What I learned at IGSF: by Robert Leckey

1. Farewell from Outgoing Director

By Annmarie Adams

Welcome back to IGSF and to McGill University. I hope you have all had a healthy and productive summer of 2011. A warm welcome, too, to Prof Carrie Rentschler as the incoming Director of IGSF.

My own year as Director of IGSF has now drawn to a close. It was an extremely rewarding opportunity, and one that I will always cherish both professionally and personally. I would like to thank Professors Julia Krane and Brian Lewis for chairing, respectively, the Women’s Studies (WS) and Sexual Diversity Studies (SDST) Programs. Julia chaired the Women’s Studies programs through several years of major administrative and organizational changes while Brian initiated SDST as its very first Chair. I am grateful for your service and I know that McGill University is a better place for it.

While the directorship brought me a multitude of new experiences, a few really shaped the year for me. Perhaps the highlight for me was the establishment of the Esquisses lunchtime lecture series, intended to offer a backstage view of the cutting-edge work on gender, sexuality, and feminist issues studied at McGill University. Last year six speakers let us into their thinking process and their ongoing questions, inspiring us all to think outside our disciplines.

IGSF will welcome its first two postdoctoral fellows this year. University of Alberta graduate and Trudeau scholar Lucas Crawford will be with us for two years as a SSHRC postdoc, studying the “Public Architectures of Change: the Transgender Life of the High Line Park.” Jason Behrmann also joins IGSF as a CIHR postdoctoral fellow, bringing backgrounds in science, bioethics, and public health policy. He will study the legitimacy and significance of policies that ban men who have sex with men as eligible donors of human biological materials for transplantation and assisted reproduction.

Finally, this fall we will host a university-wide student conference on The Body, intended to explore the ways our five research axes intersect. On November 3, thirteen graduate students working on the body from various perspectives will present their research at Thomson House; faculty members from different departments than the students will respond. It promises to be an outstanding event.

I know IGSF under Carrie Rentschler will continue to nourish and facilitate interdisciplinary research and teaching at McGill University. I hope to see you all at the events planned for the fall.

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2. Welcome from Incoming Interim Director

By Carrie A. Rentschler

I am excited to be taking on the Directorship of IGSF, at this point in an interim capacity. I look forward to the year ahead, to meeting our new students, faculty, visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows, to working with our amazing staff here at IGSF, and to building the Institute through collaboration and dialogue. If you have ideas you would like to share with me about the Institute, I am keen to hear them.

The academic year ahead promises to be an especially vibrant one at the Institute. Judy Norsigian, Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves will be delivering a lecture on October 27th, “Preventing Violence in Women’s Lives,” about the changing conditions that impinge on women’s health and well being. Norsigian has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show and NBC Nightly News, and we can’t wait to host her here at McGill University. We are pleased to be organizing this event together with the Montreal community group, Women Inspiring Next Generations (WINGS). On November 3rd, the IGSF will host its first, all-day interdisciplinary graduate conference “The Body: New Paradigms, Perspectives and Practices,” keynoted by Prof. Roderick A. Ferguson from the University of Minnesota. We look forward to a lively and groundbreaking series of talks and discussions from these events.

By popular demand, we will continue the Esquisses lunchtime series. Sign up early to reserve a seat! Talks in the series this fall include a line up of three outstanding speakers: Nathalie Cooke from English, Thomas Schlich from Social Studies of Medicine, and me. Our seminars and visiting scholars this year will enrich the international research focus of the Institute. Karen Houle from Guelph University and Lisa Adkins from Newcastle University in Australia will join us as Visiting Scholars to work on their current research projects while in residence. Please visit our website www.mcgill.ca/igsf for up-to-date information on all of our events.

I hope you will join me in welcoming our visitors and our new Chairs and faculty lecturer to the Institute, to the University and Montreal. Vrinda Narain is taking over as the Chair of Women’s Studies, and Elizabeth Groeneveld joins McGill this fall as IGSF faculty lecturer. Thanks to Julia Krane and Brian Lewis for their dedicated years of service chairing our teaching programs in Women’s Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies. We offer a fond farewell to faculty lecturer Elizabeth Engebretsen, who has taken up an exciting new post-doctoral position in Finland.

Finally, I would like to thank Annmarie Adams, who was called away from the IGSF to take up her new role as Director of the School of Architecture. Annmarie made a lasting impact on the Institute’s intellectual life and culture. She may be moving across campus, but we hope to see her regularly around IGSF and at our many great events this academic year. She will be greatly missed by all of us.

I look forward to seeing you at our many events!

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3. New IGSF Appointments

Vrinda Narain, Chair Women’s Studies Program

Jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and to IGSF, Vrinda Narain now has accepted the position of Chair of the Women’s Studies Programs, effective August 1, 2011. Professor Narain succeeds outgoing Chair Julia Krane. In addition to her joint appointments at two McGill faculties, Narain is also a Research Associate in the Department of Afroasiatic Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa. As a lawyer, she has practiced in the areas of family law, laws relating to women, constitutional law, corporate law and administrative law. She is the author of two books: Reclaiming the Nation: Muslim Women and the Law in India (University of Toronto Press, 2008) and Gender and Community: Muslim Women's Rights in India (University of Toronto Press, 2001). This fall Narain will be teaching WMST 401: Women and the State in India: Colonial and Postcolonial Perspectives. We are absolutely delighted that Professor Narain is willing to make this commitment to the Women’s Studies Programs at McGill University.

Elizabeth Groeneveld, Faculty Lecturer, IGSF

We are very pleased to welcome Elizabeth Groeneveld, the new Faculty Lecturer appointed to the Institute. Groeneveld holds a PhD in Literary Studies from the University of Guelph, where she completed her dissertation “Third-Wave Magazines and Feminist Public Cultures.” Her current research focuses upon the relationship between texts and textiles within feminist periodical publications, particularly zines. Her work appears in the Canadian Review of American Studies, the Journal of Gender Studies, and the edited collection Not Drowning, But Waving: Women, Feminism, and the Liberal Arts. Her book on late-twentieth and early twenty-first century feminist periodicals that made the transition from zine to magazine, Making Public Cultures: Feminist Periodicals on the Cusp of the Digital Age, is under contract with Laurier University Press. In the fall 2011 semester, she is teaching WMST 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies; WMST 301: Feminist Theories of Identity; and WMST 495: Honours/Joint Honours Colloquium.

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4. Upcoming Events (www.mcgill.ca/igsf/events)


IGSF Welcome Reception

In light of the current McGill – MUNACA labour disruptions,
the IGSF Welcome Reception planned for Sept. 22 is postponed.

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Public Lecture

Judy Norsigian, celebrated author, speaker and health advocate (Executive Director, Our Bodies Ourselves)

Preventing Violence in Women’s Lives:
Curbing Sex Trafficking and Other Attacks on Women’s Health and Well-Being

Thursday, 27 October, 2011, 7:30 PM, Leacock Building, Room 232

Organized by IGSF together with Women Inspiring Next Generations (WINGS). Suggested donation for those who are able: $25; $5-10 Students. All funds will go to The Rescue Foundation of India through Child Care International. India’s Rescue Foundation rescues, rehabilitates and repatriates girls and women who are trafficked from different parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Rescue Foundation is the largest NGO in India in saving human trafficking victims, and it is also the only NGO providing integrated services for these girls to integrate back into society.

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The Body: New Paradigms, Perspectives, and Practices

Thursday, 3 November, 2011, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Thomson House, McGill University

The Body Conference poster

The Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF) is pleased to hold an interdisciplinary graduate student conference on “The Body: New Paradigms, Perspectives, and Practices”. The conference will bring together the many graduate students at McGill University whose work addresses issues ranging from corporeality and the visual arts, body and performance art, architecture, music, and dance, to research on aging, scientific and medical approaches, plastic surgery, HIV-AIDS, food and nutrition, philosophies of beauty and fitness, literary and textual treatments of the body, queer space, disability studies, histories of the senses, geographies of sexuality and new media studies. “The Body” conference shares a keynote speaker, Prof. Roderick A. Ferguson and events with the Canadian Association of Cultural Studies (CACS) conference which McGill University is hosting November 4-6.

For IGSF this is the first in a series of planned events to explore the intersections of our five research axes: Health and Wellness; Equity and Justice; Representation, Performance, Culture; Historical Perspectives; and Policy and Practices. These wide-ranging areas of expertise emerge out of a variety of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, law, medicine, science, engineering and music as well as from interdisciplinary studies across these areas. Members of the research axes will serve as respondents to the paper presentations.

Organizing committee: Annmarie Adams, School of Architecture and IGSF; Jennifer Fishman, Biomedical Ethics Unit and the Department of the Social Studies of Medicine; Myriam Gervais, IGSF; Eric Lewis, Department of Philosophy; Nathan Grant Smith, Department of Education and Counselling Psychology; Alanna Thain, Department of English.

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Immigration and Women’s Health – An Overview of Theory and Research

Monday, 19 September, 2011, 2:30 PM, Faculty of Education, 3700 McTavish, room 613
Seminar by Julie Cwikel (Social Epidemiologist and Founder and Director of Ben Gurion University of the Negev's Center for Women's Health Studies and Promotion)

Immigration is a universal human phenomenon as people migrate in search of better job and living opportunities. This presentation reviews the unique aspects of women’s roles and highlights the ways in which biology and gender put women at risk of adverse outcomes in the migration process. The characteristics of Canada’s immigration policy shape the types of immigrants that seek to become citizens and thus the health care issues and problems of Canadian immigrant women. Results from over 20 years of research on women immigrants are presented in order to illustrate changes that occur in risk factors, health behavior and health status among immigrant women.


Female Genital Mutilation: A Case Study from Ethiopia

Monday, September 26, 2011, 3:00 PM, IGSF Seminar Room, 3487 Peel Street, second floor
Seminar by Asresash Demissie (Director of Women’s Affairs Office, Jimma University, Jimma Ethiopia)


Underdogs: Queer Theory and the Politics of the Outside

Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 5:30PM, Stewart Biology building, 1205 Avenue Docteur Penfield room S1/3
Seminar by Heather K. Love (R. Jean Brownlee Term Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania)
Organized by the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, together with IGSF


So You Think You Can Dance Straight? Same-Sex Ballroom and Reality Television

Thursday, 17 November, 2011, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, Leacock 927
Seminar by J. Ellen Gainor (Professor, Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, Cornell University, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs)
Organized with the Department of English


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IGSF’s very popular lunch time series is back with an exciting line-up for the fall term! As in the past, lunch will be provided and registration will be limited and mandatory.
Updates: www.mcgill.ca/igsf.
PLACE: IGSF Seminar Room 3487 Peel Street, 2nd floor.


Julia, Jehane & Nigella — The Self-Fashioning of Female Food Celebrities in the 20th Century

Tuesday, 11 October, 2011, 12:30 PM
Nathalie Cooke (Associate Provost (Academic Staff and Priority Initiatives) & Professor, Department of English)


Correcting Gender Behaviour through Ovary and Testicle Transplants 1900-1930

Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:30 PM
Thomas Schlich (Professor and Canada Research Chair in History of Medicine, Department of Social Studies of Medicine)


What Makes a Case? A Feminist Intervention into the Kitty Genovese Murder and the Construction of the Bystander Problem

Tuesday, 6 December, 2011, 12:30 PM
Carrie Rentschler (Interim Director, Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of Feminist Media Studies, Art History and Communication Studies)

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5. A Glimpse into IGSF Research

by Dr. Myriam Gervais, IGSF

femSTEP: Rural girls' and women's perspectives for engendering poverty reduction strategies

What is femSTEP?

femSTEP is an interdisciplinary research partnership between Canadian and African feminist scholars that enables senior and young researchers from diverse disciplines to converge around IGSF’s research axis of equity and justice. The main area of study is the crucial role that rural women and girls could play in determining the success of poverty reduction strategies. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and with complementary grants from IDRC and CIDA, this research programme focuses on innovative research techniques to bring forward rural women and girls’ perspectives on poverty issues in Africa. femSTEP is led by researchers from McGill University (Drs. Gervais, Mitchell and Ubalijoro) and housed at IGSF.

Seeing and hearing rural girls and women in Rwanda

Using a feminist visual participatory methodology called photovoice, femSTEP aims to make transparent what has remained invisible in poverty analyses by providing evidence of rural girls’ and women’s own visions for fighting poverty. With photovoice, the participants take photographs to explore and analyse the topic of research. The photos and the women’s own analysis of their needs highlight the real gender differences in poverty and bring a broader understanding of the issues at hand.

femSTEP’s research activities

Since its launch in 2009, femSTEP has developed and implemented a variety of hands-on training activities of the photovoice method with young Rwandan researchers, rural women and girls and university researchers and agronomic experts. Our first activity was an international seminar on participatory visual methodologies in Kigali, which brought together African and local Rwandan researchers and stakeholders (rural female leaders, the Rwandan Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion). Building on the success of this event, Drs. Myriam Gervais (IGSF), Claudia Mitchell (Education), Eliane Ubalijoro (ISID) provided specialized on-site training for the Rwanda Agriculture Board, the Gender Club of the Kigali Institute of Education and the National University of Rwanda.

Documentary video “I took this photo because...” Kigali, Rwanda

Because the project focuses specifically on gender realities and works within a cross-disciplinary approach, we believe it also offers a good training platform for graduate students and young scholars in Canada and Rwanda. A video demonstrating a photovoice training session with local Rwandan researchers provides an example of the material we developed for our website. Produced by femSTEP, directed by femSTEP research assistant Lysanne Rivard and edited by Paul Neudorf, this instructional video titled “I took this photo because...” follows three young African scholars who are putting into practice for the first time the photovoice methodology. They meet and discuss with market women at the Kimironko market in Kigali. The women share their own perspectives on the daily challenges they face as market women.

Les documents produits par femSTEP sont également disponibles en français. Pour plus d’information sur femSTEP, contacter Myriam Gervais à l’adresse suivante: myriam [dot] gervais [at] mcgill [dot] ca

IGSF aims to stimulate, support and disseminate research in gender, sexual diversity, and feminist studies. Our research activities are interdisciplinary, and involve academics both from across and outside of McGill University. Dr Myriam Gervais is an adjunct professor at IGSF.

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6. Visiting Scholars

IGSF welcomes two accomplished visiting scholars this year, from Guelph, Ontario and Newcastle, Australia, respectively. Please feel free to contact them at IGSF or at the addresses below and check our website for updates on seminars by these two scholars.

Karen Houle IGSF Muriel Gold Senior Visiting Scholar (Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph)

Karen Houle will be at IGSF from Oct 1, 2011 to April 15, 2012. Houle is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Guelph. In the past few years her work has explored and critiqued the ethics and politics of animality, fetal life, objecthood and the non-human. She has recently published work in French and English on the concept of 'becoming-plant' in Deleuze and Guattari. While at the IGSF she intends to complete a monograph on complexity and responsibility focusing on abortion and the abortion debate.

Lisa Adkins (BHP Billiton Chair of Sociology, University of Newcastle, Australia)

Lisa Adkins will be at IGSF from November, 2011 to February, 2012. Adkins is Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, Australia and prior to that was Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. In the field of gender and feminist studies she is best known for her work in feminist social theory and on the gendering of post-industrial economies. Some of her key works include Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity; Gendered Work, and Feminism After Bourdieu. Lisa’s current work involves a broad-ranging exploration of the restructuring of gender and labour after the recent global financial crisis. This exploration takes place with particular reference to the issues of time and value, including the extraction of novel forms of value in post-Fordism. Publications from this work have to date appeared in journals such as Feminist Theory and the Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research and in an edited collection Measure and Value (with Celia Lury) to be published by Blackwell in 2012. During the Fellowship period at IGSF Lisa will continue to work on this project. Specifically, she will be working on a manuscript in which she argues that current and future debates around gendered labour in post-Fordism should be framed not by issues of labour market participation, normatively defined forms of material success, or shifting governmental discourses, but by a direct confrontation with the restructuring of labour and capital in contemporary capitalism.

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7. New This Year: IGSF Postdocs

For the first time at IGSF, we are thrilled to welcome two postdoctoral researchers: Lucas Crawford and Jason Behrmann. Congratulations and welcome to IGSF!

Lucas Crawford, from University of Alberta, is the recipient of a SSHRC award and will work under the supervision of Annmarie Adams at the School of Architecture.

Jason Behrmann, from Université de Montréal, is the recipient of a CIHR fellowship and will work under the supervision of Nathan Smith, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology (ECP).

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8. What I Learned at IGSF

By Robert Leckey

Last 25 October, I was honoured to kick off Esquisses, the IGSF’s lunchtime series of works in progress. I presented a draft paper called “Lesbian Parenting, Law Reform, and the Reflective Claim.” It compares the assumptions underlying regimes that confer parentage on lesbian couples with social science research on the practices of lesbian parents. It also studies the complexities of claims that family law just needs to “catch up” with the way that lesbian couples already conduct their family lives.

The discussion that followed significantly broadened my perspective. I had raised the question as to whether to recognize the lesbian partner of a birth mother as a “mother” or as a “female parent” or “social parent.” One participant, a philosopher, questioned why legal drafters cling to a model of gendered parenthood for anyone.

Another participant, an architect, wondered whether I had considered what we might learn about perceptions of parental relationships from the material culture of such families, such as children’s artwork.

A follow-up exchange drew out parallels between architecture and law. In both fields, supposed authorities design structures to channel people’s lives. And in both fields, people often show considerable agency. They conduct themselves in ways that weren’t envisioned. For example, dwellers use the space in homes other than the architect had intended. In family law, gays and lesbians have shown considerable creativity in deploying legal rules to harbour their family arrangements.

The following occasions of Esquisses enriched my reflections in similar ways, ensuring that I’ll be at each session as the series continues in the fall 2011 term. I found confirmation of the distinct scholarly value of the IGSF, bringing together as it does scholars from varied disciplines with a commitment to interrogating gender and sexuality and foregrounding the experiences of women.

Robert Leckey is Associate Professor & William Dawson Scholar at the Faculty of Law. He is also Acting Director, Quebec Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law

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Copyright (c) 2011 IGSF All rights reserved.

Winter 2010

In this issue:

  1. Message from the Director
  2. Two Events from Last Term
  3. New IGSF Visiting Scholars
  4. Report on the Women’s Studies Program
  5. A Word from Elisabeth Engebretsen, Faculty Lecturer, Women’s Studies Program
  6. Upcoming Events

1. Message from the Director

Marguerite Deslauriers

Happy New Year and welcome back for what promises to be an exciting winter semester at the IGSF.

The first major event of this term for the Institute is the public lecture by Colm Toibin on February 11, co-sponsored with the Department of English. I have just finished reading Toibin’s most recent novel Brooklyn. The central character is a young woman, Eilis, who emigrates from Ireland, leaving her family, to live and work in Brooklyn. The book is about (among other things) the way in which gender often determines our possibilities for work, for family life, for sexuality. But it is not didactic, and this seems to me to make it even more valuable. As we read about Eilis, we see the constraints that gender imposes as they enmesh with other aspects of a life – what it is like to feel homesick, how difficult it can be to understand other people in a new place. We see gender as part of a life, in short, and not as an abstract idea.

We are delighted to be hosting Toibin’s lecture, as well as the symposium on the History of Sexuality (organized by members of the Historical Perspectives research axis) planned for March 4-5 with senior scholars Joan Cadden and Valerie Traub, and emerging scholars Sebastien Matzner and Ara Osterweil. Upcoming events also include talks in the seminar series by our visiting scholars Naima Benlarabi, Heidi Epstein, and Caroline Bassett as well as a seminar on teaching challenges by Heidi Epstein. For updated information on all of these, see our web-site www.mcgill.ca/igsf

We look forward to seeing you – and please keep bringing us your ideas, and alerting your graduate students and new colleagues to the research axes and their activities.

2. Events from Last Term

(a) “Feminist Visual Methodologies for Social Action” workshop, September 25, 2009, Thomson House, McGill University
(b) Making Contact: A Symposium on Affect, Sexuality and Power, October 29, 2009, Faculty Club, McGill

(a) Séminaire sur les méthodologies visuelles féministes et action sociale ou
How Feminism Might Change Methods

Par Myriam Gervais, IGSF

L’Institut Genre, sexualité et féminisme en collaboration avec Myriam Gervais et Claudia Mitchell, membres de son axe de recherche Équité et Justice, ont organisé le 25 septembre dernier un séminaire d’une journée dans le but de se pencher sur les méthodologies visuelles participatives dans le cadre de la recherche féministe. À titre de co-organisatrice, Myriam Gervais a inscrit les préoccupations de ce séminaire sur la contribution féministe aux méthodologies participatives dans le contexte du programme de recherche qu’elle dirige sur les questions de genre et de pauvreté rurale au Rwanda.

Un des buts poursuivis par ce programme est de mettre en lumière la manière dont les méthodologies visuelles participatives peuvent générer des données et des éléments d’interprétation essentiels à la compréhension des inégalités de genre et informer, de ce fait, les politiques et stratégies de réduction de la pauvreté en Afrique.


Taking in the photovoice exhibit How We See This Place: An Intergenerational Dialogue about Conservation around Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone (Jennifer Thomson, McGill University) at the “Feminist Visual Methodologies for Social Action” workshop


Participants engaged in discussion at the “Feminist Visual Methodologies for Social Action” workshop


The product of one table’s brainstorming at the participatory session of the workshop


Brinton Lykes, Associate Director, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College facilitates a morning workshop on the study and use of visual methodologies in participatory feminist research

As Guest Speaker, Brinton Lykes (Boston University) invited the participants to compile a list of violations of the rights of girls and women, as a way of reflecting on rights. Lykes described her research projects in Chile, Guatemala and the post-Katrina U.S., where she has built partnerships to re-think disasters, and how she situates her projects within the histories of particular places. She argued that participants involved in the research should be allowed to be part of analysis and that we must recognize and value diverse ways of knowing.

A panel discussion followed, with researchers who demonstrated the significance of feminist visual methodologies in their own work. The presentation of the three panelists offered a vibrant portrait of visual researcher’s challenges and highlights as well the importance of the contribution made by the intuitive work of the research participants. Based on a comprehensive treatment of visual data, their respective work made a compelling case for the validity and accountability of qualitative inquiry for feminist research approaches. Hourig Attarian (Concordia), Ran Tao (McGill), Sarah Flicker (York) all offered panel presentations, and Susann Allnut (McGill) acted as discussant.

Les méthodologies visuelles utilisées dans les approches participatives féministes en cherchant à comprendre et à permettre aux jeunes filles et aux femmes de s’exprimer sur leurs besoins et intérêts stratégiques, leurs valeurs et leurs solutions s’inscrivent d’emblée dans une démarche politique. As an illustration of the potential for visual participatory methodologies to lead to social action, a documentary film was the closing event of this one-day workshop. Where the Water Meets the Sky, supported by international non-profit organization, the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED), documents a participatory filmmaking project that provides women in a remote region of northern Zambia with the tools to share their own stories and perspectives. Their film, I’ve Found My Way, has been shown to over 3,000 people across the region.

(b) Making Contact: A Symposium on Affect, Sexuality and Power, October 29, 2009, Faculty Club, McGill

The McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and Media@McGill, a research hub in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, jointly sponsored a symposium on affect, sexuality and power. Audience members at the Faculty Club were deeply engaged in discussions following presentations by: Wendy H.K. Chun, Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, Lisa Henderson, Associate Professor of Communication, U-Mass Amherst and Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, Columbia University.


Oct 29, 2009: Wendy H.K. Chun, Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, delivers a talk as part of Making Contact: A Symposium on Affect, Sexuality and Power


Oct 29, 2009: Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, Columbia University asks a question at Making Contact: A Symposium on Affect, Sexuality and Power

3.Visiting Scholars

The IGSF welcomes two new visiting scholars this term: Heidi Epstein and Caroline Bassett.

Heidi Epstein

Dr. Epstein is currently Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan where she teaches courses on Gender and God-Talk, Religion and Embodiment, Women and Western Religions, History of Christianity, Religion and Global Justice Movements, and Religion and Pop Music.

Her research interests stem from her interdisciplinary academic formation in musicology, feminist theory, and religious studies. Her book Melting the Venusberg: A Feminist Theology of Music (Continuum, 2004) exposes the veiled, gynophobic subtexts and sexist protocols for women making music that Christian rhetorics of musical transcendence throughout history have obfuscated. Enlisting interpretive lenses from the field of New Musicology, Melting the Venusberg proposes more holistic reconceptualisations of the musical sacred through attention to 1) the visceral bleed-through between human musicality and sexuality, and 2) case studies of women’s actual music-making practices from the Middle Ages to the present day—the latter a heretofore suppressed musico-theological resource.

While at the Institute, Dr. Epstein will explore other neglected “circulations of social energies” (Greenblatt) in contemporary musical settings of the Song of Solomon. In The Polyphonic Shulamite, she is putting the latest biblical scholars’ queer and feminist readings of the Song ‘in conversation’ with an even wider range of insights from New Musicologists. Her musicological and contextual readings of these works elucidate how they provide composers, performers and auditors with counter-cultural “sources of the self” (Taylor). This implicates the biblical figure of the Shulamite in new, paradoxically secular roles as a key sculptor of alternative identities in the 20th and 21st centuries. These musical treatments also render the text an allegory of the conflicts and contradictions plaguing postmodern romantic love as it is culturally constructed and mediated today.

Caroline Bassett

Caroline Bassett is based at Sussex University where she is the Reader in Digital Media and Director of the Centre for Material Digital Culture. She is an ex-journalist, now a scholar of new media and cultural theory, researching the intersections of culture, technology and society. Questions of sex, gender, and feminism have been a recurring theme in her writing.

Her early work as an academic was forged through a critical engagement with European cyber-feminism (e.g. Old Boys Network and Mute) and she produced work on gender performativity and virtuality. Later she wrote The Arc and the Machine, a monograph on narrative and digital media. This explored the digital space of appearance, considering forms of gendered publicity and privacy enabled or foreclosed in digital spaces. She has recently considered bio-political/digital intersections through work on the techno-feminist Shulamith Firestone.

The project she plans to work on at McGill concerns histories of hostility to computing and is partly archival and partly based on critical sociology and feminist theory. Specifically, she is exploring gendered antipathy/hostility towards the technological in relation to two sites: the 1950s leisure society debates and the later ‘Two Cultures’ discussion. More broadly she is drawing on the resources of feminism/feminist methodologies to open up technological hostility as a neglected aspect of the history of computing and culture. She hopes that excavating this history will also provoke consideration of how techno-feminism tends to prioritize particular ways of writing its own history - and in doing so is forgetful of others.

4. Report on the Women’s Studies Program

Julia Krane
Chair, Women’s Studies Program

The Women's Studies programs at McGill University offer interdisciplinary approaches to critical issues centered on women, gender and/or feminism. Our programs, drawing core and complementary courses from 17 departments, provide students with opportunities to explore the meanings and intersections of such categories as gender, 'race', class, sexual orientation, age, ability, citizenship, and national identity for example, and to examine how such categories might inform and reproduce power relationships.

Each academic year, Women’s Studies offers thought-provoking “topics” courses based on cutting edge theoretical debates of relevance to this dynamic and diverse field of study. During the fall of 2009, Women’s Studies has been fortunate to offer WMST 301 “Queer cultures: Gender systems and sexual meanings in a modern, global world” (Professor Engebretsen, Faculty Lecturer IGSF), WMST 302 “Anti-racism and activism in Canada” (Professor Lee, Doctoral Candidate, School of Social Work), and WMST 401 “Women and the State in India: Colonial and postcolonial perspectives” (Professor Narain, Faculty of Law and IGSF). During the winter of 2010, we are excited about WMST 302 “Transnational global feminisms” (Professor Abisaab, Department of History, Institute of Islamic Studies) and WMST 402 “Feminist theories of identity” (Professor Engebretsen, Faculty Lecturer IGSF).

The Women’s Studies programs are overseen by an advisory committee comprised of undergraduate student representatives in Women’s Studies, graduate student representatives in the Graduate Option in Gender and Women’s Studies, and professors from the Faculties of Arts, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Religious Studies. We welcome the participation and input from faculty and students alike for generating insights and ideas to advance our programs. Please visit our website (http://www.mcgill.ca/igsf/programs/) or contact me (http://www.mcgill.ca/crcf/people/jkrane/) or any other member of the advisory committee.

5. A Word from Elisabeth Engebretsen, Faculty Lecturer, Women’s Studies Program

Since arriving in Canada and at McGill in August, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know my colleagues, students, and the wider McGill community. It has also been an absolute pleasure to discuss issues related to feminism, gender and sexuality, from a Canadian perspective, with my students, and to find out about students’ interests, and gender and sexuality related activism at McGill and in Montreal. This winter I am teaching two courses for the IGSF, Feminist Theories of Identity (WMST 402), which will count both as a Women’s Studies course and as a complementary course towards a Minor Concentration in Sexual Diversity Studies, and Feminist Theory and Feminist Theory and Research (WMST 303), as well as a course on Modern Chinese Society and Change for the Anthropology department (ANTH 329).

I would like to share two exciting events that I am organizing this winter. First, I am organizing a panel at a student conference at Dawson College in March, with student presenters from the Queer Cultures class I taught this fall (WMST 301); they will present papers based on their excellent final essays. I was greatly and routinely impressed by the high quality of the work students submitted to me for this course, and this conference is an excellent opportunity for others than the lecturer to hear about it.

Second, starting in mid-January, we will show documentary films on a monthly basis, in the IGSF 2nd floor seminar room. Screening cutting-edge and award winning documentaries on sexuality and old age, queer China, and women bullfighters in Spain, respectively, we aim to provoke debate, promote community, and provide film fodder related to the work and agenda of the IGSF. Attendance is free; we provide popcorn. Please check the Institute web site for details and updates.

6. Upcoming Events


Toibin icon

February 11, 2010, 3PM
Public Lecture: Colm Tóibín
Oscar Wilde in Prison

Prize-winning Irish writer and journalist
Leacock Building, Room 232
With the Department of English. Made possible by a grant from the Beatty Memorial Lectures Committee

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March 4, 2010
Symposium on the History of Sexuality
Participants include:
Joan Cadden, Department of History, University of California Davis
Sebastian Matzner, Department of Classics, King’s College, London
Ara Osterweil, Department of English, McGill University
Valerie Traub, Departments of English and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
Leacock Building, Room 232
With the Departments of History and English. Organized by members of the IGSF research axis, “Historical Perspectives”.

* * *

March 25, 2010 (date to be confirmed)
Rethinking Power in World Politics: the empowering potential of media monitoring and gender-based advocacy networks. Reflections on the Global Media Monitoring Project
Claudia Padovani, Department of Historical and Political Studies, University of Padova, (Italy) and Media@McGill visiting research fellow
Arts building, Room W215
With the Department of Art History and Communication Studies

* * *

April 12, 2010
Caroline L. Tait, Departments of Native Studies, and Women and Gender Studies, University of Saskatchewan With the Department of Anthropology

* * *

March 18, 2010, 3:30 PM
Seminar on teaching, open to students and junior faculty
The ‘Millennials’ Mystique: Notes from the Pedagogical Trenches
Visiting Scholar Dr. Heidi Epstein shares tips, stats, and mantras that helped her make the transition from teaching sessionally at McGill University—with its particularly diverse student demographics—to a full-time position in the relatively homogeneous setting of the University of Saskatchewan. Her reflections will include: 1) a profile of the so-called “Millennial” student; 2) useful guidelines and ideals from the pedagogical models of bell hooks, Ken Bain, and Parker Palmer; all of which allow responsiveness to students’ and administrators’ expectations, without the compromise of one’s unique pedagogical gifts and values
IGSF Seminar Room, 2nd floor 3487 Peel

* * *

Please check our web site regularly for details on upcoming seminars in this series including ones by:
Naima Benlarabi
Ibn Tofail University, Morocco and IGSF Muriel Gold Senior Visiting Scholar
Caroline Bassett
Department of Media and Film, University of Sussex and IGSF Visiting Scholar
Heidi Epstein
Department of Religion and Culture, University of Saskatchewan and IGSF Visiting Scholar
Robyn Ferrell
School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Fall 2009 Newsletter

  1. Message from the Director
  2. A Word from Brian Lewis, Chair, Sexual Diversity Studies
  3. New IGSF Appointments
    (a) Vrinda Narain
    (b) Elisabeth Engebretsen
  4. News from the IGSF Research Axes
    (a) Update from the Representation, Performance, Culture Research Axis
    (b) Update from the Equity and Justice Research Axis
  5. IGSF Visiting Scholar
  6. Upcoming Events

1. Message from the Director of the IGSF

As many of you now know, our proposal to create the McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies/ Institut Genre, sexualité et féminisme (IGSF) was approved by the Board of Governors last spring. The IGSF is now a fully functioning Institute, with many events planned for this academic year (see our Events Page for regular updates) and with responsibility for three teaching programs: Women's Studies, Sexual Diversity Studies and the Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies. Last week we held a reception to welcome in the new academic year, and I was glad to see the diversity of disciplines represented: faculty and students came from Law, Engineering, and Music as well as from a wide range of departments in Arts. The interest in interdisciplinary exchange was evident in the conversations around the room, which reflected the diversity of our research axes. Our new Institute is founded on this commitment to interdisciplinarity, and it is a collective venture. Please encourage your graduate students and new colleagues to join the research axes, and bring us your ideas for events and activities that we might support.

Marguerite Deslauriers
Director, IGSF

2. A Word from the Chair of Sexual Diversity Studies (SDS)

We are pleased that the SDS program, which began under the umbrella of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Faculty of Arts, has now moved to the IGSF. We asked the Chair of the program, Brian Lewis, for a brief account of SDS.

The Sexual Diversity Studies program ("SDS" or "Sex Div" for short) is just entering its fifth year at McGill. It grew out of an initiative by McGill's Queer Equity Subcommittee and is part of a burgeoning movement across North American campuses. We, its midwives, set out to bring together into a coherent program much of the exciting new work and teaching in the study of sexuality across many disciplines. And, in cajoling colleagues into adding new courses, we have roughly tripled the number of appropriate course offerings since we began.

Thirteen departments or programs across five faculties now provide courses, ranging from “Sex and the Single Building” in the School of Architecture, to “Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East” in the Department of History, to “Gender and Sexuality in Hinduism” in the Faculty of Religious Studies, to “Music and Queer Identity” in the Schulich School of Music. The program is vigorously eclectic, drawing on feminist studies, queer studies, LGBT studies and a rich variety of other theoretical and empirical perspectives. Our required introductory course, SDST-250, routinely reaches its cap of 150, and more than 50 students are currently enrolled in the Sex Div Minor. So the program is flourishing and, in due course, after more persuasion of yet more colleagues to add more courses, we hope to be able to expand into a Major.

We invite anyone who is interested in participating—or in offering a new course—to visit our website (www.mcgill.ca/sdst) or to contact me (brian [dot] lewis [at] mcgill [dot] ca) or any other member of the advisory committee.

Brian Lewis
Associate Professor, Department of History
Chair, SDS Advisory Committee

3. New IGSF Appointments

Vrinda Narain, Assistant Professor in the IGSF and Law

We are very pleased to announce the first tenure-track appointment to the IGSF. Vrinda Narain has been jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies. She is also a Research Associate in the Department of Afroasiatic Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa. As a lawyer, she has practiced in the areas of family law, laws relating to women, constitutional law, corporate law and administrative law. She is the author of two books: Reclaiming the Nation: Muslim Women and the Law in India (University of Toronto Press, 2008) and Gender and Community: Muslim Women's Rights in India (University of Toronto Press, 2001). In Women’s Studies, Dr. Narain currently is teaching WMST Special Topics 1: Women and the State in India: Colonial and Postcolonial Perspectives.

Elisabeth Engebretsen, Faculty Lecturer in the IGSF

We would like to welcome Elisabeth L. Engebretsen the new Faculty Lecturer appointed to the Institute. A cultural anthropologist, she specializes in gender, sexuality, cultural citizenship, and new forms of kinship in the People’s Republic of China. Her work includes journal articles on methodological and theoretical reflections on queer ethnography, transnational sexuality studies and queer activism in China (2008), intimate aspirations and marital strategies in the lives of Beijing lesbians (2009), and a book chapter on anthropological research in urban China (forthcoming). Her current book project is provisionally titled, Different Women: The Intimate Politics of Sexuality, Kinship, and Nation in Postsocialist Beijing. She is teaching the WMST 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies, and WMST 301 Special Topics: Queer Cultures:

Gender Systems and Sexual Meanings in a Modern, Global World. Elisabeth is a member of the McGill Equity Subcommittee on Queer People.

4. News from the IGSF Research Axes

(a) Update from the Representation, Performance, Culture Research Axis

Members of the Institute’s Representation, Performance, Culture, are in the process of submitting an application for an ‘équipe en émergence’ grant from FQRSC . The team has formed over the last year and is led by Carrie Rentschler (Art History and Communication Studies). The team includes researchers from Communication Studies, English, German and Music with shared interests in the sexing and gendering of publics and counter-publics. The team emerged out of a workshop series on research-in-progress that began in the fall of 2008 and will continue this academic year 2009-10. If you are interested in participating in the workshops, please contact Natalie Amar who will fill you in on when and where they meet. Some members of this team are also organizing a symposium to be held on October 29-30, 2009 on the theme, “Making Contact: A Symposium on Affect, Sexuality and Power.”

Additional research teams are in the process of formation. We see this as an important step in raising the visibility of research in gender, sexuality and feminist studies. These teams will also function to create more collaborative research opportunities for faculty at McGill and in conjunction with colleagues at other universities in Quebec.

(b) Update from the Equity and Justice Research Axis



Financé par le Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada, femSTEP est un projet de recherche qui vise à documenter les points de vue et les solutions proposées par les jeunes filles et les femmes du milieu rural au Rwanda en matière de lutte contre la pauvreté. Pour ce faire, le projet favorise une approche multidisciplinaire qui s’appuie sur une méthodologie visuelle participative pour analyser les enjeux de la pauvreté rurale sous l’angle des inégalités de genre vécues et expérimentées par les jeunes filles et les femmes au Rwanda. S’étalant sur trois ans, ce projet est mené par Myriam Gervais (IGSF), Claudia Mitchell (Faculté d’éducation) et Eliane Ubalijoro (ISID), en collaboration avec Euthalie Nyirabega (Université Nationale du Rwanda) et de Naydene DeLange (Université KwaZulu-Natal).

This group of researchers is organizing an event, “Feminist Visual Methodologies for Social Action / « Méthodologies visuelles féministes et action sociale » The panel discussion and film will take place on Friday, September 25, 2009.

Pour information: myriam [dot] gervais [at] mcgill [dot] ca

5. IGSF Visiting Scholar

We are pleased to welcome Naima Benlarabi, the Muriel Gold Senior Visiting Scholar, to the IGSF. Benlarabi’s work focuses on the impact of immigration on Moroccan women:

In the last four decades, the Maghreb, a developing region including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, has experienced high levels of migration leading to large diaspora populations around the world. While research in the field of Maghrebian migration is thriving, research on the impact of immigration on women still is scarce, although most of those emigrating from developing countries in search of work are women. The aim of my research is to study the immigration of Maghrebian women in a North American context. After considering an overview of this immigration, its push and pull factors, its impacts on women, their families and environment, the study will attempt to draw a comparison of women’s immigration to North-America with that to Europe. Because migration recently has become a pervasive phenomenon in Morocco, my study will focus mostly on Moroccan women.

Prof. Naima Benlarabi
Ibn Tofail University, Morocco
Contact: nbenlarabi0506 [at] yahoo [dot] com

6. Upcoming Events button_145x220_Making_Contact_final_poster

We look forward to a variety of IGSF events this fall. All events are free and open to the public, however we ask you to register with the IGSF Please go to our Events Page for a detailed list of our main events and our seminar series. A poster of our Upcoming Events is also available on our Events Page

Spring 2009

1. Message from the Director
2. Upcoming Events
3. Report on “Listening Bodies: Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration”
4. Women’s Studies Program
5. Visiting Scholar, Isabel Arredondo
6. Staffing News

1. Message from the Director

Marguerite Deslauriers

I hope this newsletter gives you a sense of the diversity of activities at the Centre as we develop into the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Perhaps most exciting in terms of our structure, the proposal for the new Institute has now been approved by the Academic Planning Committee (APC) of the university as well as McGill’s Senate. Should the proposal meet with the approval of the Board of Governors (at their meeting next week) the Institute will be created. We are happy not only to report this progress, but also to acknowledge the usefulness of the process – as the proposal makes its way through the various bodies representing different parts of the university, we learn more about the interests and perceptions of a variety of disciplines and people, and different ways in which the Institute might promote feminist studies, gender studies and sexual diversity studies.

APC recommended that we structure the research activities of the Institute around the research axes, without a distinct Research Centre, and we agreed that this will simplify and unify the structure. Meanwhile, the five axes are building momentum, and with the creation of the Institute in the spring will have even stronger institutional support.

The winter semester kicked off with seminars from our Visiting Scholars and others, and several work-in-progress presentations by members of the Representation, Performance, Culture Research Axis. As well, we held a very successful trilogy of workshops as part of the Health, Gender, and Sexuality series initiated by the Health and Wellness research axis. In February, we held a symposium on Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (see details below) using Skype technology to connect our group with “live” scholars around the globe. Throughout the term, we have had the opportunity to meet with scholars from gender studies departments at universities as far away as Turkey and Israel. We welcome these international exchanges and look forward to the future Institute’s enhanced cooperation with academic centres and community groups, near and far. Finally, we are cooperating with Media@McGill and the History Department, respectively, on two public lectures, that of Sara Ahmed and Joan Scott. You can check for up-dates on these and other events on our web-site. Likewise, we hope you will feel free to drop by the Centre, or contact us by e-mail (or phone at 514.398.3911), and we look forward to seeing you at our events.

2. Upcoming Events

Friday, March 20, 6 pm

Public lecture organized by the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women in collaboration with Media@McGill

For more info please click on the image
"Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness"
Sara Ahmed
Department of Media and Communications
Goldsmiths, University of London

McGill Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish Street

Open to the Public

Thursday, March 26, 4 - 6pm

Public lecture made possible by a grant from the Beatty Memorial Lectures Committee and in cooperation with the History Department

Joan W. Scott

School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J

McGill University, Leacock Room 232
Open to the Public

Reserve these dates:

September 25, 2009

Symposium: “Feminist visual methodologies for social action”

A one-day workshop to explore how participatory visual methodologies have the potential to ‘put young girls and women in the picture,’ focusing on their direct involvement to map out the complexity of issues as they affect them. Starting off with a participatory session with Brinton Lykes of Boston University, and including a panel of visual participatory work at McGill, this workshop will close with a public screening of David Ebert’s new documentary "Where the Water Meets the Sky". This documentary focuses on working with girls in Zambia to produce their own visual images as a way to speak out about their lives.

October 29–30, 2009

Symposium: Feminists Rethinking Representation

The McGill Centre for Research and Teaching and Media@McGill, a research hub in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, are planning to jointly sponsor a symposium on feminism and the politics of representation. Invited speakers at the symposium will be asked to address two key areas of innovation in feminist theory and research around questions of representation:

1) The de-centralization of the identitarian subject---as authors, speakers and/or hearers---in recent feminist theorizing; and

2) New ways of thinking about issues of form and the dissemination, exchange and circulation of non-representational materialities, such as movement, affect and feeling, which are not strictly speaking "representational."

The latter refers to the increasing interest among humanities and science and technology scholars on the materialities of communication, work that is associated with German media theorists like Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht and Friedrich Kittler. Researchers interested in the materialities of communication shift the emphasis in scholarly investigation from the identification of meaning-making to that of the cultural work that form and infrastructure do in media and communication practices.

Participants will include:

Wendy H.K. Chun, Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University Suzanne Cusick, Associate Professor of Music, New York University Lisa Henderson. Associate Professor, Department of Communication, UMass Amherst Elizabeth Povinelli, Co-Director, Anthropology & Gender Studies, Center for the Study of Law & Culture, Columbia University

Please check our website in the coming months for further details on these, and other events.

Back to top

3. Report on “Listening Bodies: Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration”

By: Ellen Waterman (ICASP researcher and IGSF visiting scholar)

Through the auspices of the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women , and the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project (ICASP, based at the University of Guelph), researchers from both institutions came together for a two day set of meetings in Montreal, February 13 and 14, 2009. The ‘link’ was Ellen Waterman, an ICASP researcher who is one of the IGSF’s visiting scholars for 2008/09. Ellen organized the event with the considerable aid of staff from ICASP and IGSF.

ICASP is a SSHRC-MCRI project that aims to explore the social and cultural potential of improvisation. The project’s core hypothesis is that musical improvisation is a crucial model for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action. The project is formed around seven research areas, and it was the Improvisation, Gender and the Body team who participated in this collaboration with the IGSF. The IGSF promotes interdisciplinary research in Women's Studies, and feminist research more generally, and is in the process of widening its scope as it becomes an Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies organized around a number of research axes. Indeed, the challenge of collaborating across disciplines, philosophies, artistic media, and subject positions is of central concern to both the IGSF and ICASP. It only seemed logical to centre our meetings on “listening” as a methodology for promoting understanding and inclusiveness rather than territorialism and authority.

Ellen Waterman (ICASP & IGSF Visiting Scholar), Cynthia Leive (McGill) , Lisa Barg (McGill), Sorouja Moll (Concordia) and David Brackett (McGill)

The first day featured a public symposium “Listening Bodies: Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration” in which 19 scholars, artists, and students made presentations. Held at McGill’s Schulich School of Music, the day attracted about 70 additional participants for an array of papers, panels, workshops, and open discussion. By making use of Skype internet video technology we were also able to include ‘remote’ presentations from Mills College, The University of Kansas, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Deep Listening Session, with Pauline Oliveros on the front screen via Skype

Highlights included: a listening workshop by renowned educator, composer and improviser Pauline Oliveros; an experimental improvisational ‘jam’ session over the internet between students from McGill Music and Mills College; panels and presentations on listening, embodiment, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration; and an open discussion hosted by Sherrie Tucker.

Following the public symposium, the eight members from ICASP’s Improvisation, Gender and the Body (IGB) research area held an intensive set of formal and informal meetings. Judging by responses both from symposium participants and the IGB, both sets of meetings were a huge success, and the combination of a public event and a focused small-group meeting worked very well. Pauline Oliveros, who had intended to be present in person but whose flight was cancelled due to bad weather, attended the entire two days via “Skype”. She wrote: “Congratulations on a wonderful conference! Thanks again for taking such good care of my virtual body.”

I want to thank ICASP and the IGSF for whole-heartedly supporting this event. In particular I want to express my appreciation for the expertise, boundless energy, and wonderful efficiency of the IGSF staff whose good work made the public symposium such a success.

Respectfully submitted, Ellen Waterman

4. Women’s Studies Program

Call for Applications

Margaret Gillett Graduate Research Awards

These awards are granted by the IGSF in honour of Dr. Margaret Gillett, Macdonald Professor of Education at McGill University (retired). Dr. Gillett initiated the Women's Studies program at McGill
Eligibility: Graduate students, in any McGill department, who are conducting research in Women's Studies leading to a degree are eligible to apply. Applicants may be, but are not required to be, enrolled in the Graduate Option in Gender and Women’s Studies
Deadline: Monday April 6, 2009

For further information: http://www.mcgill.ca/igsf/awards/grads/

Call for Nominations

Shree Mulay Graduate Award in Gender and Women's Studies

Awarded by the IGSF to a graduate student who is enrolling in the Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies and exemplifies excellence in scholarship in gender and/or women's studies.

Value: One award of $5,000
Nomination Deadline: April 6, 2009

For further information: http://www.mcgill.ca/igsf/awards/grads/


Follow up on workshop held in the fall: “Trans in the University Classroom: Issues of Pedagogical Strategy and Practice”.


Sabrina Hom, the faculty lecturer in Women’s Studies, is producing a document to follow up on the workshop held in the fall. This text will provide some recommendations for instructors seeking to make their classrooms safer spaces for trans students and for discussion of trans issues, as well as ideas for integrating trans studies into their course outlines.

5. Visiting Scholar, Isabel Arredondo

Dr. Arredondo is a visiting scholar from Plattsburgh State University, where she teaches Latin American literature and culture. Her field of interest is minority discourse, especially gender and ethnicity. She wrote her dissertation on the representation of the Mayas in the 1940's Guatemalan literature. This was later published as a book, De brujos y naguales: La Guatemala imaginaria de Miguel Angel Asturias.

As one of the IGSF’s visiting scholars for the term (she joins Ellen Waterman and Lisa Geunther) Isabel Arredondo is currently working on two projects. The first is a study of the representations of mothers in films made by Mexican women filmmakers during the late 1980s and early 1990s. She is especially interested in the ways in which these filmmakers question the shame society puts on mothers and their proposal of more positive ways to understand motherhood. Arredondo’s second project focuses on Juliet Barrett Rublee, who was one of the first, if not the first, person to make a film on location in Mexico in 1929.

Isabel can be reached by e-mail at: arredoi [at] plattsburgh [dot] edu

6. Staffing News

Please see the farewell note below from Christine Archer, the former Administrative and Student Affairs Coordinator. The position currently is being filled by Caili Woodyard.

Dear Students, Friends and Colleagues, I have accepted a position outside of McGill and shortly will be leaving my position here at the MCRTW. Although I have enjoyed working at the Centre and with Women’s Studies Advisory Committee (WSAC) and its members, this new position offers me both professional challenges and financial compensation that are right for me at this point in my life. I will certainly miss all of my colleagues as well as the students and faculty that I have become so familiar with in this past year. Thank you for the opportunities and support you have provided me during my time at the MCRTW. Sincerely, Christine Archer