Hobart and William Smith Assistant Professor of Theatre Christine Woodworth recently delivered a talk, “The Crooning Crusader: Actress Kitty Marion in the British and American Suffrage Campaigns,” to kick off the joint lecture series by HWS and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
“This sacred site echoes with the audacious voices of legions of women and men who bravely fought for equality and justice,” said Woodworth, opening her talk in the Guntzel Theater of the National Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Woodworth is a native of Geneva, who joined HWS this year.
Her public lecture, which drew an audience of students, faculty, and community members, dealt with a key personality within the suffragette movement: actress Kitty Marion. Born in Germany, Marion migrated first to England in 1886 where she became a notoriously radical suffragette; her activism led to multiple arrests for protestation, vandalism and arson. She eventually moved to the United States, where she took part in the Silent Sentinel Movement, in which women stood in silent protest outside the White House.
Though infamous for her part in violent demonstrations, Marion was also remembered for her sense of humor and iconic status as an actress. “She was something of an anomaly in that she was able to balance her theatrical career with radical feminism,” Woodworth said. “She lived a really dual life.”
Woodworth said she was drawn to study Marion after reading of her relationship with Margaret Sanger, publisher of “The Birth Control Review.” Marion sold the then-illegal material for more than 10 years and was arrested numerous times for doing so.
Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Michelle Martin-Baron, who opened the event, noted the goal of the lecture series is “to follow in the footsteps of the men and women who helped build the feminist revolution by creating space for dialogue.”
Before Woodworth’s talk, HWS Provost and Dean of Faculty Titi Ufomata reflected on the strong connection between the Colleges and the National Park.
“The actions taken in Seneca Falls have reverberated around the world,” she said. “Our graduates leave Seneca Lake and lead lives of consequence because of the dedication of faculty and being surrounded by the women’s rights movement.”
Woodworth holds a Ph.D. in theatre from Bowling Green State University, an M.A. from Indiana University, and a B.A. from St. Lawrence University. She has directed such productions as “In the Blood,” which portrays a family sunk in poverty. Woodworth credits the Finger Lakes region and its ties to the women’s rights movement as having “shaped my life as a scholar, artist and educator.”
The lecture series, “Sentiments & Declarations,” will continue to explore everything from women in the arts to nuclear disaster. Held once a month, the lectures take place from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Guntzel Theater. The events are co-sponsored by the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the Women’s Studies, Office of the President and the Office of the Provost. With the support of HWS Student Affairs, buses will provide transportation from campus to the “Sentiments & Declarations” lectures. Those who would like a ride should contact Tina Smaldone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The remaining schedule for the lecture series follows:
Fall 2013 Dates
Thursday, Oct. 24: “Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Racist?” by Associate Professor of History and Chair of Women’s Studies Laura Free.
Thursday, Nov. 21: “Coping with Contamination: A Feminist Look at Post-Disaster Fukushima” by Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Jessica Hayes-Conroy.
Spring 2014 Dates
Thursday, Feb. 20: “Meet N’Zingha, queen of Angola (1583-1663): ruler, soldier, cannibal, legend,” Professor of French and Francophone Studies Catherine Gallouet.
Thursday, March 27: “Eternal Novices? Professionalism and American Women Monastic Composers” by Assistant Professor of Music Charity Lofthouse.
Thursday, April 24: “Why Feminists Should Care About Funerals: The Politics of Public Mourning,” by Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Michelle Martin-Baron.