Over this past year, Betty Bayer, professor of women’s studies and recipient of the Colleges’ 2009 Community Service Award, delivered three lectures in Canada.
Invited to speak on a panel on critical histories and psychology, Bayer spoke on feminist critical history at the recent annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Toronto, Ontario. Her paper tackled the assumed development of feminist history as moving progressively from women’s to gender to identity studies, asking of feminist historians instead: To what extent is feminist critical history invoked in studies of gender or other axes of diversity to the exclusion of its presence in “the big picture” of writing feminist psychology into the history of the human sciences? How have feminist history and historiography redefined and transformed the project of feminism?
Earlier this summer, Bayer was also an invited panelist in the opening session of the annual meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences. This session recognized the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Erving Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” with presenters directing themselves to larger questions of dramaturgy and the history of midcentury social sciences.
Bayer’s talk “To Stage or Not to Stage, That is the Question?” drew on an exchange between Goffman and social psychologist Leon Festinger concerning the latter’s undercover study of a small millennialist group in mid-20th century America. From this point of departure, Bayer explored Erving Goffman’s dramaturgy and Leon Festinger’s theatre of social psychology to inquire into their respective places in the staging of 20th century American social psychology and of notions of the self and everyday life as part drama, part experiment.
In the fall of 2008, Bayer gave an invited colloquium to the History and Theory faculty and graduate students at York University, Toronto. Her talk “Threshold of Revelation: When Prophecy Fails and the History of Psychology, Religion and Spirituality” considered 20th century entanglements of psychology and spirituality in the formation of kinds of selves and ideas on the psyche.
Bayer earned her Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in psychology from Carleton University. Serving the Colleges in the Women’s Studies Program, Bayer routinely teaches Women Studies Senior Seminar, Introduction to Women’s Studies, Peace, Research in Social Psychology and Psychology of Women. Recognized for her outstanding teaching ability, Bayer received the Colleges’ prestigious Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2004 and the Community Service Award in 2009. She has served as the chair of the Women Studies Program since 2001 and directed the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men from 2002 to 2009.
Recent publications include “Wonder in a World of Struggle” (Subjectivity), and “On Cultural History as Transformation-or, What’s the Matter with Psychology Anyway?” Bayer also co-edited “Challenges to Theoretical Psychology” and “Reconstructing the Psychological Subject: Bodies, Practices and Technologies,” and has an upcoming book, titled “Threshold of Revelation: When Prophecy Fails, Psychology and Spirituality.” She has served on the editorial boards of the journals International Journal of Critical Psychology, Theory & Psychology, The History of Psychology and Psychology and Sexuality and has given dozens of conference presentations internationally.