Fisher Center: Our Bodies, Ourselves – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fisher Center: Our Bodies, Ourselves

Over 40 years ago, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective published “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a landmark of feminist organization and knowledge production with respect to women’s health and sexuality. In 2013-2014, the Fisher Center will expand on the intersection of self-care, embodied knowledge, and political commitment that is discussed in the publication with a year-long exploration of the topic, Our Bodies, Ourselves.

“Last year’s Fisher Center Steering Committee was intrigued by the early do-it-yourself spirit of the 1971 ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ publication. This year’s Fisher Center programming continues that commitment through our Research Scholars lecture series, and through the ongoing research of the Fisher Center Research Fellows group, the pre-doctoral fellow and the Woodworth Student Fellow,” explains Associate Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier, the director of Fisher Center.

The goal of this year’s Fisher Center programming is to treat “Our Bodies, Ourselves” as a critical lens, a point of reference, and an analytical framework for further discussion. “‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ evokes the collective excitement of women conducting their own research on their bodies, the culture of autonomous political organization, and the audacity of sexualities that exceed normalizing constraints,” wrote Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean, last year’s Fisher Center Director in outlining this year’s programming.

The first Fisher Center lecture of the academic year will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19. Kathryn Bond Stockton, distinguished professor of English at the University of Utah will present, “Sameness, Underwear, Pleasure, and Need: What Does Queer Theory Ask Us to Do?”

She will discuss how “queer theory” (which will be both defined and explained) changes the thinking on “same-sex” relations and thus unsettles notions of “gay,” “transgendered,” and “straight” lives. She will look at questions such as “How might we think about the power to lose? Can a queer hedonistic ethic lubricate our practice of redistribution? Can it help us fight structural inequalities while affirming luxury?”

Stockton teaches queer theory, theories of race, the 19th-century novel, and 20th-century literature and film. Her most recent books, “Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where ‘Black’ Meets ‘Queer'” and “The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century,” published by Duke University Press, were both finalists for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies (2007 and 2010), and she has also authored “God between Their Lips: Desire between Women in Irigaray, Bronte, and Eliot” (Stanford University Press).

She is the recipient of the Crompton-Noll Prize that was awarded by the Modern Language Association, for the best essay in gay and lesbian studies. In 2011, she taught at Cornell University’s School of Criticism and Theory, where she led a seminar on “Sexuality and Childhood in a Global Frame: Queer Theory and Beyond.” This past year she was awarded the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, the highest honor granted by the University of Utah.

Her talk takes place at 7:30 p.m., in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Fisher Center will present Miss Indigo Blue, headmistress of The Academy of Burlesque, in Seattle, Wash. Her performance and discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m., in the Winn-Seeley Theater, Winn-Seeley Gym.

In describing her talk she writes, “I am in love with bodies. I am utterly infatuated with those that use their bodies and their sexuality as a means of artistic, spiritual and political expression. Burlesque performers embody ideas about women, sexuality, pleasure and mischief using melodrama, storytelling, curiosity and the theatrical conventions of comic strip-tease. Burlesque audiences participate in this expressive interaction, with vocalizations, gestures, laughter and shock.”

Blue will demonstrate a burletta (burlesque act) then dissect it with the audience. The discussion will provide the opportunity for collaborative deconstruction between artist/viewer, participant/observer and student/teacher.

She is an internationally known performer, educator and community leader in the burgeoning sub-cultural phenomenon of neo-burlesque. She has pioneered understanding of this unique theatrical art form that has had powerful influence in contemporary culture from fashion to music and film. Blue has been recognized in books, magazines and film as a leading resource in comprehending the significance and relevance of burlesque. Her award-winning performances have earned her critical acclaim. She is now best known for her lavish wardrobe and perfectly executed classic acts, including tributes to Burlesque Legends Wild Cherry and Ricci Cortez.

Each semester, the Fisher Center looks to bring together the HWS community through its academic conversations to cultivate understanding and social justice in contemporary society.