“Gender and Memory” is theme for four campus visitors, pre-doctoral fellow
Photographs from the Holocaust as a means of transmitting trauma from one generation to the next, the stories behind two gender-reassignment surgeries in 1950s England, the potential conflicts between family accounts from stories from grandma versus evidence from science, and how people move through the landscape as they walk are among the topics to be explored in the Fisher Center's Spring 2008 series, “Gender and Memory.”
All five lectures this semester will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the library's Geneva Room.
Author, journalist and zine artist Pagan Kennedy will begin the series, talking about “Sex and Drugs and Memory,” on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Kennedy will review how drugs that were developed in the 20th century changed the rules of remembering lives and living, including how one pill makes one remember and the other changes one's gender.
The talk will spring from her latest books, “Confessions of a Memory Eater,” a 2006 novel revolving around a drug that restores autobiographical memory — the main character becomes “addicted” to his own memory; and a 2007 biography, “The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution,” which recounts the story of the first female-to-male change in 1950s Britain.
Kennedy has written nine books and contributed to dozens of publications including The New York Times Magazine, Boston Magazine, Dwell and Details. She has received an NEA fellowship in fiction, a Smithsonian fellowship, a Barnes and Noble Discover Award, a place on the New York Times Notable Book list and a Massachusetts Book Award Honor in Nonfiction. She is a columnist for The Boston Globe Ideas section.
“Genomics and Ancestry: Implications for Social Identity and Social Justice” will be the topic when Charmaine Royal speaks on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
An Associate Research Professor of the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University, Royal will talk about advances in human genetics and genomics as revolutionizing science, medicine, and society. Her research asks what happens to a person's memory of themselves and their family genealogy when science reveals an ancestral lineage that contradicts family lore? What happens to social histories of race and social identity?
She will highlight some of the emerging issues relevant to social identity and social justice, and help provide frameworks for assessing them, while focusing on applying genetics and genomics (the study of a DNA sequence) in ancestry testing and in health disparities research.
Royal is the author and co-author of numerous articles and publications, including “'Race' and Ethnicity in Science, Medicine, and Society,” for the September 2006 issue of the journal BioSocieties.
Almost a month later, Marianne Hirsch will address “The Generation of Postmemory,” on Tuesday, March 11, exploring whether photographs act as testimonial objects between today and yesterday, this generation and previous ones, memory and postmemory, personal and cultural recollection, or gender and generation. Her lecture is co-sponsored by the HWS Genocide Series.
A Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Director of its Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Hirsh will look at postmemory — the relationship of people in a second generation to powerful, often traumatic, experiences that preceded their birth but that were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to seem to constitute memories in their own right.
Focusing on the remembrance of the Holocaust, she examines postmemory and its reliance on photography as a primary medium of trans-generational transmission of trauma, and the role of the family as a space of transmission and the function of gender as an idiom of remembrance. Co-author with Leo Spitzer of the forthcoming book, “Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of a Czernowitz in Jewish Memory and History,” and a work still in progress, “The Generation of Postmemory: Gender, Visuality and the Holocaust,” she is the editor of a special issue of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (Fall 2002) and “Conflicts in Feminism,” with Evelyn Fox Keller.
Elissa Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, will examine the geography of memory and “Walking” on Tuesday, March 25. Her lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Environmental Studies and the Architectural Studies program.
Looking at the spatiality of history and the ways memory is evoked and mediated through a relationship to physical place, she looks at the ways walking inscribes the body in place, and how a relationship to place, in turn, instigates a particular kind of remembering. She will discuss two memorials where the encounter with place unfolds over time through walking — through different styles of walking and through different modes of engagement with the sites.
The memorials are “Passages: Homage to Walter Benjamin,” designed by Israeli artist Dani Karavan at Benjamin's burial site in Portbou, Spain; and “Memorial to the Departed Jewish Citizens of the Bayerische Viertel, Bayerische Platz, Berlin,” an installation by German artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock commemorating the disappearance and murder of some 6,000 Jewish neighborhood residents.
Rosenberg is the author of “Gardens, Landscape, Nature: Duisburg-Nord,” in The Hand and the Soul: Ethics and Aesthetics in Architecture and Art; “The Geography of Memory: Walking as Remembrance,” and “Suburban Sublime: Herman Miller Cherokee,” in Between Form and Circumstance: Re-Thinking the Contemporary
Landscape: The Recent Practice of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
To conclude the series, Fisher Center pre-doctoral fellow Cynthia Current will speak on “Making Memory: Fingerprinting to Genomics, Literature to Biocultures,” on Wednesday, April 9.
She will examine how new combinations of life — stem cells, immortal cell lines and genomics – culture and technology (including cell phones, iPods, nanotechnology) gestate in science and literature. Memory, race and gender are created anew, she argues, in what today are being called “biocultures” — mingling science, technology, and literature. Current is completing her Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a certificate in Women’s Studies from Duke University. She has taught classes on the HWS campus this year, and her dissertation, “Fingerprinting to Genomics: Technologies of Race and Gender in American Literature,” explores the implications of technology on identity formation in American literature from 1880 to 1910. She is a former co-editor of The North Carolina Roots of African American Literature: an Anthology of Nineteenth-Century African American Writing.
A roundtable discussion for students and faculty will begin at 9 a.m. the day after each evening's lecture, in Demarest 212, The Fisher Center.
The Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men was endowed with a $1 million gift from Emily and Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993. The center is directed by Associate Professor of Women’s Studies Betty M. Bayer. Details on the spring series are available at Tweet