Colloquium Aims to Shed Light on Gender and Sexuality Studies

By Tara DeLorenzo

This year’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) department will be going for the gold with its 33rd GSS Colloquium on March 12 in both the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Theater and Sweigart Auditorium.

This annual event is a conglomeration of both student and faculty research work, and is organized by GSS faculty with chief organizer this year being Mary Morse of the GSS program. Other key faculty involved in the organization of the colloquium included Megan Titus, program chair, Erica Ryan, paper committee chair, and Deborah Cordonnier, who teaches Gender and Sport at Rider.

The competition to be a part of the colloquium is high. Twelve students were selected to make presentations for this year’s event.

“This year’s 12 student panelists cover gender and sexuality issues related to literature, popular culture, politics, media, video games and music,” Morse said. “The top three student papers also have been selected for presentation at the New Jersey Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium Undergraduate Research Colloquium, which will be held at Rider on Friday, March 27. We’re really proud of our students’ investigations of gender and sexuality issues across a variety of disciplines.”

The colloquium begins in the Sweigart Auditorium with a segment called Cultural Representations of Gender. This panel will run from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. and is made up of four student presentations: “Guns and Control: Gender, Children, and Patriotism in the Gun Control Debate” by Jonathan Murphy, “Transgender Acceptance in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando” by Caroline Forde, “The Bluest Eye’s and the Breedlove’s Masculinity” by Samantha Traina and “Honor!!!: An Analysis of Zuko’s Changing Identity in Relation to his Definition of Masculinity” by Rachel Jensen.

Following the first panel, the event will move to the BLC Theater, where there will be an award ceremony. GSS will be “honoring Dr. Nowell Marshall, Assistant Professor II, English as the 2015 Ziegler-Gee honoree for exemplary work on behalf of equality in gender and sexuality, and Nikita Mycyck ’16 as the winner of the 2015 Virginia Cyrus scholarship,” said Morse.

From there, the event moves to the Medal of Excellence honoree, which will be presented by Provost DonnaJean Fredeen and Director of Athletics Don Harnum, to keynote address speaker, Rider alumna and 2014 U.S. Olympic bobsled driver Jazmine Fenlator. This segment will run from from 1:10 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Fenlator’s speech, “Racing through Barriers” will be one that looks at her experiences as an athlete, and is one that will illustrate the growth of the GSS program

“I am thrilled that our current Rider students will get the chance to hear Jazmine talk about her experiences as a female athlete at all levels,” Morse said. “I’m really happy that Jazmine will also be receiving her Sesquicentennial Medal of Excellence at our Colloquium, since it shows that our GSS program is an integral part of our academic community. Our GND 333 Gender and Sport course, usually taught by Ms. Deborah Cordonnier, has become one of our most popular courses, and now is also an elective for the Business of Sports program. Our invitation to Jazmine demonstrates our program’s commitment to helping students understand how gender and sexuality issues affect us in all areas of our lives.”

The next panel, The Manifestation of Sexism in Popular Culture, which takes place from 3 p.m. to 4:20 p.m., shifts the event back to the Sweigart Auditorium. Its four presentations include “Mozart’s Many Women: Cosi Non Fan Tutte” by Abigail Kempson, “Programming Mega Man: the History of Sexism in Video Games” by Gerald DeMattia, “I Got It From My Mama: Hip-Hop, Sexism and Motherhood” by Petra Gaskins and “The Unlikeable Female in Gone Girl” by Brenna Needles.

The colloquium then will conclude with its final panel, Sexuality and Sex-Based Activism, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The panel features “No Longer the Cleavers: A History of Gay and Lesbian Families from Post World War II to 2014” by Peri Himsel, “The Limitations of Homosociability and Homosexuality in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Kelsey Mahon, “The Implications of Sexual Violence in Conflict: What I Learned in Northern Ireland” by Haley Johnston and “What’s Behind Door Number WONPR: the Members and Operations for National Prohibition Reform” by Nasser Zayer.

Presenter and junior global studies major Johnston is very excited to be a part of this colloquium.

“I have a feeling that the subject matter of the various presentations are going to be very diverse, which is exciting,” she said. “I love the idea of teaching and learning at the same time.”

Morse hopes that students are able to educate themselves through this event and hopes students gain interest in the issues that surround gender studies.

“I hope that students will want to attend our 33rd Colloquium to learn more about the impact of gender and sexuality issues on their lives,” Morse said. “While several of our student panelists are GSS minors, many are not. The spectrum of papers presented shows that the academic study of gender and sexuality is relevant and necessary in today’s society. Maybe some of the students attending these sessions will want to explore these issues by taking a GSS course or declaring their own GSS minor.”

Johnston concurs with Morse, and hopes students go and learn from a different perspective there.

“The best case scenario, in my opinion, would be for everyone who attends the colloquium to walk away with a better sense of how diverse a subject Gender and Sexuality is,” Johnston said. “Gender Studies permeates all realms of society and culture, which is why students can get together and discuss literature, the media, and international policy under the same frame of reference. I think this sort of synthesis is what academia is all about. We can all broaden our perspectives and push intellectual boundaries.”

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