Notes Towards Day 26 (Thurs, Apr. 19): Bringing it Home

Anne Dalke's picture

jdsisco and michelle.lee setting the scene with NIcki Minaji

I. Coursekeeping

on Tuesday, we'll discuss two essays by Judith Halberstam,
whose March visit here was so exciting for a number of us;
you'll find both in our password protected file:
“Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies," from
In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005),
& "Shadow Feminisms: Queer Negativity and Radical Passivity,"
from The Queer Art of Failure (2011)

much larger in scope/deeper in implication than what we will look @ today--
not "just" about putting trans bodies in women's spaces,
but inviting us to queer the conventional notions of space, and time
(reformist vs. revolutionary agendas: upsetting notions of history....)

on the course home page, you'll find
links to the checklist/final portfolio of all your course requirements
(let's take a moment to review these now....)

for next Thursday,
prepare your portion of the "teach-in":
sign up now so I know what groups we've got/can tell you
how much time each of you will each have (get up and
mingle...write some ideas on the boards....?)

II. after-thoughts re: masculinity in general/
Jimmy Corrigan
in particular? (did you "like"
the book? did it speak to your interests/concerns?)

III. today we "bring it (some forms of masculine femininity?) home"--
with help from aybala, Alissa Quart and Helen Horowitz

@ the Heritage and Hope Conference in Fall 2010
(where Nicholas Kristof spoke),
Helen Horowitz also delivered a keynote address
(which focused on the "history," not the "hope"): she said that,
when Bryn Mawr was getting established, M. Carey Thomas had to
fight against current evolutionary science, which highlighted
the distinctiveness of male and female bodies:

women had adapted to bear and feed young,
which meant they needed a distinct education:
"could not study and menstruate @ the same time";
"the miseducation of women was a primary
cause of their 'hysteria'" (nervous disease)

MCT countered the belief in the biological WRONGNESS of
women's education with new scientific studies on inheritance:
shown to inherit intellectual capacities equally from mothers and fathers,
girls were "crushed by the American environment,"
not "enabled by circumstances to use their powers"

Horowitz told this as a story about the force of social convention: the
consequences of being "cut off from essential association with other scholars";
also as a story about the misuse of the story of evolution to explain social patterns

as sekang reported in her second webevent, on the
low representation of women in STEM fields, this
exclusion had religious force for M. Carey Thomas,
who gave the following account of these pressures on her early life:
"I can remember weeping over the account of Adam and Eve because
it seemed to me that the curse pronounced on Eve might imperil girls’ going to college."

Our topic today is girls who were not born girls, and/
or girls who are in does this affect
their going to a girls' college?

In the history of Bryn Mawr,
according to Horowitz and sekang, the category "woman"
was altered in the founding of the College.
According to aybala's time line, it was altered again
(in terms of class, race, and ethnicity) @ several points..

What is Bryn Mawr's future?
According to the NYTimes Magazine,
"transgender and genderqueer students could be said merely to be holding
women’s colleges to their word: to fully support women’s exploration of
gender, even if that exploration ends with students no longer being

But...The presence of trans students at women’s colleges can’t help
raising the question of whether — or to what degree — these colleges can
serve students who no longer see themselves as women....

...the position women’s colleges now find themselves in: caught between
wanting to embrace a campus minority that their own interrogation of
gender roles has helped to shape and defending the value of institutions
centered on the distinct experience of being female."

When pemwrez09 came to visit this class in '08, he asked,
why is passing so important? why can it be dangerous?

Cf. (wo)m'n's query re: what does it mean to "pass as queer"?
what is the relation of various forms of passing to "just being comfortable"?
"passing as an academic" ="to overcome the academic prose,
you must overcome the academic pose"

To get @ what we think about such issues, please constitute
yourselves into "Transgender Task Forces" of 3 members each.
What is your agenda going to be?
Do you need to think first about admissions policies?
accomodations? educating the current population?
How would you begin doing any of these things?
Might you be willing to draft a statement for the College's website?
(aybala: a report on the current status of these issues....?)

Report back in 1/2 an hour with
* a series of statements (a mantrafesto??)
* a series of questions? or
* some provocative musings....

Would you be willing to post these on Serendip?