Ann Orloff

Ann Orloff

During the 2008-11, a key concern was to expand the intellectual activities of Gender Studies, especially with reference to faculty development, with programming that engaged our diverse and cross-disciplinary constituencies.  We featured programming around the theme of "Gender and Sexuality in Transition," a series of colloquia, speeches, roundtable discussions, and workshops that coalesced around the "trans" in "transition": transnational gender and sexuality (as in e.g., migration, labor, tourism); transgender and transsexual/ identities; and critical transactions among the methodologies and philosophies of feminism, queer theory, and gender studies.  With the support of Kreeger-Wolf funds, we brought a number of prominent gender and sexuality scholars to campus, including Janet Halley (Harvard Law School), Raewyn Connell (Sydney), Lynne Haney (NYU) and Rhacel Parrenas (USC).  With the initiation of the Sexualities Program at Northwestern (SPAN), Gender Studies worked with Hector Carrillo and Steven Epstein on many aspects of that program, including bringing in two postdoctoralfellows (Evren Savci and Kirsten Leng) and participating in the SPAN reading group.  Finally, with GS TA Christine Wood and colleagues from University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, we organized the first Chicago-area graduate student conference in gender studies, “Engendering Change,” which ran simultaneously with a feminist performance festival that GS Director Ann Orloff worked on with Performance Studies Chair (and GS Advisory Board member) Patrick Johnson.

The program also carried out the Curriculum and Personnel review (CPR), chaired by Orloff and Mary Dietz.  Among other things, the Undergraduate Curriculum and Program Review subcommittee examined issues relevant to our undergraduate offerings:  substance, structure and enrollment of courses (tacking the issues of small courses, writing-intensive courses vs. larger lectures; honors program; requirements; making Gender Studies a stand-alone major; coordination with sexualities initiative; and new course offerings, such as Lane Fenrich’s gateway sexualities class.  Much of these initiatives were proposed by the end of the 2010-11 academic year, and actually institutionalized in 2011-12.  There was also a Faculty/Personnel Review, taking on questions relating to the character of faculty appointments and re-endorsing our system of rotating joint appointments, by which faculty members from other departments agree to a limited-term appointment with GS. The Advisory board accepted the CPR proposal to change the name of the graduate cluster to Gender and Sexuality Studies. We agreed to make the graduate program more fully encompassing of both gender and sexuality studies scholarship, including through expanding our seminar offerings and requiring certificate students to take both a gender studies and a sexuality studies theory seminar from among our offerings. We drafted by-laws, which were adopted after discussion and revision. Finally, we proposed – and the Advisory Board ultimately accepted -- that we should change the name of the program from “Gender Studies” to “Gender and Sexuality Studies,” to reflect the changes in our curriculum and interests.