Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 4, Issue 1
fall 2013
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby
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Keywords in Gender and Sexuality: A PechaKucha-style Event with Yale Faculty

by Amanda Shadiack, '14

On October 4, WGSS and LGBTS hosted a day of fast-paced presentations on current research in gender and sexuality.  Over 20 faculty members from across Yale’s campus spoke about keywords in gender and sexuality studies.  The day consisted of a series of seven panels where speakers gave brief PechaKucha-style presentations, followed by questions and conversation.  This interdisciplinary event featured faculty from a variety of disciplines including medicine, history, English, religion, political science, visual culture, anthropology, sociology, and more. 

Before the Keywords in Gender and Sexuality event began, I turned to a friend for guidance and whispered: “So what’s PechaKucha, again?”

I imagine that many in the crowd in the Hall of Graduate Studies had the same question in mind. We were lucky to have Joe Fischel, Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and all-around delightful individual, to give us an introduction. Each presenter was to display 20 slides for 20 seconds each for a grand total of a 6 minute 40 second presentation—a far shorter time than most professors are accustomed to.

But the faculty rose to the challenge. The fast-paced format made for exciting, dynamic presentations on a variety of subjects, which led the audience from the Christian church to the modern cinema and back to Yale again over the course of a single hour.

It is likely that everyone was exposed to a field or subject with which they had little or no familiarity. This made for interesting questions during the Q&A session at the end of each panel, as novices and experts alike could have their inquiries addressed by the assembled panelists. The undergraduates in particular made a particularly good showing, asking insightful questions that pushed multiple professors to form links between their distinct areas of research.

The third panel of the day, “Bodies/States/Norms/Police”, included an especially diverse cast: a historian, an anthropologist and East Asian Studies scholar, a professor of law, and a lecturer in WGSS. The audience received introductions to disability in Japan and the home healthcare workers’ rights movement in the United States, among other topics.

While some professors ran over their allotted time, many took the PechaKucha style very seriously. Some had their PowerPoint slides timed to move along without their interference, forcing them to communicate their ideas concisely and move on when prompted. These scholars worked to present their research and profound depth of knowledge quickly, clearly, and to a lay audience who was also adjusting to a new style of presentation. Overall, it was a refreshing event that exposed both attendees and panelists to a multitude of fascinating research interests.
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