Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 5, Issue 2
spring 2015
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

WGSS Colloquium and Working Group

by Heather Vermeulen and Ashley James


Defying New Haven’s penchant for Monday snowstorms, this spring’s Working Group and Colloquium continued to foster a warm and welcoming, intellectually dynamic space for graduate students and faculty alike. In addition to its focus on providing spaces for scholars to share their work and receive critical, constructive feedback, the Working Group and Colloquium has increased its attention to intellectual development and personal reflection upon what is at stake in our various projects. Our conversations extend beyond responses to the presented arguments toward exploring the genealogy of participants’ arrival at particular interests and questions and how their work illuminates and challenges normative modes of approaching such topics.

The semester began with Colloquium presentations by two graduate students in the joint African American Studies and American Studies program, Lauren Meyer and Jalylah Burrell. Through close readings of Florynce “Flo” Kennedy’s archive and Fran Ross’s 1974 novel Oreo, respectively, Lauren and Jalylah theorized black feminist praxis and political and stylistic innovation. Their work provided excellent extensions and further complications of fall Colloquium papers on race, gender, language, and performance.

Greta LaFleur, Assistant Professor of American Studies, led the first Working Group of the semester, sharing a published article and recent talk. Her scholarship challenged us to think through historiographic approaches to the study of sexual behavior in eighteenth-century North America, prior to the development of modern “sexology.” Through sharing published and in-progress pieces, Professor LaFleur modeled the ways in which scholars return to and revise their work, which led to a generative conversation about dissertation writing and methodological development. Further, her visit provided an excellent prelude to our next Colloquium, in which graduate students Tyler Rogers (GSAS, American Studies) and Danielle Bainbridge (GSAS, African American Studies and American Studies) delved into the politics, possibilities, and limitations of archival work in their respective papers, “Visible through Violence: Indigenous Women in New England’s Colonial Archives” and “Reimagining the Enslaved Person’s Narrative through the Performance Archive of Millie and Christine McKoy.”

We very much look forward to the semester’s concluding events, a Working Group with Vesla Weaver, Assistant Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, and Colloquium presentations by graduate students Cecilia C├írdenas-Navia (GSAS, History of Science and Medicine) and Claire Schwartz (GSAS, African American Studies and American Studies). All three scholars explore embodiment, surveillance, and power through intersectional analyses that focus on the constitutive roles of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation.
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