Chair Welcome Letter
TO: The Women’s and Gender Studies Community
FROM: Mary Trigg, Chair
Welcome and welcome back everyone. I would like to begin by extending a big thank you to Monique Gregory and Suzy Kiefer—our indomitable WGS staff members—who greeted me with flowers on my first day in this new position in July, and have been a fountain of information and institutional insight since I began. We look forward to welcoming back Feronda Orders, who is on maternity leave with her new son Lawrence, who was born June 8th. While we are on the topic of parenthood, Carlos Decena also has a new son, Jordan. Congratulations to all!
I want to welcome Ethel Brooks into the position of Interim Undergraduate Director, and Ed Cohen into the role of Interim Graduate Director. These are positions they have both held in the past, so they bring strong experience into these roles. We are lucky that both Ethel and Ed have agreed to serve this year. I extend my sincerest thanks to them both. Next fall Yana Rodgers will begin a two-year term as Undergraduate Director, and Jasbir Puar a two-year term as Graduate Director. They too will bring strong experience and leadership with them.
We are fortunate to have a number of new and newly positioned people in our WGS community this year. Deborah Vargas joins us as the Henry Rutgers Term Professor in Comparative Sexuality, Gender, and Race. Deb was trained as a sociology and feminist studies scholar at the University of California Santa Cruz, and comes to us from the University of California Riverside. Her exciting work spans Chicana/Latina feminist theory and practice, transnational and transborder music, and Latin@ queer identities. We are thrilled to welcome Deb into our community.
I am also delighted to announce that SAS and our new Dean of the Humanities, Michelle Stephens, authorized us to hire a non-tenure track lecturer (for up to three years) to cover some of our courses for our faculty on leave. Please join me in welcoming Max Hantel, a 2015 graduate of our Ph.D. program, into this position. We had a quick turnaround to get this done, and my thanks go to Ed Cohen and Mary Hawkesworth for agreeing to serve with me on the search committee, and to Max for assuming new courses at a moment’s notice. We also begin the year with 5 incoming Ph.D. and 3 MA students whom I met for the first time at the Graduate Orientation in late August. We are delighted to have you all amongst us.
Finally, after a long effort that preceded me, I am delighted to announce that Monique Gregory has been successfully promoted, and is now a Senior Department Administrator. Congratulations and welcome to all! We have an outstanding department and I am looking forward to working with all of you.
Because we are expanding we have outgrown our existing office space, and we have been granted a new suite of offices in the Ruth Adams Building (the 107 suite). This suite will also have space for a shared graduate student office, in addition to RDJC 006. Painters and carpenters are currently at work in the new space, which should be ready for occupancy by early November. On the office topic, thanks to all of you who graciously moved your offices this summer—I know it was both disruptive and labor-intensive.
Now for the work of this year: First, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to immerse myself in the writing and thinking of our gifted and field-shaping candidates up for tenure or promotion: Deb Vargas, Sylvia Chan-Malik, Abena Busia, and Kyla Schuller. I thank all the colleagues who carefully read their materials and contributed in such important ways to our departmental narratives. Second, I have met with many of you over the course of the spring and summer to learn about your ideas for our department’s future, and hope to meet with more by the end of this semester. It is difficult to summarize the wealth of ideas you—faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates—generously shared, but several themes emerged: a desire for a stronger sense of community; the importance of finishing what we have started (revising our By-Laws, changing our department’s name); continuing to strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs; and innovating/beginning new initiatives. Ideas for these new initiatives include: (1) Creating tracks for our MA program (black feminist theory; gender and human rights; gender and the Middle East; critical sexualities); (2) Launching a combined five-year BA/MA program; (3) beginning an annual departmental lecture series; (4) Strengthening mentoring offerings for our faculty; (5) Renewing our commitment to our international programs, and many more. (On this note MA Director Julie Rajan, Monique Gregory, and I attended the GEMMA meeting at the University of Granada in Granada, Spain in July, and WGS just renewed our membership in this exchange program for our MA students). I hope this will be a productive year and that you will keep your ideas coming, and work with me to make them a reality.
WGS Fall Events:
It is shaping up to be a very busy fall.
We begin with our annual Fall Welcome and BBQ lunch, which we are co-hosting with the Institute for Women’s Leadership, on Monday, September 11th at 12:30. This is an opportunity to meet new colleagues and graduate students, welcome new faculty and staff, and learn about the plans for the semester and year. It will be held in the conference room and on the patio of the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building.
Our department is hosting Anne-Emmanuelle Berger from September 18th through October 12th. Professor of Gender Studies and French Literature at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis, Berger’s research is on feminist theory, American gender and queer theory, nineteenth-century poetry and poetics, psychoanalytic theory, and the politics of language. WGS is sponsoring her inaugural lecture, “Is Psychoanalysis a Theory of Gender?” on Wednesday, September 20th, at 4:30 p.m. It will be held in the conference room of the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building. Please make sure to join us.
As part of her visit through the Paris 8 exchange, Dr. Berger is giving a series of talks: “Gender Studies Today and the Resistance of Translation” (Hosted by the Department of Comparative Literature) on Wednesday, September 27th, at 4:30 p.m. It will be held at the new Academic Building (CAC), Room 4052. The third in the series is “Irigary’s Breath: Poetry after Poetics,” hosted by the French Department on Wednesday, October 4, at 10:30 AM. Finally, Berger will be giving a lunchtime talk on her research on the Maghreb region. The Institute for Research on Women will sponsor this talk at noon on Thursday, October 12th in the conference room of the RDJC Building. We encourage as many of you to attend these talks as possible.
David Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English and Graduate Chair at the University of Pennsylvania will be kicking-off our new WGS annual lecture series—still to be named--that is tied to the Henry Rutgers Term Professorship. His talk is titled "(Gay) Panic Attack" and will be held on Thursday, October 12th--4:00 Reception, 4:30 PM Talk, in the Conference room of the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building.
Susan Martin will be visiting Rutgers as the Blanche, Edith, and Irving Laurie New Jersey Chair in Women’s Studies for the academic year 2017-2018. Our department co-sponsors this program in collaboration with Douglass Residential College and the Institute for Women’s Leadership. Susan Martin’s fall public lecture, “Refugee and Displaced Women—Progress, setbacks and Challenges Ahead” will be held on October 23rd from 6:30 to 8:30. We are hosting a noon lunch for Susan Martin on Tuesday, October 24th with students and faculty in the 3rd floor IWL library. All are welcome: if interested, RSVP to Mary Trigg.
Finally, please mark your calendars for Deborah Vargas’s inaugural lecture. It will be held on Thursday, January 24th and will begin with a 4:00 reception, 4:30 talk in the RDJC conference room. The title will be announced as we come closer to the date.
I’d also like to send best wishes for success in their endeavors to those of our friends and colleagues not with us this year: Judy Gerson (on a fellowship at the US Holocaust Museum) Kyla Schuller (on a fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center), Zakia Salime (on a Fulbright doing research in Morocco), and our former chair, Abena Busia, who has embarked on a Semester at Sea.
In closing, my final thanks go to Abena Busia for her faith in me, for preparing me to step into this new role—and for taking me to the Brodsky Center to borrow beautiful paintings for my new office because, in her words, “It is vital to the health of the department that that room be aesthetically comforting!” On that note, I end this letter of welcome and transition as I share the following letter from Abena Busia.