Statement of Pride 2018

Nearly three years ago, a student came to the Sarah Isom Center with a dream of a Pride parade and a permit from the city.  Six weeks later, the Sarah Isom Center launched Oxford’s first Pride Parade. Allies rushed forward to march in the parade, and many LGBTQ students were overwhelmed with the love and acceptance they felt on that day.  Last year, our Pride Weekend expanded its partnerships and brought Big Freedia and drag performers from Pulse Nightclub in Orlando to Oxford.

Oxford Pride has now simply become part of who we are as a community, and this year, in light of other community’s attempts to prevent pride parades, we are extraordinarily grateful for the Oxford community’s embrace of the LGBTQ community.

The Sarah Isom Center believes the Pride parade needs to be a vibrant event every year, to demonstrate our values as a community.  To do that, we need your energy, your creativity, and your presence.  The theme for this year’s parade is “Can’t Stop the Beat,” a response to a year of setbacks and the ongoing resilience of the LGBTQ community.  We invite you to march, build floats, and make signs; we also invite you to gather along the parade route’s sidewalks and balconies and cheer on the participants, many of whom are participating in their very first Pride parade.  Show all who come to the Oxford Pride parade what we stand for and who we stand up for. 

We invite you to plan for our many events, including music, food, film, “Let’s Make a Wheel of Bingo,” drag shows, alumni reunion events, and fundraisers.  For more details about Pride Weekend, please go to oxfordpride.rocks

We continue to be proud to be part of the Oxford community, and we hope that, at a time when many in the LGBTQ community feel embattled and exhausted, you can come remind us all of the acceptance, love, and inclusion that defines our community. 

We hope to see you at any and all events! 

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Summer and Fall 2018 Course Offerings

We have a terrific roster of Gender Studies courses in the fall, and we want to make sure you get first dibs in registration.

We are offering Feminist Philosophy for the first time (a hybrid course), and a new online course on Trans Theory (offered under GST 333, Theories in Gender).

We are also offering a number of live classes that haven’t been offered in several years: Women in Politics, Queer Playwriting, Gender in Latin America, and African American Women’s History.

 Add to these a number of specialty courses—Women, Bodies and Horror (online); Environmental Nonfiction, Fiction, and Poetry; Gay and Lesbian Literature (with the theme “Genderqueer,” focusing on narratives that trouble the gender binary), and a wide range of courses on gender in religion, geography, history, literature, media, and film, and we have an exciting array of offerings.  In addition, we are developing a new emphasis on digital media and feminist activism, starting with Professor Alysia Steele’s course on women’s oral history through podcasting this fall. 

Register! Tell your friends! Take advantage of an embarrassment of riches.  The future is female, feminist, and queer. Come join us.

Click here for full list of current courses.

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Interdisciplinarity and Gender Studies: A Manifesto

When women’s studies programs first emerged, in the 1970s, they were shoestring operations, created by professors who wanted to merge their professional lives with their political lives. Some had marched, others had written for feminist periodicals, but all shared the desire to transform the university into a place more hospitable to women, in policies and curricula.  They began a “long march across the disciplines,” as feminist scholar Rachel Blau DuPlessis put it in a seminar back in the 1990s; her allusion to Mao’s famous march from Canton to Xian province, long before he would complete his communist revolution in China, suggested a that making universities more feminist would require a similar mix of endurance, commitment, and daring, one that could not be achieved in days or weeks but would require years, even decades.  And that implicit gesture toward revolution invoked subversive, transformative practices. Though the reality was much less dramatic, women studies pioneers emphasized feminist modes of inquiry that questioned standard assumptions about scope, methodology, and appropriate boundaries.  Women’s studies ranged across the disciplines, informing practice with theory and theory with practice moved from theory to practice to theory, and insisted on truly interdisciplinary inquiry that allowed questions of gender and sexuality to upset the ideological apple cart on a regular basis.

Much has changed, including the evolution of women’s studies programs into gender and sexuality studies and the investment of most universities in gender studies departments.  Certainly, institutional status has been important for the longevity of gender studies as it has evolved into a stand-alone discipline.  But something has also been lost—not only disruptive conversations between scholars of different disciplines about questions of gender and sexuality, but collaborations between gender studies programs and women’s centers, where programming and advocacy inform teaching and scholarship.  The recent decision of the National Women’s Studies Association to exclude women’s center directors from the steering committee of the association suggests that the consolidation of gender studies as a stand-alone academic discipline has alienated NWSA from its activist roots.

The University of Mississippi never invested in its gender studies program as other universities did in the 1970s and 1980s; unlike many of our SEC peers, we have no tenure track faculty in gender studies, no separate women’s center and gender studies program, and very little infrastructure and institutional support.  This is an ongoing challenge FOR the Sarah Isom Center, make no mistake.  And yet, perhaps because of this, we remain closer to the original disruptive vision of gender studies as an interdisciplinary venture, one that brings the energy, expertise, and enthusiasm of scholars and activists from a number of disciplines, experiences, nationalities, ethnicities, and sexualities to create innovative scholarship and programming.

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