The Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies

Lucy Somerville
Howorth Lecture Series

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 Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens

2018 Lucy Somerville Howorth Lecturer

Former UM professor Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens will deliver this year’s Lucy Somerville Howorth Lecture. Join us for Dr. Cooper Owens’ talk entitled "Medical Bondage and the Birth of American Gynecology," where she will discuss how the institution of slavery aided early Southern gynecological surgeons to advance the field based on their experimental work on enslaved women. Her lecture will be October 4th at 4 PM in Lamar 126.

About Deirdre Cooper Owens:

Deirdre Cooper Owens is an Associate Professor of History at Queens College, CUNY. She holds an M.A. in African American Studies from Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles where she also received a certificate in Women’s Studies. Cooper Owens has received numerous awards and fellowships including a residential postdoctoral fellowship at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia and an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Fellowship to explore medicine, gender and the historical influence of race on each of these categories. 

Her book, Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology , was released in 2017 by The University of Georgia Press

About the Lecture Series

 The Hon. Lucy Somerville Howorth

The Hon. Lucy Somerville Howorth

To honor her long career in public service and her enthusiastic support of women’s rights, the Lucy Somerville Howorth Lecture Series was established at the University of Mississippi. The endowed series brings distinguished speakers to the campus in the area of women’s studies. A native Mississippian born July 1, 1895, Howorth received her undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. One of only two women in her law school class, she had the highest average in the 1922 graduating class and delivered the commencement address. She practiced law in Cleveland and Greenville and later in Jackson with her husband Joseph. In 1924 she was appointed by the Governor to the State Board of Law Examiners, an extraordinary appointment for a woman at that time. She served as chairwoman from 1924-1928. From 1927-1931, she was US Commissioner for the Southern District of Mississippi. In1932 she became Hinds County’s first female representative in the Mississippi Legislature. In 1935 President Franklin Roosevelt appointed her to the Administrative Court of the National Board of Veterans’ Appeals. She later became the first woman to serve as general counsel for the War Claims Commission. From 1955-1957, she served on the Commission on Government Security.Howorth was one of nine American women selected to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for her lasting impact on American society on the 40 th anniversary of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College. Randolph-Macon Woman’ College awarded her the Alumnae Achievement Award, and she was inducted into the UM Alumni Hall of Fame in 1984.Friends further honored her by establishing the Howorth Award at UM’s Sarah Isom Center to annually recognize the best graduate research paper on women’s issues during the annual Howorth Lecture Series. The first award was presented in 1985. Howorth served 10 years on the national board of the Business and Professional Women’s Club and is a former national vice-president of the American Association of University Women, which raised $90,000 to establish the Lucy Somerville Howorth Endowed Fund. The fund assists women in reaching their potential through education. Howorth died August 23, 1997, at the age of 102.

Learn more about the trailblazing life of Lucy Somerville Howorth at Mississippi History Now.

Recent Lecturers

Howorth Lectures have focused on a variety of topics.  In 2015, Professor Laura Doan of Manchester University spoke on Inventing Normal Sex: Marie Stopes’ Wonderful Rhythm Charts.  In 2014, author and screenwriter David Simon spoke about gender, film, and television in the Lafayette County courthouse.  In 2011, Dr. Amy Agigian, founder and Director of the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, spoke on Fertility, Infertility and Feminism: Examining Infertility from a Women’s Rights Perspective. Other Howorth Lectures have been Talking Race and Gender: Ending Domination by bell hooksWomen, Islam and Democracy in the Middle East: The Case of Iran by Nayereh Tohidi, Ph.D., A Women’s Agenda: Having Our Say in 2008 and Beyond by Avis Jones-DeWeever, Do That Voodoo You Do So Well: New Interpretations of an Old Spirituality by Martha Ward, Research Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies, University of New Orleans;  Images of the Disabled in Popular Photography by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, Emory University; and Our Civil Rights and the Future, by Sarah Weddington, attorney who won the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973.