Women's History Month

March 1, 2023

Dear Brandeis Community,

According to the Women’s History Month website, Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week. In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.

Here at Brandeis, the roots of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department can be traced back to 1975 when women’s studies began with a single course. Transitioning from a robust program to a full-fledged department in 2020, WGS now offers a minor, major and several joint master’s programs. Its mission is to explore how gender and sexuality as they intersect with race, ethnicity, class, religion and age form a crucial dimension of identity, society and politics in different cultural and historical settings. The WGS timeline shows the department's evolution.

Brandeis enjoys a long and storied feminist history and legacy. We are proud of the notable genealogy of canonical Black feminist thinkers who were students and faculty (including current professors) at the university: Pauli Murray, Angela Davis, Julieanne Richardson, Hortense Spillers, Patricia Hill Collins, Karen E. Fields, M Jacqui Alexander, Anita Hill, Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Jasmine Johnson and Faith Smith, among others. Our current Black feminist scholar Shoniqua Roach is a pioneering academic and public intellectual in the fields of Black feminist theory, Black queer studies, and Black popular and quotidian performances studies.

Brandeis feminist alumnae have also been prominent trailblazers in their fields including literary critic Elaine Showalter, sociologist and psychoanalyst Nancy Chodorow, physicist Evelyn Fox Keller, historian Joan Wallach Scott, and many more. Letty Cottin Pogrebin is best known as the founding editor of Ms. Magazine. These are but a few of the prominent feminist names that are associated with Brandeis University.

This month, WGS will host the 2023 Tillie K. Lubin Symposium:

Decolonizing Genders and Sexualities

  • A conversation with Tiffany Lethabo King and Cutcha Risling Baldy
  • 4 – 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, 2023
  • Rapaporte Treasure Hall

The Women’s Studies Research Center will host:

In Iran's Streets and on the World Stage: Two Artists Talk About Women, State, and Politics

  • Featuring author Marjan Kamali and Assistant Professor of Studio Art Sheida Soleimani
  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, 2023
  • Women's Studies Research Center

And The Heller School will host:

Conversations on Equity and Justice - Reproductive Freedom: Legal Rights, Political Context and Opportunities for Action

  • Featuring women's rights attorney and activist Julie F. Kay in conversation with Interim Dean Maria Madison in the Zinner Forum and on Zoom.
  • 12:30 – 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, 2023,  International Women's Day
  • Heller School

We are also pleased to announce that the Women’s Studies Research Center and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies jointly applied for and received a Mellon Sawyers Seminar Grant for "Imperiled Bodies: Slavery, Colonialism, Citizenship and the Logics of Gender-based Violence." The seminar, led by Professors Anita Hill, ChaeRan Freeze, and Harleen Singh will host a number of panels and events in the 2023-24 academic year.

We hope that you will join us in our upcoming events and celebrate Women’s History Month at Brandeis and beyond.

In celebration,

ChaeRan Y. Freeze
Chair, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

LeManuel Lee Bitsóí
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion