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March 25-27, 2010 Panel Title: From Sexy Archives to Translucent Wombs: Ideological Shifts and Changing Representations of Gender, Space, and Place Panel Abstract: This panel investigates ideological shifts in archival research, reproductive technology, feminisms, and feminist geography as a means to elaborate on tensions between changing representations of place²the home, the body, and the archive²and space²the womb, suburbia, and world cities. We address both the real and the imaginary by centralizing the role of popular culture in gender studies. In this panel, intimate social spaces, such as the womb, are theorized as sites of a growing marketplace economy; we address the need for academic attention to desire, fantasy, and sexual pleasure and discuss feminist resistance to silences in the archive; and homes are treated as sites of collective and individual identity. Each of these spaces of intimacy is integral to the place of context. From a woman¶s body to her home in the suburbs, from fantasies of sex in Cosmo to desire and pleasure in the archive, we argue that shifting technologies facilitate changing understandings of liminal bodies²knowledge, archives, and women²all the while pointing to the greater context of local and global economies, which necessitate shifting academic attentions to gender, space, and place. Panel keywords: intimate spaces, liminal bodies, popular media Technology Requested: PowerPoint Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Gender Studies Indiana University Bloomington Memorial Hall East, 130 1021 E. Third Street Bloomington, Indiana 47405
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Individual participants Laura Harrison Associate Instructor Department of Gender Studies Indiana University Bloomington email@example.com Key words: reproduction, surrogacy, technology Abstract: Picturing the Fetus: Fetal Personhood, Surrogacy and Surveillance In the contemporary United States, the womb is a space that evokes vivid imagery of maternal love, patience, and safety. Imagined as a safe haven for the gestating fetus, the womb is a space that is increasingly both permeable and visible through the use of advanced medical technologies that monitor and visualize the fetus. In addition, the meaning of the fetus has undergone massive shifts in recent decades as the concept of fetal personhood has gained cultural and medical legitimacy. All pregnancies are impacted by these developments, but women who act as gestational surrogates may have an increased likelihood of encountering surveillance during their pregnancy in order to reassure the prospective parents of the health and safety of the baby-to-be. This essay argues that the womb of the surrogate is a liminal space ± the fetus is reliant upon the surrogate for survival and is sustained by her body, yet gestational surrogates are not biological or social ³mothers´ to the children that they bear. The space of the womb has been refigured by technologies such as ultrasound and fetal monitoring, and by the emergence of the fetal person/patient, which impacts public perception of surrogacy as a free market commodity. Bio: Laura Harrison is a doctoral student and Associate Instructor in the Gender Studies program at Indiana University. Her research analyzes the implications of new reproductive technologies on family formation, women¶s reproductive freedom, and the changing meaning of race in the United States, with attention to representations of fetal personhood and maternal-fetal conflict.
Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams John H. Edwards Fellow, 2009-10 Department of Gender Studies Indiana University Bloomington firstname.lastname@example.org Keywords: Popular Culture, Market Development, Feminisms The Cosmopolitan Effect: Popular Culture, International Market Development, and ³Incommensurable´ Feminisms In the late nineteenth century, The Cosmopolitan Magazine brought literature and international politics into more homes than any other magazine available on the U.S. market as one of the first mass marketed periodicals. The magazine helped to construct a homogenous Panel Proposal Page 2
vision of American national character against its many ³Others.´ Today, Cosmopolitan is the world¶s number one selling women¶s ³lifestyle´ magazine available in more than 100 countries in over 50 languages. Why is this particular magazine, critiqued by feminists for promoting sexist ideals, enjoying such global success? Scholars internationally are engaging with Cosmopolitan in connection to the development of regional marketplaces and are implicating Cosmo as a source of tension for emergent and competing feminist discourses about gender and sexuality. This paper seeks to bring this growing archive together in conversation with Cosmo¶s own U.S. history to illustrate the historic importance of popular culture in general and Cosmopolitan Magazine in particular to capitalistic marketplace development and identity making across space and time. This paper demonstrates that popular culture is integral both as a site of anxiety for and access to feminist movements nationally, while providing readers a means to observe the continual ³trouble´ with gender, sexuality, and media feminisms as forms of identity politics internationally. Bio: Cierra Olivia Thomas-Williams has been awarded IU's 2009-10 John H. Edwards fellowship for "good citizenship, character, and especially attitude toward public service.´ Ms. Thomas-Williams is one of the 2007 Friends of the Kinsey Institute grant recipients for collaborative research on sexuality and her areas of interest are the representations of women of color in media; critical race and feminist theories; and transnational feminisms as they intersect with theories of the Black Diaspora.
Jessica Wall Associate Instructor Department of Gender Studies Indiana University Bloomington email@example.com Keywords: Silences, Pleasure, Sexualities Silent Spaces: In Search of a History of Pleasure The field of history has long fought against accepting sex and sexuality as historical entities. I now wish to challenge the idea that desire and pleasure are also ahistorical. While not all sexual activities are driven by pleasure and desire, as feminist historians and theorists have made clear, the ubiquity of sexual violence, rape and power differentials have erased neither pleasure nor desire from the historical records. Within historiographies of sexuality, a silence exists in connection to sexual pleasure and desire. This absence of space in this historiography is both troubling and unnecessary. Those historians who do tackle sexual desire and pleasure rely on representations of pleasure and desire²diaries, letters, and literature. While these works may shift our understandings about an old misconception, largely that of Victorian passionlessness, can this representation-based archive adequately support a history of pleasure and desire? If we reconsider these silences through a shift of questions, a clear history of desire and pleasure emerges. I propose a move away from this silence within histories of sexualities toward a history of pleasures and desires. Those works focusing on representation have already wrought some of the changes I call for through Panel Proposal Page 3
positioning the body as a location of sexuality, of desire, or pleasure. I will show that with a bit of creativity, it is possible to carve a space for pleasure and desire within the archive.
Bio: Jessica Wall is a fourth year graduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington. Jessica has an MA from IUB in History. Seeking a dual PhD in History and Gender Studies, Jessica¶s research and writings focus on issues of reproductive rights and justice within the US, and sexuality more broadly.
Stacy Weida Associate Instructor Department of Gender Studies Indiana University Bloomington firstname.lastname@example.org Keywords: suburbia, America, symbolic ecology McMansions and Empty Cul-de-sacs: Contemporary Representations of Suburbia Scholars in a variety of fields have examined postwar U.S. suburbs. As a new manifestation of the American Dream, both the actual built environments themselves and the idealized images that circulated in the media encouraged new ways of constructing collective and individual subjectivities. But while extensive academic work has been done on the suburbs of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, suburbia remains central to the daily lives and collective national imaginary of many Americans. As of 2004 more Americans lived in suburbs than anywhere else, with many individuals working, shopping, and socializing almost exclusively in suburbs. Suburbs are still the setting for most contemporary sitcoms and prime-time soaps. Given that the recent real estate boom and bust has once again changed the landscape of America and renewed the suburbs as a symbol of national hope and anxiety, this is the perfect time to re-examine the ways in which the suburbs and the suburban home, both real and imagined, influence collective and individual identities. Accordingly, I examine both in-depth news coverage of the foreclosure crisis confronting the nation as well as contemporary fictional representations of suburban life in order to map the evolving ³symbolic ecology´ of contemporary suburbia, paying particular attention to issues of gender, class, and citizenship.
Bio: Stacy Weida has an MA in American Studies from Purdue University and is currently a fourth year graduate student working on a PhD in Gender Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. An Associate Instructor in the Gender Studies Department, her research interests include feminist geography, sitcoms, embodiment, and materialist feminism.
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