Neither Model Nor Muse: Women and Artistic Expression
This symposium explored the ways in which women have expressed themselves through three centuries and many art forms. By means of exhibits, performances, workshops, and other sessions, and from the perspective of students, faculty, staff, scholars, and, of course, artists, we considered domestic, visual, literary, and performing arts. The symposium opened with a performance by the Common Woman Chorus, which included songs from the Bingham Center's collection of sheet music and songs from the women's liberation movement. We closed with a dance performance by Choreo Collective called "Couplets," a collaboration with local poets from Carolina Wren Press. In addition, three related exhibits were displayed: "Stretching the Canvas: Women Explore the Arts"; "The Feminist Art Movement, 1970s-1980s"; and "Hidden and Forbidden: Literary Secrets and Transgressions." Pictures from the event are online.
Sisterhood, Riot Grrrl, and the Next Wave: Feminist Generations, Generating Feminisms
The theme of this symposium was intergenerational and transgenerational feminisms. Leaders and participants in the U.S. Women's Movement from the 1960s to the present including Duke faculty, students, staff, outside speakers and others came together to explore questions related to the genealogy of the movement and the evolution of feminist philosophy and practice. The keynote address was delivered by Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. In addition, there was an exhibit, " Word of a Woman: 40 Years of Feminist Publishing."
Abortion: Research, Ethics, & Activism
This symposium focused on the power and relevance of primary source materials to the history and future of abortion. Through a combination of plenary addresses and breakout sessions, the symposium addressed the relationship of the academy to social movements, the evolution of medical ethics, the intersection of feminism and abortion rights, international perspectives on access to abortion, and other topics. It offered an opportunity for scholars, students, activists, health care providers and others of varying viewpoints to join creators of collections held by the Bingham Center to discuss these topics. In conjunction with these events, the Bingham Center mounted two related exhibits at Perkins Library: The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture: Fifteen Years and Counting and A Century of Choices: Selections from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture. More information at: Abortion: Research, Ethics, and Activism.
Throw Like a Girl: A Dramatic Reading on Woman and Sport
Readings from the collections of the Bingham Center and the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, looking at the world of sports and athletics through the eyes of women and girls or those with ideas on proper forms of recreation for the female sex. From calisthenics to Title IX, the event was "more energizing and rousing than a trip to the gym." Readings were provided by members of the Perkins and RBMSCL staff and Duke faculty and students and included material from a variety of perspectives, dating from 1861-2000. The event was sponsored by the Sallie Binham Center for Women's History and Culture, the Duke University Archives, the Duke University Women's Center, and the Duke University Athletics Department.
Having Their Say: Women & Electoral Politics
The Bingham Center presented an evening of humorous and dramatic readings culled from its collections on women and politics. Members of the Duke community entertained a standing room only audience with readings ranging from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft, written in 1796, to "Dear Readers," a selection from The Coup, a zine by Allison Williams written in 2001.
A selection of these materials documenting the efforts of women working to effect social change through the political process was displayed in an exhibit. Items included materials related to Carrie Chapman Catt, one of the best known leaders of the woman suffrage movement; Lucy Randolph Mason, a champion of women's rights, child labor reform, and workers' rights; Mary Wollstonecraft, writer of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, the first great feminist treatise; Mary Octavine Thompson Cowper, an active member in the N.C. League of Women Voters from 1922-1930; Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum; and Geraldine Ferraro, first woman vice-presidential candidate on a national party ticket.
From Charleston to Poughkeepsie: Southern Women at Vassar in the 1880's
Celebrating the publication of Southern Women at Vassar: The Poppenheim Family Letters, 1882-1916, written by Dr. Joan Marie Johnson, Trinity '90.
Dr. Johnson's book, based upon the Mary and Louisa Poppenheim collection, features a stream of letters sent home by the Poppenheim sisters that chronicled the opportunities and ideals they encountered at Vassar. Their mother replied with gentle yet firm counsel on the "proper" responses of a southern lady. Intimate and searching, these letters reveal the struggle of two young women to resolve conventional southern expectations of women's roles with their interest in activism. Their letters also illuminate the tension between progress and tradition that characterized the New South. After remarks given by Dr. Johnson, Ann Gilson and Elizabeth Barney, Duke students, read as the sisters and Janie Morris, research services librarian in the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, acted as their mother for the evening.
Cocktails, Casseroles and Contraceptives
This evening of staged readings was held in conjunction with the exhibit, A Woman's Place: Evolutions and Revolutions in Domestic Culture from Catharine Beecher to Martha Stewart. Selections from the Bingham Center's prescriptive literature collections were read by Duke students, faculty, and staff. This evening was conceived as an "homage to Martha Stewart," and showcased, through a series of readings ranging chronologically from the mid-19th century until the present day, the ongoing practice of endeavoring to make our home lives more pleasant and livable.
Estrofest 1999! A Celebration of Women's Writing
Held in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, Estrofest was a gala evening of readings celebrating women's creativity. Duke students, faculty, and staff read selections from their own poetry and prose or shared the words of a woman whose work they admired. Displaying an impressive range and skill, the readers both entertained and enlightened. Borrowing from an Italian International Woman's Day tradition, each guest received a sprig of mimosa.
Memoirs and Manifestos
This event was an evening of readings to showcase the Center's collections. Ranging from a poignant letter written for a slave woman hoping to be reunited with her long-lost daughter to a hilarious lesson in facial exercises to maintain a youthful appearance, the readings evoked both tears and hoots of laughter. Local drama students and library staff members presented the dramatic interpretations. Now-comical advice related to health and manners contrasted with a moving excerpt from feminist author Alix Kates Shulman's Drinking the Rain.
Unveiled Intimacies: Women Documenting Women
The Bingham Center and Lilly Library hosted a screening of two documentaries made by women about the camaraderie that develops between women in different cultural contexts of two very intimate locations. The first film, The Ladies, is about Iranian women who create a private space in a public restroom in a Tehran park, and the other film, Ferry Tales, is about a group of women who bond in the women's room of the Staten Island Ferry. Discussion was facilitated by Professor Ellen McClarney, Department of Asian & African Languages & Literature.
Reproductive Rights: From the Back-Alleys to the Supreme Court and Beyond
This event featured an award winning 3-part documentary series by Dorothy Fadiman, Daniel Meyers, and Beth Seltzer:
Conversation was facilitated by a group of Duke staff, students, and faculty along with Durham community members.
Hands on the Freedom Plow
In celebration of the publication of the essay collection, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, editor Faith S. Holsaert and contributor Margaret Herring spoke along with Nia Wilson, Executive Director, and Mya Hunter, member of SpiritHouse, a local grassroots organization that supports the empowerment, transformation, and self-determination of marginalized communities of color. This event was co-sponsored by the Bingham Center, the North Carolina Collection at Durham County Library, and The Regulator Bookshop. Special thanks to SpiritHouse Inc. for putting a video of this program online.
LGBT History: Past, Present, and Future
On Saturday, April 14, James Sears gave a talk on "From Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: An Insider’s Look on Performing Non-Traditional Historical Research" in the Rare Book Room. An exhibit of materials from the Rare Book, Manuscripts, and Special Collections Library related to the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was also on display. The Mattachine Society was one of the earliest and most successful gay organizations in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Award-winning author, James Sears, well-known for his research on growing up gay in the south, gave an insider’s view of his six year research and writing project along with an overview of gay activism and the men’s movement across three generations (1900s-1960s).
The Sea Captain's Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century
Writer Martha Hodes read from her new book The Sea Captain's Wife in the Rare Book Room in Perkins Library. Hodes based much of her research for this book on the Lois Wright Richardson Davis Papers, 1851-1881, held in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. This event was sponsored by the History Department, the Program in African and African-American Studies, the Council on Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Women's Studies Department, and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.
BitchFest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine
Bitch magazine founding editors Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler read from their new anthology at The Regulator Bookshop. Since 1996, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture has been devoted to incisive commentary on our media-driven world, and this book highlights the best articles from the past ten years. The magazine's organization records are housed in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture. This event was sponsored by the Regulator Bookshop and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.
North Carolina Festival of the Book
As part of the NC Festival of the Book, the Women's Colloquium, and the Sallie Bingham Center hosted a conversation with local authors and publishers Kim Arrington, Andrea Selch, and author Elizabeth Brownrigg, about the lifecycles of their work. The writers did readings of their work and answered questions about their writing process.
Leaving Home, Becoming Home: An Interactive Reading on the Creative Process and the Archives
This interactive reading of the anthology Leaving Home, Becoming Home: Girls and Women Write About the Search for Self, highlighted the Bingham Center's acquisition of the records of the records of Charis Books and More, the oldest feminist bookstore in the Southeast. During the reading, the audience was encouraged to write down impressions of and thoughts inspired by the reading and these comments were added to the archival collection.
Duke Creative Writing Instructor Faulkner Fox read from her book Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life, Or, How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child. This memoir about her years as a pregnant wife and the mother of small children contains anecdotes and discusses issues about the conflicting emotions caused by motherhood.
Staff and Scholar's Teas
A tradition in Special Collections started by the Bingham Center, these events are organized in conjunction with the grants program of each of the research centers in RBMSCL. During their visits, grant recipients are invited to give a talk about their work and the collections they are using. Staff have an opportunity to suggest other collections that might be useful while all parties, including invited faculty and students, have a chance to hear how distinctive collections at Duke are supporting scholarship.
My Life in Zines
"My Life in Zines" featured local zine writers and collectors discussing how writing and reading zines influenced their lives. Jaime Danehey, spoke about how she and her sister turned their family newsletter into a zine called "The Daily The," which they have been publishing since the early 1990s. Alexis Gumbs, a graduate student in the English dept at Duke, shared how she uses zines by women of color in her coursework with undergraduates. Amy Mariaskin, a graduate student in psychology at Duke, discussed how being involved in zine culture shaped her adolescence, and as a child therapist, how she encourages artsy/crafty teens to find DIY communities. Jaime Danehey and Alexis Gumbs were interviewed on the WUNC radio program The State of Things. Listen to the clip online [18 min.].
On March 30, 2006, feminist filmmaker, photographer, and book artist, Tamar Stone visited Duke. The library recently acquired one of Tamar Stone's artists' books, "The Untitled Pink Corset Book." In her talk, Tamar discussed the creation of this piece and other works in her body image/images of women series as well as her career as an artist. "Tamar Stone explores society's changing conceptions of beauty, but more importantly, society's changing attitudes towards women's objectified place in society."
Air America Radio host and author of Bushwomen: How They Got Their Man in the White House, an investigation into the women in George W. Bush's administration, Laura Flanders gave a talk about her work in the Rare Book Room that was cosponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, the Women's Studies Program, the Baldwin Scholars Program, and the Duke University Libraries.
Renowned activist, author, journalist, and poet, Robin Morgan made Duke one of the first stops on her tour to introduce the third in her Sisterhood trilogy. The feminist anthology, Sisterhood is Forever, follows ground-breaking mainstays of the Women's Movement, Sisterhood is Powerful (1970) and Sisterhood is Global (1984). In honor of Morgan visit, guest teaching, and public lecture, Bingham Center staff culled from our extensive collections to mount an exhibit highlighting the forty years of feminist history documented in the trilogy and in Morgan's papers which are housed at Duke.
In addition to the exhibits mentioned in previous sections, the Bingham Center has created many displays, some of which are described here.
Book + Art: Artists' Books at Duke + UNC-Chapel Hill
Artists' books combine traditional arts such as graphic design, printmaking & bookbinding with the full spectrum of contemporary art practice and theory. The result is an art form with endless possibilities, all based on the beloved form of the book. Programming associated with the exhibit included a keynote lecture by Bea Nettles, book artist and photographer. More details: http://library.duke.edu/exhibits/bookart
Up My Pen: 19th Century British Women Writers
The 19th century was a time of industrialization, social reform, and debate about women’s place in society. This exhibit displayed items from the Bingham Center’s collection of fiction by 19th century British women and documents the wide range of writings produced by female writers: novels, poetry, prescriptive literature, textbooks, political pamphlets, feminist writing, magazines, diaries, and travel literature. It also shows the tremendous variety in publishing formats, from “triple decker” novels to periodicals. Highlights include a book of poetry by the Brönte sisters, a women’s suffrage pamphlet by Frances Power Cobbe, Frances M. Harvey’s illustrated diary from a trip up the Nile River, and a beautifully-illustrated copy of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market. Offering an in-depth look at 19th century women’s lives through their writing, this exhibit challenges conventional Victorian stereotypes, showing women as suffragists, world travelers, professional writers, poets, publishers, and labor reformers.
Thinking Outside the Book: New Forms by Women's Artists
An exhibit highlighting the Bingham Center's growing collection of artists' books by women. These works show us how women engage with traditional books arts in order to create idiosyncratic vehicles for their own creative expression. Also included in the exhibit were several items from the Sarah Dyer Zine Collection which illustrate the relationship between zines and artists' books. This exhibit was timed to coincide with a visit from and presentation by a collective of emerging artists and community activists, Project MOBILELIVRE/BOOKMOBILE Project, a mobile book arts gallery that tours the U.S. and Canada to bring the power of independent publications to the people.
Beyond Nancy Drew: Girls' Literature in the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
Amy Leigh and graduate intern Kelly Wooten created an exhibit highlighting a selection of books written for girls from the late 1800s through the 1990s, in conjunction with producing the bibliography of the same name. Most of the selected titles, whether fiction or prescriptive literature, reflected their era's notions of proper behavior for girls and young ladies, from table manners to appropriate career choices. The colorful covers attracted attention from undergraduate students intrigued by vintage ideas of girlhood and stirred nostalgia in those who read Cherry Ames and Trixie Belden stories while growing up. On the other end of the spectrum was a selection of feminist books from Lollipop Power, Inc., which published children's books during the 1970s and 1980s that portrayed non-sexist and non-stereotypical role models to empower and instruct children in diverse life situations. See also: Beyond Nancy Drew: A Guide to Girls Literature
A Woman's Place: Evolutions and Revolutions in Domestic Culture from Catharine Beecher to Martha Stewart
The exhibit cases were designed to represent the various rooms of a house (living room, kitchen, bedroom, nursery, laundry). The "rooms" were filled with materials, both printed and in manuscript form, that highlighted the Bingham Center's rich collections of prescriptive literature that document the changing views of domestic life. In conjunction with the exhibit, a series of panel discussions on various domestic issues took place as well as a dramatic reading of a selection of prescriptive literature entitled "Cocktails, Casseroles and Contraceptives."
Artful Narratives: Artist's Books by Women in the CWHC Collections
Cristina Favretto and graduate assistant Maureen McLarnon created an eye-catching exhibit of these lovely books. The books combine text, visual elements, and creative application of the book arts to create works that are sometimes poetic, sometimes witty, and always original.
Women's Autobiographies and Biographies: Inspiring Feminist Consciousness
Elizabeth Dunn organized an exhibit in the Biddle Rare Book Room cases in conjunction with historian Gerda Lerner's lecture on Women's Autobiographies and Biographies. The exhibit presented the results of an informal survey of Duke students, faculty, and staff, who were asked what woman's story inspired them or changed their values or aspirations. Responses were enthusiastic and varied, including works by or about Zelda Fitzgerald, Helen Keller, Bernadette Devlin, Virginia Woolf, Saint Teresa of Avila, and many more.
The Perfect Woman: 100 Years in the Making
Cristina Favretto and Ellen Gartrell, Director of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, collaborated on this major exhibit. Exploring the 20th-century's quest for the feminine ideal, the exhibit drew heavily on a wide range of advertising materials. Visitors enjoyed tracing the changing ideal from the languid, bustled beauties of the 1890s to the briefcase-toting, aerobicizing career woman of the 1990s. Library staff members generously lent a variety of artifacts to enhance the exhibit. Collectible Barbie dolls, clothing items, vintage toilet articles, and workout tapes added to the nostalgia. Two cases labeled "Marrying Up, Slimming Down, and Having it All" presented a selection of prescriptive literature, designed to instruct young women about proper deportment, household management, dress, and grooming. The exhibit coincided with a Literature Program conference on gender and technology. Students and library visitors picked up over 800 copies of the brochure that accompanied the exhibit.
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