April 4 and 5: Sixth Annual Gender Conference

Sapphire author

Voice and Visibility

Penn State Behrend’s Sixth Annual Gender Conference

April 4 and 5, 2013

Featuring a talk by Sapphire, the author of “Push”

Teenager Precious Jones is illiterate, impoverished, pregnant, and a victim of incest. The protagonist of Sapphire’s acclaimed 1996 novel Push (later adapted as the Academy Award winning 2009 film Precious) is the kind of narrator who is rarely heard from in contemporary American fiction. But through her experiences at an alternative school, Precious learns to write and to reclaim her voice.

“You know, [for so long] there has just been this space filled by statistics and jokes, but never with a real human being,” author Sapphire has said about her creation. “And in that way I feel I've done my work . . . every time I let Precious’s voice come through, I just felt the rawness and the power coming from a worthy human being.”

In celebration of Sapphire’s April 4 speaking engagement at Penn State Behrend, the theme of this year’s gender conference is Voice and Visibility. Whose voices have been forgotten? Who are the faces over-saturating our popular culture? What subjects remain taboo, and what do they reveal about ourselves? How can the humanities and the arts illuminate new stories and provide new perspectives? We welcome papers, posters, multi-media projects, panels and roundtable discussions.

About the Conference

The annual gender conference provides a forum for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage academic work on issues of gender and to hold a campus-wide discussion. No previous conference experience is required, and students from all academic disciplines are welcomed. We strive to provide a thoughtful but low-key experience. To submit an idea for consideration, email behrend.gender.conference@gmail.com. Please provide a title for your proposed project, and make sure that you have delivered a clear explanation of how it relates to the theme. All submissions will receive a response. Any questions about the process should be addressed to Dr. Sarah Whitney at sew17@psu.edu. The deadline for submissions for this year's conference is now closed.

Conference Schedule

Friday April 5

10:10-11:00: “Difficult Subjects in Life and Writing, Part  II”
Ms. Elizabeth Fogle, facilitator

  • Jessica Gaton - “Reproductive Health and Occupational Health: How Can the Workplace Change?”
  • Krista Banks – “This Beastly Game of Beauty”
  • Andrea Chiodo – “Erie Women’s Resources:  The Story of A Website”
  • Megan Sipos – “The Art Lover”


1:00-1:30:  Poster Session #2:  “Celebrating African American Women’s History”

  • Kristina Krozak (Bessie Coleman)
  • Monique LeBrun (Coretta Scott King)
  • Jelynn Frisby  (Lena Horne)
  • Tenay Russell (Oprah Winfrey)

1:30-2:15PM:  “Gender and Sexuality  - A Student Roundtable”
Dr. Mara Taylor, facilitator

2:30-3:15:  “Gender Stereotypes in Science - A Student Roundtable”
Dr. Amy Carney, facilitator

3:30-4:15:  “ Literature For Adolescent Girls – Where Are We Going?”
Dr. Sarah Whitney, facilitator

  • Megan Morrow – “A Shift from ‘Sensible’ to ‘Passionate’ Love”
  • Allyson Elliott – “Twilight:  A Sensationalistic Little Women
  • Gwen Griffin – “The Heroine Hassle”

4:15-4:45:  “Sexual Violence in the Media: New Perspectives”
Dr. Kim Todd, facilitator

  • Elisa Kownacki and Kalli Oberlander – “A Multimedia Presentation on The Quiet
  • Racheal Sporcic,  “Rap Music and Female Sexual Objectification”

6PM –  Faculty Performance"Resisting Fascism's New Man: Mario Castlenuovo-Tedesco's settings for voice of Walt Whitman's 'Calamus' Poems"

  • Dr. John Champagne
  • Dr. Salvatore Champagne (Oberlin College)
  • Dr. Howard Lubin (Oberlin College)

In 1936, Italian Jewish composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco set for voice ten of Walt Whitman's "Calamus" poems.  Following a performance of the cycle, we will discuss the songs in their historical context, focusing on such topics as the reception of Walt Whitman in Italy, Italian Fascist patronage of the arts, and Castlenuovo-Tedesco's aesthetic.  Our argument is that this song cycle complicates the received wisdom that artistic representations of masculinity in the Fascist period always towed the Fascist party line.  Specifically, the version of masculinity that emerges from the songs is not the Fascist dream of a virile masculinity poised to "believe, obey, fight."



Event Contact Name: 
Sarah Whitney
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