Issue I - Fall 2014
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Elizabeth Gregory, Ph.D., Director, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies DepartmentFrom the Director's Desk

Elizabeth Gregory

Greetings WGSS Students, Faculty, Staff & Community!

We’re happy to welcome the class of 2018 to campus, and to welcome back our returning students—both undergrads and grads.  This is an exciting time at UH, made all the more exciting by the presence of so many students living in the new dorms, zooming around on skateboards.
WGSS joins the expansive mood with a new WGSS major in development, to go online in Fall 2015.  In preparation for that we’re offering several new courses as electives: Gender, Society & Feminist Theory and Gender and Transnational Studies, both taught this term by Dr. Rachel Quinn, who returns this year as a Visiting Scholar.
We’re happy to welcome as well our new postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Sarah Luna, a San Antonio native who joins us with a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.   She’ll be teaching Introduction to Women’s Studies this Fall this Fall and a course on Queer Theory in the Spring.

Our WGSS suite has undergone a refresh thanks to the great eye of FWS Program Director Ayanna Mccloud.   Please stop by and visit our newly lovely digs if you’re in the neighborhood!
We’re happy to announce the winners of this year’s scholarships, fellowships and prizes (story below) – funded by the Friends of Women’s Studies.   Another year of many great applicants – the judges always have a hard time picking just the few winners from among our many incredible students.  (If you’re interested in funding additional scholarships for next year, be in touch!)
This year Susana Monteverde, our fabulous board chair for the past three years, turns her role over to incoming chair Geordie Hrdlicka.  BIG thanks to Susana for her wonderful, engaged and engaging work with FWS, and a big welcome to Geordie.  Thanks too to the nine board members rolling off this year and to the nine new members joining us (see below). The FWS membership campaign is on now – make sure you’re current in time for the October 7th Fast Friends at another fabulous location—for members only.

We have lots of activities on the horizon.  The University has been awarded an NSF ADVANCE grant, to advance the recruitment and retention of female faculty in STEM fields.  The grant aims among other things to transform campus culture for women faculty overall, with the downstream aim of attracting more women students to STEM fields. This means there will be a lot of focus on shifting gender scripts and policies that enforce antiquated work patterns. President Khator is the PI, and Provost Short is the Advance Center Director. To inaugurate the grant, UH will host Dr. Ruth Simmons, the recently retired President of Brown University, also an Advance grant recipient. Dr. Simmons will speak on Oct. 21st at 4pm in the Optometry College auditorium. The event is open to the community.   The McGovern Endowed Lecture on Family, Health & Human Values will be given this year on October 30th by Professor Jennifer Glass, Barbara Bush Prof of Sociology at UT.  Nominated by WGSS, Dr. Glass will speak on the factors that move women out of the STEM pipeline in academia and industry and how they might be addressed.  Her talk will be part of the Advance grant kickoff.
Our Barbara Karkabi Living Archives series kicked the term off to a lively start on September 15th – with a panel on Women in Film.   The second panel on Rethinking the School Schedule is booked for October 31st.  Spring panels will include a great “only in Houston” Women in Energy group, with long experience in many sectors of the industry, a panel on Transgender experience on February 9th and a panel on Women & Peace Activism on April 20th.  Also this Spring, we're thrilled to co-host with the English Department renowned literary theorist, translator and philosopher Gayatri Spivak, for a talk on January 29th, be hosting archival scholar Maria Cotera on March 9th, and on March 19th through 22nd, we’ll welcome an international conference on the great Modernist poet Marianne Moore (co-sponsored by the English Department's Houstoun Endowment and the El Paso Corporation Lecture Series).
On the Table Talk front, we have another stellar event in the works.  Co-chairs Caroline Fant and Mandy Kao have gathered a great host committee to honor another amazing roster of conversationalists.  We’re thrilled this year for the first time to have an honorary chair—and who better to inaugurate that role than Houston fashion entrepreneur Tina Knowles.  Save the date for March 6, 2015 at the Hilton Americas.   Book your table now! We’re looking forward to another fast-talking, sell-out crowd.  Be there or be …. lonely.
There are lots more activities coming up, on campus and off – look for our monthly updates in your email.  Best wishes to all for a fabulous Fall!

Scholarships and Fellowships for 2014-15

Undergrad and Graduate Students

Blanche Espy Chenoweth Graduate Fellowship ($2500)
Emily Bernate Hispanic Studies

For work on her dissertation, on verbal politeness and gender

Maud Smith Paddock Graduate/
Undergraduate Fellowship ($2500)
Marcia Beyer Political Science

For work on her dissertation, on Campaign Rhetoric and the Gender Gap in American Politics

Elizabeth Smith Chenoweth Undergraduate Fellowship ($2500)

Michael Lenmark 

Patricia Eichhorn
Fellowship ($500)
Georganne Boardman
Art History

FWS Graduate Travel Grant ($750)

Tracy Butler 

For research on her dissertation "Making Gringolandia: Race, Gender and American Cultural Power in Cancun, 1970-2000."

Trevor Boffone
Hispanic Studies

For research on his dissertation
on the work of Josefina Lopez

Faculty Summer Fellowships

Daphne Hernandez
Health & Human Performance

For research on links between
food insecurity and obesity

Amanda Baumle Sociology

For work on project "Separation & Divorce
in a Heteronormative Legal System:
How Gender &  Sexuality Shape
Legal Outcomes for Same-Sex Couples"


Table Talk 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015


The Hilton Americas, Houston
Co-chairs: Caroline Fant and Mandy Kao
Honorary Chair: Tina Knowles

Table Talk, Houston’s premier networking luncheon, brings together a dynamic and diverse group of Houston women in a format that builds connections in support of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Houston. Table Talk 2015, the eighteenth annual, scheduled for Friday, March 6, 2015, at the Hilton Americas, will again honor fifty Houston women of accomplishment from many fields and backgrounds.  One at each table, they will share their life experiences and stories with the guests seated with them.  This year's Table Talk is co-chaired by Caroline Fant and Mandy Kao. In addition this year, we’re proud to announce our first Honorary Chair, Ms Tina Knowles.

After last year’s record sell out, we’re getting an early start for 2015.  Reserve your table now to honor women leaders from across our city.  All the conversationalists are terrific. The higher your table level, the better your odds for getting your first choice. 


New Postdoctoral Fellow

Sarah Luna - WGSS

I am delighted to join the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program as a Postdoctoral Fellow.  I earned my Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Chicago in December of 2013. Originally from San Antonio, I was a first generation college student at UTSA, where I majored in anthropology and minored in WGS.  I’m very happy to return to Texas and to have the opportunity to work at one of the most diverse research universities in the country.

I’m currently teaching Intro to Women’s Studies, and in the Spring I’ll teach Sexuality and Queer Theory.  I’m working on my first book manuscript, Sex Workers and Missionaries Transforming Value(s) on the Mexico/U.S. Border.  The book examines the projects of two kinds of migrants to a Mexican border city prostitution zone:  (mostly Mexican) women who migrated to labor as sex workers and (mostly American) evangelical missionaries who migrated to build relationships with and a “modern day monastery” for sex workers.  My analysis of how these migrants created value through relations of love and obligation forges a dialogue between feminist approaches to sex work and the “rescue industry” and anthropological theories of value.

I have also participated in collaborative feminist conceptual art projects with artists, academics, and curators, which have resulted in performances in San Diego, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.   I hope to continue some of these projects in Houston.


Alumna Spotlight

Ana Serrano, 2012

My name is Ana Serrano, and I graduated with my B.S. Degree in Psychology with a minor in Women's Studies in May 2012. Currently, I am the Future Professional Advisor for the night program at Paul Mitchell the School, Houston. I am also currently pursuing my MEd degree in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs at the University of Houston-Victoria. In WGSS I learned a great deal not only about women's roles in society, but about how we have helped shape history (my women's history and women's lit courses were my favorites). All my WGSS courses broadened my worldview and enhanced my critical thinking skills. Additionally, learning about the gender inequalities and challenges women face transformed not only my college learning experience, but my life as a whole. They motivated and inspired me to know that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I think women's studies programs enhance the lives of all who dive into them. They teach you to look at the world in a more holistic manner. A lot of people think that the courses are just about women, but in actuality they are about the human experience. I will forever be grateful to my professors who taught me that in order to experience life you must view it from all perspectives, a woman's included.


FWS Board President 

Geordie Hrdlicka


Salutations All!

I am thrilled to serve as as President of the Friends of Women's Studies. I cannot begin to express my appreciation to our Past President Susanna Monteverde for carving the road to the future for our Board and leading us into a new era.  Our FWS Board is so proud to support the WGSS Program as it makes its way toward a Major under the leadership of Elizabeth Gregory.

What do the FWS do?  We support WGSS through fundraising and raising awareness about why women's issues and opinions count.  Why am I honored to be a Friend?   I feel elevated by the women and men who surround me who are keenly aware of the issues facing our world and the impact we can have on their direction and dimensions.  I am literally smarter after walking out of one of our Board meetings, events or social gatherings.  It’s also an exhilarating time to be part of this dynamic group of people at the University as our city expands. 

How can you get on board?  Become an FWS member!  Attend our Living Archives series and Fast Friends events.  And…bring your joyful voice to our amazing Table Talk event in the Spring to celebrate and meet 50 of our Houston area female pioneers in fields such as medicine, arts, government, energy, social work, to name just a few.  You will never be the same after your first Table Talk.

I could not end this short missive without saying that part of the draw to serve as President is working so closely with the  passionate people who really make things happen—Program Manager Ayanna Mccloud, the WGSS faculty, and the many past and present Board members who give their time, ideas and funds to move us toward a fair future.

News from the Shuart Women's Archive

Vince Lee

Update on the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives, collections incoming:

This fall our collection expands to include the papers of Betty C. Jukes. An active community servant, in 1968 Mrs. Jukes founded the Houston Junior Woman’s Club -- an organization dedicated to serving the needs of Houston children. For many years she organized the City of Houston Mayoral luncheons and the Houstonian of the Year dinners. She's also been actively involved with the UH Moores School of Music, Houston Youth Symphony, and the March of Dimes, among many others. We visited Betty at her home in Georgetown TX to facilitate the transfer of her collection, which spans over 45 years of her life's work. We are honored to have the Grand Dame of the Arts as part of the Shuart Women's Archives.

This fall as well, we'll be receiving the Houston Area Fiber Artists collection, through the efforts of Peggy Sexton. The group's mission lies in promoting and advancing fiber as an art form, through the education of the group's members and through the exhibitions and educational activities hosted by the group for the public. Current President, Linda Thompson, of Creative Couture Garments, informs us we can expect yearbooks, newsletters, clippings, articles minutes, and other ephemera that go back to 1969.

If you haven’t had a chance to check lately, six new videos of the Barbara Karkabi Living Archives series have gone up on the Digital Library. These segments include featured interviewees Tina Knowles, Joanne King Herring, and our very own Chancellor and President Renu Khator. Area women have been spotlighted as well in panel discussions on The Green Women of Houston, Designing Women: Three Architecture Deans, and Stirring the Pot: Houston Cooks and Food Activists. These segments can all be found on the Digital Library website.

Visting Scholar

Rachel Afi Quinn

I came to Houston in fall of 2012 as a WGSS Postdoctoral Fellow just after finishing up my degree in American studies at the University of Michigan. I love teaching UH students who come from a range of backgrounds, and challenging them to hear each other, become critical thinkers, and be willing to sit in a place of discomfort to learn about the world around them. 

My personal and scholarly interests in race and mixed race identities have led me to research in the Caribbean.  I write about the lives of young Dominican women in Santo Domingo, where the population is said to be 80% racially mixed, of European, African and indigenous descent. I examine Dominican popular culture and identity in the contemporary moment, from film and magazine representations of mixed race bodies to the ways that Dominican youth use visual culture on Facebook, and in theater, to resist stereotypes about who they are and produce complex transnational identities.

At UH, I’ve taught Intro to Women’s Studies, the inaugural Introduction to Global Studies course in Comparative Cultural Studies (CCS), and the WGSS graduate course in feminist theory and methodology. This term, I’m teaching a Feminist Theory course and a Gender and Transnational Studies course, both for undergraduates. In the Spring I will teach a course on intersectional identity that focuses on black female adolescents in novels and films. Transnational feminisms and critical race theory in the African diaspora are my passions.

I’m happy to be part of growing the WGSS program, bringing on students, connecting with different parts of the UH community and the Houston community. Last year I collaborated with people from several different UH departments and campuses, along with community organizations, to create a colloquium on gender-based violence from South Asia to Houston. Out of that conversation many excellent connections were forged and resources on the topic are now available on the WGSS website. Additional readings and syllabi around related topics are also now available on the WGSS website (& see article below). We aim to continue to build dialogue across UH and Houston's diverse communities.


Ferguson Dialogue

Da'vonte Lyons

Co-presented by WGSS & African-American Studies

The Ferguson discussion provided a space for a much-needed gathering of students, faculty and staff to converge on ideas and concerns surrounding the summer shooting and death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn (WGSS), Dr. Marcia Walker-McWilliams & Dr. Vincent Willis (African American Studies) posed a variety of questions to those in attendance, making connections between gender studies and African American studies and the intersecting mechanisms of identity-based bias. The event opened with a student-led African-centered ceremony and explored some of the history of race and of media manipulation in America. Students spoke about their own experiences of institutional/systematic racism. Through the ideas and questions raised, the dialogue creates space for a collective awareness and response on the UH campus.

For many participants, it was understood there is a need for African Americans to reach back to the sacred principles of Sankofa and recover their cultural history and use the best of its models as a frame of reference to build toward the possibility of a better future, as we continue to struggle against unjust and inhumane circumstances such as the tragic shooting of Michael Brown.

Faculty Spotlight

Sheila Katz - Sociology

For the last several years, I was an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Sonoma State University, just north of San Francisco. My spouse and I were both hired by UH last winter, and we moved to Houston in August. I am a feminist activist scholar, a deep believer in high-quality social science research to challenge systems of oppression in society and change social policies. I am passionate about anti-poverty community-based work, through grassroots organizing.
My research interests are women's experiences in poverty post-welfare reform and during the Great Recession and access to higher education for low-income, first generation, non-traditional, and minority students — especially those who also have children. I do qualitative sociological research — through in-depth interviewing, focus groups, and ethnography — to understand women's lived everyday experiences. I am currently writing a book based on my California research, called "Reformed American Dreams: Welfare Mothers’ Experiences in Higher Education During the Great Recession."
Women's Studies has had a tremendous impact on my personal and professional life. I was a little lost in my sophomore year, unhappy in my Chemistry major but undecided about what to do next — and the next quarter I took both my first sociology and my first Women's Studies class. Instead of choosing between the two, I chose both!
Two pieces of my recent work I am really excited about:  This summer, I was an expert witness (pro bono) in the recent case Planned Parenthood, Southeast v. Luther Strange (Alabama’s Attorney General) over the recent Alabama state law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Second, in August I was the Local Arrangements Chair for the American Sociological Association's 2014 meetings in San Francisco, coordinating sessions and tours and connecting sociology research to community work.
I also work with the Institute for Women's Policy Research (in Washington, D.C.) on the Student Parent Success Initiative.  I've also presented my research on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., most recently on TANF Reauthorization.


Associate Director Updates

Dina Alsowayel

Happy to update you on several exciting projects engaging me this fall: On the curricular front, I'm continuing work with our instructors on strengthening and expanding our core courses, specifically the Intro to Women's Studies, our gateway course which reaches hundreds of students each term. This year we have nine full sections. As ever, I'll be teaching several courses on "the Arab and Muslim World" — always lively — including a course on Arab Women Bloggers and their role in the international dialogue. On the FWS front, among several ongoing projects I'm working to make our Fast Friends offerings especially exciting for our members, and to connect with funders who are looking for ways to support our programming and our students.

Guillermo de los Reyes

Welcome back to a great new year! I'm pleased to report that our minor in GLBT studies is expanding and that this semester our GLBT 2360: Introduction to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, has joined the Core. We are very happy to see that the student community has made this class one of their own in short period of time. In addition, our capstone class, which requires students to do a service learning project in our community, is also growing and giving our students the opportunity to do research while volunteering in GLBT organizations in the Greater Houston area. Stay tuned for a wave of expanded opportunities in our great WGSS program.


Upcoming Events

President Renu Khator & Dr. Ruth Simmons
NSF Advance Kickoff – 10.21.14

McGovern Lecture: Jennifer Glass 10.30.14
Salary, Family, Climate: What Keeps Women Out of STEM Fields?

Living Archives 10.31.14
School/ Work/Childcare: Time to Synchronize?

$tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop: Members 11.05.14

$tart $mart Salary Negotiation Workshop: Students

Living Archives: Women in Energy

Gaytari Chakravorty Spivak Talk

Living Archives: Transgender 101

Table Talk

21st-century Moore Conference – March 19-22, 2015

WGSS Mission

The Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program draws upon the dynamic energy of the global city of Houston, Texas, and the great diversity of the University of Houston campus. Since its founding as Women’s Studies in 1991, the program has evolved to promote an intersectional, multidisciplinary and transnational approach that critically assesses existing hierarchies, inequalities, and forms of privilege. We challenge students to understand how categories of gender, sexuality, race, class, dis/ability, and citizenship shape not only their own lives but also the lives of people in their communities and around the world. The program’s strength comes from the diversity of the perspectives it draws from, including faculty affiliates from 14 different disciplines as well as a deep engagement with communities and organizations in Houston. WGSS works closely with the Friends of Women's Studies, the Carey Shuart Women's Archive and Research Collection, and the Women's Resource Center, and students and faculty also engage across diverse communities through activism and volunteer opportunities. Students, faculty, and community members convene regularly for conferences, lectures, and workshops. Bridging research and activism, WGSS uses global feminism to encourage the diverse body of UH students to become informed and engaged citizens of a transnational world.

The Program currently offers two undergraduate minors (Women's Studies and GLBT Studies) and a graduate certificate (in Women's Studies).


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