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Cornell Women's History Month '96: a closer look at "family values"

Societal changes are inextricably linked to changes in women's roles and status. And throughout March, Cornell University will host a series of programs that explore these linkages -- particularly in terms of what they tell us about notions of "family values," that loaded expression that has been a rallying cry of political conservatives.

"Women's History Month is about exploring the relationship of women to so many other aspects of history and politics," said Shirley Samuels, director of the Women's Studies Program, which is cosponsoring Women's History Month programs with several other Cornell units. Though broad in scope, she said, the programs share "an attempt to understand families in all their different configurations, and how the values of a nation are shaped through certain images of women and their roles."

Cybele Raver, assistant professor of human development and family studies, said the family values theme should interest many Cornellians because "a lot of people on campus, particularly those interested in women's studies and feminism, want to re-examine that term."

The events listed below are free and open to the public and are cosponsored by the Women's Studies Program and the departments and organizations listed.

  • Thursday, Feb. 27: Charlotte Patterson, associate professor of the University of Virginia, will give a lecture titled "Lesbian and Gay Families with Children: Research, Law and Policy," 7:30 p.m., Auditorium D, Goldwin Smith Hall. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies and many others. -- Wednesday, March 5: historian Elaine Abelson, chair of the Urban Studies Program at the New School for Social Research, "The Dimensions of Inequality: Homeless Women in the Great Depression," 4:30 to 6 p.m., Rockefeller Hall Room 105.S. The Becker Fund.
  • Thursday, March 6: Margaret Hunt, associate professor of history at Amherst College, "Economies of Desire: Virtual Lesbians in 18th-Century England," 4:30 to 6 p.m., Goldwin Smith Hall Room 142. Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies, Department of History and European History Colloquium.
  • Friday, March 7 -- Monday, March 10: weekend program titled "Cultural Identity: Lives and Experiences of Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Jews," with talks by Lisa Edwards, rabbi at a gay and lesbian synagogue in Los Angeles; and Tracy Moore, editor of the book Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk About Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism and Their Lives; for more information about the weekend's events, contact Cornell Hillel at (607) 255-4227 or the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender Resource Office at (607) 255-4227 or (607) 255-8123.
  • Saturday, March 8, International Women's Day: roundtable discussion, "State and Institutionalized Mass Violence Against Women: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi and Rwanda," noon to 3 p.m. in Uris Hall Room G-08. Program on Gender and Global Change.

"This roundtable is a way for us academics not only to analyze the social issues facing the women in these countries, but to express our concern and publicize their plight," said N'dri Assie-Lumumba, director of the Program on Gender and Global Change. "The point will be not to make judgments, but to articulate how policies in these countries are affecting the lives of women today and how they will affect women in the future."

Also on March 8, The Bookery in downtown Ithaca will present readings from local women, including Cornell faculty members Anne Adams, Zulma Iguina, Jane Mt. Pleasant and Helena Mar’a Viramontes, 8 p.m., The Bookery, 215 North Cayuga St. Durland Alternatives Library.

  • Monday, March 24: Susan Rubin Suleiman, professor of Romance languages and comparative literature at Harvard University, will read from her new book Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbooks and will give a lecture titled "Can You Go Home Again? Reflections on Displacement and Return," with a discussion of her experiences as a Jewish child in hiding, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Goldwin Smith Hall Room 142. Department of History and Jewish Studies Program.
  • Monday, March 31: film and panel discussion: screening of Motherland: Tales of Wonder, directed by Helen Klodawsky of the National Film Board of Canada. This film explores myths and misconceptions regarding motherhood, spanning two generations of American women and interspersing their testimonies with Klodawsky's home videos and scenes from educational films from the 1940s and '50s. Panelists include Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Tracy Mitrano, Phyllis Moen and Cybele Raver, all faculty in Cornell's Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 4 to 6 p.m., Martha Van Rensselaer Hall Amphitheater. Human Development and Family Studies.

Women's History Month winds down at the end of March, but women's studies programs do not. Thursday, April 3, the Work and Family Program will cosponsor, with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Office, a workshop for employees titled "Resources for Families with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Members: Parents, Siblings, Children," 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., 20 Thornwood Drive in Ithaca.

Saturday, April 12: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies will cosponsor a conference, "Queer Academics at Work in Public Policy: What's All This About Family Values?" featuring John D. E'Milio, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and Nan Hunter of Brooklyn Law School, 1 to 4 p.m., Uris Hall Room G-08.

And on Monday, April 21, the director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Martha Farnsworth Riche, will give a lecture titled "What Demographic Data Tell Us About the American Family -- Its Present and Future," 4:30 to 6 p.m., Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium of Goldwin Smith Hall.

Cornell's Women's Studies Program was founded in 1969 and is one of the first such programs at a major U.S. university. It includes the Program on Gender and Global Change and the Field of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies.

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