by Mattie Taormina and Regina Roberts
When Patti Hanlon-Baker, Associate Director for Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, asked if SUL might like to participate in the Ninth Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, Chris Bourg, Mattie Taormina, and Regina Roberts gladly welcomed the invitation. With 425 conference attendees coming to Stanford to hear papers on global feminist rhetoric and keynote speakers such as Dorothy Allison, Lynda Barry, and Lisa Ede, we saw this as a great opportunity to reinforce, once again, the idea of integrating library resources into the research process and conversation.
We offered to host one of the keynote speaker’s presentations in the library and create an exhibit of selected Special Collections materials focused on feminism that would run before and concurrent with the presentation.
Chris Bourg, AUL for Public Service, speaking at the Feminisms & Rhetorics event in Green Library.
On September 26th, Chris Bourg welcomed “FemRhet” attendees to Green Library’s Bing Wing Rotunda before Lisa Ede, professor of English at Oregon State University, delivered her keynote address. With the rotunda full of people, Ede offered encouragement for new faculty and made key points about the value and the importance of the feminist perspective in the academy. Ede touched upon the challenges of reinforcing the teaching but also reinforced the idea of continued collaboration amongst feminist scholars. Ede has a rich history of collaboration with Stanford’s own, Andrea Lunsford on various writing projects. This particular event highlighted the positive outcomes that creative collaboration fosters.
Lisa Ede, professor of English at Oregon State University, delivering her keynote address.
The exhibit, curated by Mattie Taormina and Regina Roberts in Special Collections and University Archives, was an overwhelming success. Focusing on four subthemes (Health & Well Being, Raising the Bar, Activists & Social Movements, and Title IX & Athletics), attendees had the opportunity to view original primary resources from collections such as the Black Panther Party, Elizabeth Martinez, Carolyn Caddes, MALDEF, Denise Levertov, and Favianna Rodriguez to name a few. Over 70 people came into the Barchas Room that afternoon, with some coming back throughout the time period and others returning the next day to consult materials in the Field Reading Room.
The biggest hit by far was Stanford Professor Clelia Mosher’s original sex study conducted between 1892-1920. Full of handwritten responses from women about their sexual habits, modern readers continue to be unarmed by the participant's frank and unblinking responses to such intimate questions. Undergraduate Anna Ntiriwah-Asare was one such reader who came to Special Collections two years ago with an anthropology class and was so inspired by the Mosher study that she created her own sexual education survey on the sexuality and sex education experiences of her peers. Ntiriwah-Asare was on hand during our exhibit, showing portions of her work in-progress and fielding questions from conference attendees about her research process and the inspiration she derived from Special Collections.
Left to right: Farris Blount III, Regina Roberts, Anna Malaika Ntiriwah-Asare, and Jessica Anderson.
SUL's participation in the conference concluded on Saturday, September 28th when Bess Sadler and Chris Bourg delivered their paper, "Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery," which discussed the influence libraries have, through collection development decisions, over the diversity (or lack thereof) of scholarship. The paper examined some of the cultural biases inherent in both library classification systems and newer forms of information access like Google search algorithms, and proposed ways of recognizing bias and applying feminist principles in the design of information services for scholars, particularly as libraries re-invent themselves to grapple with digital collections.
We would like to thank Patti Hanlon-Baker, Conference Organizer and the Feminist Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department for inviting the Libraries to participate in the conference. We are grateful to Anna Ntiriwah-Asare for being willing to share her work and for answering conference attendee’s questions about how she connected her research to the library and archival material. We appreciate the assistance that Sonia Lee and Kelly Fields provided in event planning and graphic design for publicity. Last but not least, special thanks goes out to the Assistant University Librarian for Public Service Chris Bourg and the University Librarian Michael Keller for their enthusiastic support.