Spring 2012 Women's Studies Bulletin

Click here to download and print a copy of the Spring 2012 bulletin (~2.87 MB)


In the press of our daily activities, it is difficult to step back and reflect upon our accomplishments. Yet as we start another calendar year, I wish to impress on all of you what a strong Women’s Studies program you have helped create and maintain! I remain proud and honored to be able to work with our students, faculty, and staff. Below are a few of the items on my “brag” sheet:

  • Faculty member Amanda Littauer led a panel at November’s National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) meeting that generated enthusiasm for a national effort to review introductory women’s studies courses.
  • Diana Swanson is an internationally-known expert on Virginia Woolf.
  • Student Katie Seelinger is our first contract major in gender and science—one of a handful nationally!
  • Faculty associate Lesley Rigg has brought energy and enthusiasm to her work as an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
  • NIU is part of a small group of universities that have been awarded prestigious NSF ADVANCE Catalyst grants to study the climate for faculty women in academia.
  • Our newest collaboration is a teach-in every semester co-sponsored with the Center for NGO Studies and Leadership Development, allowing us to focus on an urgent current issue.
  • Rebekah Kohli is planning another rich and intellectually engaging program for Women’s History Month—this one focusing on women, wealth, and economic justice.

And I could keep going . . . . For example, I was approached at the NWSA meeting by the head of a graduate program in our field who complimented us on the quality of the students we send her. Faculty associates continue to publish articles and books that are at the forefront of their fields. Our alumnae make us proud, whether, like Kelli Lyon Johnson, they win major awards from the college or, like Diana Juarez, they take positions in community organizations where they make a vital difference to the lives of girls and women. In course evaluations, students tell us over and over that our courses transform their understandings of the world.

In other words, even though we operate in a state where universities are increasingly starved for resources, our program continues to flourish and gain national recognition. We have much to celebrate. As you go forward into another semester, pause for a moment and enjoy some pride in the important work you do.



calendarWe have a full calendar of events planned for the spring 2012 semester. On Thursday, February 9, we will host a screening and discussion of Miss Representation. This popular documentary examines images of women in the media, as well as the media’s inadequate representation of women in positions of power. Assistant Professor of Political Science Rebecca Hannagan will help lead a discussion of the issues that are brought up in the film. The screening takes place at 6:00 p.m. in Reavis Hall, Room 211. Snacks will be provided at the event.

On February 22, Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies are co-sponsoring two colloquium talks by Dr. Erica Rand, Professor of Art & Visual Culture and Women & Gender Studies at Bates College. At 1:00 p.m. in Watson Hall, Room 110, Rand will lead a seminar focusing on transgender issues in sports. Then, at 4:00 p.m. in Holmes Student Center’s Heritage Room, she will present a public lecture, “Splitting the Queerest of Hairs: Racialized Sexualities in Figure Skating Performance. Rand’s talks are sponsored by the LGBT Studies Program, Graduate Colloquium Committee, and Women’s Studies Program.

In honor of Black History Month in February, Amy Levin will lead an informal discussion of inspiring and unusual autobiographical narratives by African-American women. Levin’s talk takes place at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, in the Center for Black Studies. This event is cosponsored by the Women’s Studies Program and Center for Black Studies.

To lead into Women’s History Month, we are hosting a screening and discussion of Made In Dagenham at 7:00 p.m., on February 29. This is a thought-provoking and humorous movie about the 1968 women machinists strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England, which led to the passing of an Equal Pay Act. Dr. Sandra Dawson, NIU instructor and author of Holiday Camps in 20th Century Britain: Packaging Pleasure, will lead a discussion related to the film’s themes. The event takes place in Reavis Hall, Room 211. Snacks will be provided.

In April, we are sponsoring “The Art of Mehndi,” a workshop led by Women’s Studies graduate teaching assistant and henna artist Natalie Santiago-Bidne. Join us and learn about the history of the henna art form, and try your hand at some henna designs. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 815-753-1038 or email womenst@niu.edu to reserve your space. The workshop takes place on Tuesday, April 3, at 4:00 p.m., in Reavis Hall, Room 103.

Once again this year, we will be hosting a WOMS Honors Day Reception. Please join us and help celebrate the amazing accomplishments of Women’s Studies students and faculty. The reception will be held on Wednesday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Reavis Hall, Room 103.

Finally, on Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, the Women’s Rights Alliance and Women’s Studies Program will cosponsor two performances of Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer.” This event aims to raise awareness of domestic violence issues, as well as funds for Safe Passage. For more information about tickets for the event, email niuwra@gmail.com or call 815-753-1038.

For a complete list of events, visit our online Spring Calendar of Events.


Women's givingWomen’s History Month is in March and this year’s celebration includes a wide variety of events focusing on the theme of “women, wealth, and economic justice.” On March 1, we invite you to take part in our 7th annual “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” Sticker Day. With this event, we hope to break harmful stereotypes that cast all feminists as female, middle-class, white, or politically radical, and to open up the definitions of the word “feminist” to more complicated meanings. Stop by Reavis 103 to pick up a FREE sticker any day after February 20. Buttons are also available for $1. Proceeds from button sales benefit the Mothers Memorial Scholarship, Austin Sawicki Memorial Scholarship, and Women’s Studies Foundation funds.

At 7:00 p.m. on March 1, Women’s Studies is hosting a screening and discussion of Made in Dagenham, a thought-provoking and humorous movie about the 1968 women machinists strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England, which led to the passing of an Equal Pay Act. Dr. Sandra Dawson, NIU instructor and author of Holiday Camps in 20th Century Britain: Packaging Pleasure, will lead a discussion related to the film’s themes.

After spring break, Assistant Professor of Public Administration Alicia Schatteman will present, “Women’s Giving: Changing the Face of Philanthropy.” Schatteman’s talk will offer an overview of the influence of women philanthropists in the United States, as well as a discussion of the ways and means that women currently give and how this impacts nonprofit organizations. This event takes place at noon on Thursday, March 22, in Holmes Student Center’s Illinois Room.

Other highlighted events from the month include two talks by Dr. Susie Porter, Associate Professor of History and Director of Gender Studies at the University of Utah, organized by the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 26, Porter will present a public lecture, “Of Suffragists & Secretaries: Commercial education, women’s networks, and female empowerment in Mexico City. This presentation traces an unexpected source of modern Mexican women’s empowerment to shifts in women’s workforce participation and education, and the expansion of spaces of women’s culture. The lecture is being held in the Latino Center, Room 121. On Tuesday, March 27, Porter will offer a graduate seminar on recent trends in Mexican historiography of women and labor, in order to further our understanding of the entrance of middle-class women into the labor force in turn-of-the-century Mexico City. The seminar takes place at 10:00 a.m. in Holmes Student Center, Illinois Room. Porter’s talks are cosponsored by the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, Graduate Colloquium Committee, Department of History, and Women’s Studies Program.

Later, on March 27, we will co-host a screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary, Maquilapolis: City of Factories. Vanessa Segundo, Research and Project Specialist for NIU’s Latino Resource Center, will lead a discussion after the screening. The event takes place at 6:00 p.m. in Latino Center, Room 121, and is sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, Latino & Latin American Studies Program, and Latino Resource Center.

Occupy movement logoFinally, to close out the month, the Center for NGO Leadership and Development (NGOLD) and Women’s Studies Program are cosponsoring a teach-in on the Occupy movement. “Teach-ins are informative sessions on recent events which people may not be able to understand clearly through news sources alone. It is a chance to inform people about an issue and provide them with opportunities to take action. Thurs, teach-ins are meant to be interactive as well as informative. Participants of a teach-in are welcome to ask questions and discuss issues so that they can understand the topic clearly” (www.amnestyusa.org). Panelists for the Occupy This! Teach-In will include a faculty member from the History Department to provide an introduction to social movements in general, a member of the Occupy DeKalb movement, an economist to reflect on income inequities, and someone from political science to give a little political analysis as well as some international context in terms of the Arab spring.

For a complete list of Women’s History Month events, visit http://www.niu.edu/wstudies/history.


GlassgoldAt the close of Women’s History Month and beginning of LGBT Awareness Month in April, Women’s Studies is thrilled to be hosting Judith Glassgold, Senior Policy Advisor on Health and Domestic Social Policy for the Office of Representative Sander Levin in the U.S. House of Representatives, who will offer two colloquium presentations. On Monday, April 2, Dr. Glassgold will present a public lecture, “Coming Out Religious and LGBTQ,” that will examine new approaches in the science of sexual orientation that provide alternative views of the problem and solutions which allow mental health professionals and practitioners of faith traditions to transcend conflict. Glassgold’s lecture will be based in part on her work as Chair of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which was the focus of a June 2011 New York Times Magazine article, “Living the good lie: Should therapists help God-fearing gay people stay in the closet?” The lecture takes place at 6:00 p.m. in DuSable Hall, Room 340.

At 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, Glassgold will offer a seminar on “Activism and the Psychology of Women and Gender.” With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Supreme Court’s finding in the class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, stories about sex and sexuality-based workplace discrimination have consistently made news headlines over the past year. However, news stories rarely discuss the adverse effects of discrimination on the mental health of minority groups, let alone how social stratification interacts with these factors. During Glassgold’s seminar, participants will engage in an informal discussion of the ways that psychologists and other social scientists can apply research to empower victims of discrimination to change communities and public culture. The seminar will take place in Reavis Hall, Room 103.

Dr. Glassgold received her B.A. in Government from Harvard College and her PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. In addition to her work as a Senior Policy Advisor, Glassgold is also a visiting faculty member in the Graduate School for Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University. She is co-editor of Lesbians, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis: The Second Wave (Routledge, 2004) and Lesbians and Psychoanalysis: Revolutions in Theory and Practice (Free Press, 2000). She has also authored and co-authored over one dozen articles and essays focusing on diversity and psychological practice over the past decade. Glassgold is on the editorial board of Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, and PsycCritiques. Prior to joining Senator Levin’s staff, Glassgold maintained a licensed independent professional psychology practice in New Jersey (1991-2009). She was chair of the Presidential Task Force on the Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation for the American Psychological Association (2007-2009) and chair of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns (2001). For the New Jersey Psychological Association, she was president (2008-11), member of the Executive Board (2007-09), chair and member of the Ethics Committee (2001-06), and founding chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay Concerns (1991-96). Finally, she received a Catherine Acuff Congressional Fellowship from the American Psychological Association (2009-10). As evidenced by her many activities, Dr. Glassgold is an extremely accomplished scholar, and we hope you will join us for her presentations.


Women’s Studies has a number of new items in our library, including:

  • The Good Girl is a movie staring Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, and John C. Reilly. (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2002. DVD. 94 min.) Thank you to Amanda Cook Fesperman for donating the film to our library. 
  • We have a copy of Made In Dagenham (Sony Pictures Classics, 2011. DVD. 113 min.), and we hope you will join us for the screening and discussion of this film at 7:00 p.m. on March 1.
  • The latest issue of Feminist Formations (23.3, Fall 2011) is a special issue focusing on gender and education globally. It has several articles on gender in African secondary schools; articles on schooling in India and China; and a piece on gender in World War II narratives in US History Textbooks.
  • Activism and LGBT Psychology, co-edited by our graduate colloquium speaker Judith Glassgold, and Jack Drescher, “takes note of the influence of social factors and offers examples of how mental health professionals can use their professional skills to empower the LGBT community.”
  • In CommissionIn Commission is a local feminist zine created by a current Women’s Studies student and a Women’s Studies alum. The Women’s Studies library has copies of all of the issues, including the most recent “Community Issue,” published “not only for the feminist community, but also for the DeKalb community at large.”

For more information about our library policies and a complete list of items in our library, visit our online catalog. Faculty may check any of these items out for class use; students may use items in the Women’s Studies Program’s library.


The Women's Studies Program is accepting graduate teaching assistantship applications for the 2012-2013 academic year. Teaching assistants help with and lead discussion sections for our core courses, WOMS 230 and WOMS 235. Additionally, they may help with research and other program activities. Contingent upon satisfactory performance of duties, assistants are reappointed for a second academic year.

Working for Women’s Studies provides many benefits. Our students graduate with experience teaching in two areas, which is an asset in a tight job market. Participating in the life of an interdisciplinary program also leads students to consider their studies from multiple perspectives, broadening their insights. Finally, as a small program, we are able to provide every student with opportunities to engage in non-teaching aspects of academic work, such as committee service and curriculum development. We offer intensive training in pedagogy, with particular attention to teaching to diverse audiences and dealing with controversial subjects.

Applicants should be a graduate student in good standing, show evidence of relevant experience, display an interest and background in Women's Studies, possess strong research abilities, and demonstrate excellent English written and oral communication skills. We seek representation from a variety of disciplines and populations within the university. Ordinarily, our teaching assistants are expected to enroll in the graduate certificate in Women's Studies.

Applicants should provide a current résumé, the Graduate School's assistantship application, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a letter explaining their interest in the position. Students must file for work study funds if they have not already done so. Visit http://www.niu.edu/wstudies/GTA.shtml for an application and/or to learn more about the position. The position is open until filled, but we will begin reviewing applications on March 1, 2012.

If you have questions, stop in Reavis 103, email womenst@niu.edu, or call 815-753-1038.


We are currently accepting applications for the Mothers Memorial Scholarship and the Austin Sawicki Memorial Scholarship. The application deadline for both scholarships is February 17, 2012.

Mothers Memorial Scholarship winnerThe Mothers Memorial Scholarship Fund honors those who are or act as mothers to members of the NIU community. The scholarship is available to upper division undergraduate and graduate students at NIU whose current activities and career goals include improving the lives of women.

Sawicki Scholarship winnerThe Austin Sawicki Memorial Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to upper division undergraduate and graduate students at NIU who make major contributions to NIU Women’s Studies and/or lives of women at NIU. Males are encouraged to apply. The scholarship was established to honor the memory of former Women’s Studies graduate student and teaching assistant Austin Sawicki.

For more information about the scholarships and to download an application form, visit our online scholarships page, E-mail womenst@niu.edu or call the Women’s Studies Program at (815) 753-1038 with questions.


D. Swanson with Jane Adeny School studentsNIU Women’s Studies has begun developing a Kenyan connection. In the fall 2011 semester, about 20 WOMS students did service learning projects to help a new school for girls in a poor, rural area of Kenya. How did this come about? Last summer, Dr. Diana Swanson spent three weeks volunteering at the Jane Adeny Memorial School for girls, a high school started by two other NIU faculty: Dr. Teresa Wasonga of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations and Dr. Andrew Otieno of the Department of Technology. Dr. Swanson returned from her time at the school encouraged and enthusiastic about the work being done to give poor and orphaned girls the opportunity of an education and to provide an innovative pedagogical model to the nation. Drs. Wasonga and Otieno founded the Jane Adeny School in Nyanza, the province where they both grew up. Named after Dr. Wasonga’s mother, the school arose out of their concern about the unequal educational opportunities available to the poor compared to the wealthy. Their mission is to create a school “good enough for the richest and open to the poorest,” a phrase Dr. Wasonga borrows from pioneering American educator and advocate for public schools, Horace Mann. The school also arises out of Dr. Wasonga’s and Dr. Otieno’s awareness of the gender discrimination girls face and their desire to nurture girls’ talents, opportunities, and well-being.

Jane Adeny Memorial SchoolStudents in Dr. Trude Jacobsen’s WOMS 230 class and Dr. Sandra Dawson’s WOMS 432 class studied poverty, education, gender, and development in Kenya and then devised action projects to support the Adeny School. They also had the opportunity to speak with the Adeny School students via Skype. When an NIU student asked the Adeny School students what he could send them that would help make their lives better, the Adeny School students answered in unison “Books!” The WOMS students collected books, book bags and backpacks, and personal care products that are expensive in Kenya, and sold Kenyan coffee to raise funds to contribute to a scholarship for an Adeny student.

The Jane Adeny Memorial School opened in the spring of 2011 with twelve girls in the founding class. In a few weeks, the school will begin its second year with 50 students. If you are interested in learning more about the school, please contact Dr. Swanson (dswanson@niu.edu), Dr. Wasonga (twasonga@niu.edu), or Dr. Otieno (otieno@niu.edu).



As many of you know, Lise Schlosser has left the Women’s Studies office to take the Office Manager position in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences External Programming office. We are grateful for Lise’s nearly eight years of service to our program.

We also want to thank Barbara Burrell for her many contributions and ongoing support of our program. Burrell retired at the end of the fall semester. She joined NIU in 2000 as the Interim Director of the Public Opinion Laboratory and immediately became a Women’s Studies faculty associate. Since that time, she has served on the Women’s Studies Executive Committee and various subcommittees. She served as acting director for the program in summer 2008, while Amy Levin was on sabbatical. She has also presented various talks for our programs over the years. We will miss Barbara’s presence in the office.

We hope you will join us in wishing Lise and Barbara the best of luck as they begin new chapters in their lives!

We are pleased to welcome Jen LeBaron to the office. Jen joined Women’s Studies as our program secretary in October. She completed her B.A. in Political Science and minor in Women’s Studies from NIU in 2010. The program certainly benefits from Jen’s knowledge of and passion for Women’s Studies.


A. NaydenoffAmanda Naydenoff is our Student in the Spotlight. She completed her B.A. in History, with a minor in Women’s Studies from NIU in spring 2010. Currently, Amanda is in her second year as a M.A. student in History, and she is also pursuing a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. Naydenoff has worked as a graduate teaching assistant for the Women’s Studies Program since fall 2010. She is co-coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Graduate Student Association, and she is teaching assistant representative on the Women’s Studies Executive Committee. In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the history of gender and sexuality. Eventually, she hopes to become a professor.

Naydenoff’s current research interests focus on U.S. history of gender and sexuality in 19th and 20th centuries. She finds it particularly “fascinating to study the continuities and differences between gendered ideologies of the past and modern day concepts of gender. She also enjoys “analyzing the media’s representations of gender.” Her M.A. paper is a “a comparative project that traces the continuity of the feminization of diet culture from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century.”

Naydenoff first became interested in Women’s Studies as an undergraduate, when she took “Women in Contemporary America” (WOMS 230) during her sophomore year. She then learned about the Women’s Studies minor, and she “did not hesitate to sign up!” Since then, she has taken a variety of special topics courses as an undergraduate and graduate student. Two of her favorite classes were “The History of American Girlhood”, which she took with Professor Amanda Littauer, and “Gender and Sexuality in History,” taught by Professor Nancy Wingfield.

When asked why she would recommend that someone take Women’s Studies courses and/or activities, Naydenoff said she believes that Women’s Studies courses “really challenge students to think critically about the world around them and to respect and appreciate diversity.” She also said that Women’s Studies courses and activities, “encourage students to strive towards making a real difference on campus, in the community, and even around the world.”

As we ended our interview, Naydenoff shared a fun fact about herself. She loves animals, and her favorite gift that she received this holiday season was “an adorable six week old bunny that (she) named Walter!”


A. LittauerWe’re turning the spotlight on Amanda Littauer for this bulletin. Dr. Littauer has held a joint appointment in Women’s Studies and the Department of History since fall 2009. She received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1998. She self-designed her major, which she named “Race, Class, and Gender in Contemporary America.” She graduated with her M.A. in 1999 and Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of California-Berkley, with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality. Her dissertation is entitled “Unsanctioned Encounters: Women, Girls, and Non-marital Sexuality in the United States, 1941-1962.” During her graduate program, Littauer taught history at San Quentin State Prison in California, and she conducted oral history interviews for the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Project in Richmond, CA (http://www.rosietheriveter.org/). She wrote an article on female drink solicitors in the 1950s entitled “The B-girl Evil: Bureaucracy, Sexuality, and the Menace of Bar-room Vice in Postwar California,” which was published in the Journal of the History of Sexuality (April 2003). She also received a Javits Foundation fellowship and numerous smaller awards and grants. Since then, she has contributed several encyclopedia entries and book reviews on topics related to sexuality and gender.

Professor Littauer teaches a variety of classes at NIU, including the graduate research methods course for Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies, a course called “American Girlhoods,” and a class on Girls’ Studies. In fall 2012, she will teach a graduate course on U.S. women’s history. She also regularly teaches “U.S. History since 1865” (HIST 261), and “Women, Sex and Gender Today” (WOMS 230). She says that teaching WOMS 230 is often exciting, “since we discuss issues, problems, and ideas that affect all of us ever day. Students learn so much from one another and usually come out of the course with very different ways of interpreting their own lives.”

Littauer’s current research focuses on “gender, sexuality, and social life in the 20th century, especially the 1940s and 1950s.” She is currently revising her book manuscript entitled, “Sex Anarchy: Women, Girls, and American Sexual Culture in the Mid-20th Century,” which “argues that there were major changes in sexual values happening in the 1940s and 1950s and that sexually non-conforming women and teen girls were at the heart of those changes.” She is very pleased to have a “top university press interested” in her manuscript.

Littauer “was interested in women’s perspectives and gender analysis in high school,” prior to taking any Women’s Studies courses. She found out about Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) when she was in college, and “couldn’t get enough.” The first WGS course she took was “The Lenses of Gender,” a psychology class taught by Professor Sandra Bem. “It changed the way I saw just about everything,” says Littauer, and “there was no going back.” She hopes that the WOMS 230 course she teaches at NIU has “a similar effect on at least a few of (her) students.”
Littauer says that the best reason to take Women’s Studies courses is “to expand and transform your way of seeing yourself and the world.” She goes on to say that Women’s Studies courses “encourage critical thinking, which is a crucial set of skills in any profession, and also an understanding of power and privilege, which shape our lives in countless ways whether we like it or not. Women’s Studies also empowers students to create change—on every level from personal to global.” On a practical level, Littauer says that Women’s Studies “teaches about diversity and therefore catches the interest of potential employers.” For both undergraduate and graduate students, a Women’s Studies degree “opens up a wider range of job opportunities and shows that you can think and write in interdisciplinary ways.”

Littauer grew up mostly in the Pacific Northwest and “loves to downhill ski, fish, and hike in the mountains.” She has two daughters, ages 9 years and 5 months. Her partner, Laura, also teaches at NIU. They have been together since her first year as an undergraduate, when she took the “Lenses of Gender” class. Although she misses the ocean, she “enjoys living in the Chicago area.” We are certainly glad that she’s here!


We want to hear what you've been doing lately! Have you presented at any conferences? Do you have recent publications? Have you received any awards? Did you get a new job or a promotion? Please share your good news with us. We'd love to celebrate you at our Women’s Studies Program Honors Day Reception in April. Send your news to womenst@niu.edu or call us at 753-1038. We look forward to hearing from you!

We invite submissions for future bulletins. If you have information, please email Rebekah Kohli at rkohli@niu.edu with subject heading “Bulletin.” You may also call 753-1044.