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Authors Meet Critics

Authors Meet Critics sessions are designed to bring authors of recent, cutting-edge books, deemed to be important contributions to the field of women’s studies, together with discussants chosen to provide a variety of viewpoints.

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical
Sherie M. Randolph, University of California, Santa Barbara

Session Time: Friday, November 13, 2015, 11:00a - 12:15p
Location: 102C (LCD), Wisconsin Center

Often photographed in a cowboy hat with her middle finger held defiantly in the air, Flo Kennedy (1916–2000) left a vibrant legacy as a leader of the Black Power and feminist movements. In the first biography of Kennedy, Sherie M. Randolph traces the life and influence of this bold and controversial activist who brought the lessons of Black Power to white feminism and built bridges in the struggles against racism and sexism. Randolph narrates Kennedy’s progressive upbringing, her path-breaking graduation from Columbia Law School, and her career as a media-savvy activist, showing how Kennedy rose to founding roles in organizations such as the National Black Feminist Organization and the National Organization for Women. Making use of a previously uncollected archive, Randolph demonstrates profound connections within the histories of the new left, civil rights, Black Power, and feminism, showing that Black feminism was pivotal in shaping postwar U.S. liberation movements.

Author Bio
Sherie M. Randolph is the Ella Baker Visiting Associate Professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The former Associate Director of the Women’s Research & Resource Center at Spelman College, Randolph has received several grants and fellowships for her work, most recently being awarded fellowships from Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Randolph is the author of Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical (UNCP, 2015). She is currently at work on a manuscript tentatively titled “Free them All”: African American Women Exiles in Cuba.

  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Spelman College
  • Maria Cotera, University of Michigan
  • Martha Biondi, Northwestern University
  • Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
Moderator: Emily Thuma, University of California, Irvine

War Echoes: Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production
Ariana E. Vigil, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Session Time: Friday, November 13, 2015, 3:00p - 4:15p
Location: 102C (LCD), Wisconsin Center

This manuscript is the first of its kind in that it critically engages with U.S. Latina/o interactions with U.S. military intervention from an intersectional and transnational perspective. Vigil examines contemporary Latina/o cultural production – including memoir, short stories, plays, and novels – that take up U.S. military intervention in Central America and the Middle East from the 1970s to the present. Deploying a transnational feminist and Latina feminist perspective, she brings much needed attention to how U.S. Latina/o cultural and political workers have joined anti-imperial critiques of U.S. foreign policies with intersectional approaches to violence and militarization. Specifically, she highlights how feminist authors and texts enact critical and creative praxis and offer anti-imperial critiques while encouraging readers and activists to think beyond masculinist forms of resistance.

Author Bio
Ariana E. Vigil is an assistant professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She conducts teaching and research in contemporary Latina/o cultural production, focusing on issues of gender and sexuality, militarization, and transnationalism. Her work has appeared in meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, Latino Studies, and Revista de Literatura Mexicana Contemporánea. She is currently working a project that places Latina/o literature in conversation with media and communication studies.

  • Maritza Cárdenas, University of Arizona
  • Edén Torres, University of Minnesota
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, California State University, East Bay

Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politcs of Change
AnaLouise Keating, Texas Woman's University

Session Time: Saturday, November 14, 2015, 11:00a - 12:15p
Location: 102C (LCD), Wisconsin Center

Drawing on women-of-colors and indigenous theories, TRANSFORMATION NOW! explores the theoretical, pedagogical, and intersectional implications of positing interconnectivity as a framework for identity formation, knowledge production, coalition-building, and social change. The book includes several recurring themes: (1) the significant, potentially transformational contributions women-of-colors theorizing can make to mainstream scholarship and cultural issues; (2) the importance of enacting nonoppositional theories and tactics which learn from but do not become trapped by oppositional critique; (3) the development of context-specific relational methodologies enabling us to forge complex differential commonalities; and (4) the creation of transformational identity politics that deeply acknowledge, yet simultaneously move through, existing social categories, thus offering a vital alternative to conventional identity politics, mainstream feminist theories, and conventional critical race studies. TRANSFORMATION NOW! develops nonoppositional theories and relational methods that insist on a politics of hope yet thoroughly acknowledge the existing social disparities and systemic injustices.

Author Bio
AnaLouise Keating is Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of the Doctoral Program in Women’s Studies at Texas Woman’s University, where she teaches courses on feminist, womanist, & indigenous epistemologies; Gloria Anzaldúa; womanist spiritual activism; speculative realisms; and Women’s and Gender Studies as an academic (trans)discipline.  Her work focuses on U.S. women of color theories, multicultural literature and pedagogy, transformation studies, and Gloria Anzaldúa. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of ten books, including Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change; Teaching Transformation: Transcultural Classroom Dialogues; The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader; and this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation. She is also edits New Visions in Womanism, Feminism, & Indigeneity, a new book series at University of Illinois Press.

  • Suzanne Bost, Loyola University
  • Aime Carillo Rowe, California State University, Northridge
  • Teresa Delgadillo, Ohio State University
  • Layli Maparyan, Wellesley College



Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity
Banu Subramaniam, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Session Time: Saturday, November 14, 2015, 3:00p - 4:15p
Location: 102C (LCD), Wisconsin Center

Ghost Stories for Darwin is a wide-ranging meditation on differences and diversity in the sciences. In a stimulating interchange between feminist studies and biology, Subramaniam explores how her dissertation on flower color variation in morning glories launched her on an intellectual odyssey that engaged the feminist studies of sciences in the experimental practices of science by tracing the central and critical idea of variation in biology. Subramaniam reveals the histories of eugenics and genetics and their impact on the metaphorical understandings of difference and diversity that permeate common understandings of differences among people exist in contexts that seem distant from the so-called objective hard sciences. Journeying into interdisciplinary areas that range from the social history of plants to speculative fiction, Subramaniam uncovers key relationships between the life sciences, women's studies, evolutionary and invasive biology, and ecology, and how ideas of diversity and difference emerged and persist in each field.
Author Bio
Banu Subramaniam is associate professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Trained as a plant evolutionary biologist, she seeks to engage the feminist studies of science in the practices of experimental biology. She is coeditor of Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation and, Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties. Spanning the humanities, social, and natural sciences, she works at the intersections of biology, women’s studies, ethnic studies and postcolonial studies. Her current work focuses on the xenophobia and nativism that haunt invasive plant species, and the relationship of science and religious nationalism in India. 

  • Aimee Bahng, Dartmouth College
  • Moya Z. Bailey, Northeastern University
  • Hilary Callahan, Barnard College
  • Deboleena Roy, Emory University