News & Updates: NWSA History

NWSA, A History 1998 – 19th National Conference

Wednesday, May 13, 2020  
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Cover of the 1998 conference program book

19th National Conference | "Foundations for the Twenty-first Century: Scholarship, Activism, Community" | June 10-14, 1998 | Oswego State University | Oswego, New York

Program Highlights

After years of heavy involvement in the conference programming from the Constituency Groups , the late 90's was a time of a more reduced role for Constituency Groups. That being said, the number of groups was still growing, and the 1997 conference saw the meeting of NWSA's first Interest Group: the Catholic Interest Group. Though, in the 1998 conference program, it was identified in different parts as an Interest Group, Task Force, and Caucus, so it's unclear how the members of the group conceptualized their role and purpose. Here are the other groups that met at the 19th NWSA National Conference, "Foundations for the Twenty-first Century: Scholarship, Activism, Community."

    Aging and Ageism
    Community College
    Jewish Women
    Program Admin and Director
    Teacher Education
    Women's Centers
    Women of Color
    Task Forces
    Academic Discrimination
    Independent Scholars
    Women's Spirituality
    Faculty Roles and Rewards in Women's Studies
    Interest Groups
    Catholic (?)

Despite a more reduced role, a number of Constituency Groups sponsored sessions at the 1998 conference. Below are the CG-sponsored sessions from the 1998 conference and, for a few of them, their sponsored sessions from the most recent National Conference in 2019.

    Academic Discrimination Task Force
    "Academic Discrimination Experience: A Roundtable Discussion"
    Join members of the NWSA Task Force on Academic Discrimination and panelists of the session on legal approaches to fighting sex discrimination in academia to discuss experiences with academic discrimination.

    "Lessons From the Past: Fighting Sex Discrimination in Academe Through the Law"
    What have we learned over the last decade and a half about the kinds of changes women can expect by using the law to achieve equity in academe? Panelists speculate based on personal experience and the NWSA Academic Discrimination Task Force.

    Task Force on Faculty Roles and Rewards in Women's Studies
    "Open Meeting of the Task Force on Faculty Roles and Rewards in Women's Studies" Members of the Task Force, chaired by Marjorie Pryse, will meet with interested faculty and Program Administrators to discuss the particular problems of tenure and promotion for Women's Studies faculty.

    Independent Scholars' Task Force
    "The Life and Craft of the Independent Feminist Scholar"
    Members of the Independent Scholars Task Force talk about how they pursue feminist scholarship without formal institutional affiliation, incentives, or support; about how and why they became independent scholars, and about the research they are currently doing.

    Women of Color Caucus
    "Women's Studies: The Promise and the Limitations of Inclusion"
    Sponsored by the Women of Color Caucus, this panel examines the complex politics of Women's Studies as a discipline which places "women" at the center of academic study while simultaneously relegating the racial-ethnic specificities of women's lives to the margins of its own scholarship, curriculum, and program administration.

    "New Directions: The Black Womanist Voice in Ethnographic Research"
    The Insider's Voice in Caribbean Music Research Each paper focuses on the contributions of women in the African Diaspora in areas of African performance-guided research. Women of Color Caucus."

    "Sturdy Black Bridges: Honoring the Work of Beverly Guy Sheftall"
    In 1979, Beverly Guy Sheftall co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, "Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature." Since then, her work, from founding Spelman College's Women's Research and Resource Center and serving as the president of NWSA (to name just a few), and her words, from "Words of Fire" to "Gender Talk," have helped to transform and build out the field of black feminist theory. This roundtable will both explore her work and examine the ways in which black women’s studies has been shaped by her contributions to and love for the field.

    Women's Centers Caucus
    "The NWSA Women's Center Caucus"
    This panel describes the NWSA Women's Center Caucus, highlights events and activities of the past year and allows those involved with women's centers to share information and accomplishments and challenges of the past year.

    "Women's Center Advisory Boards"
    This open session sponsored by the Women's Center Caucus will discuss the pluses and minuses of having Women's Center Advisory Boards. Attendees are encouraged to bring documents regarding their Advisory structures, and to discuss strategies for developing boards, invigorating state boards, and most effectively utilizing boards in times of crises.

    Disability Caucus
    "Changing Bodies: Disability, Chronic Illness, Aging, Size, and Identity"
    Sponsored by the Disability Caucus. Our bodies change in ways we are prepared for, and in other unexpected ways. This double session will ask how girls' or women's sense of identity remains unchanged or undisturbed or may even be enhanced by changes in the body that accompany acquired disabilities, chronic illness, aging, and/ or changes in adult body size."

    "Tendings: (Disabled) Bodymindspirits in Space"
    This workshop offers an artful space for engagement and resource-sharing, bringing contemporary art-based approaches to bear on sitedness, on our bodies’ interaction with the built environment, on being in space with others, on being interdependent and in caring relations. Petra Kuppers will lead disability culture exercises from the Tendings curriculum, developed with mental health system survivor Stephanie Heit and a range of other allies. Tendings are everyday collaborative practices that combine experiential anatomy, disability culture, eco-specific investigations, somatic exercises, and writing. This practice nourishes activist interdependent energies and pools resources for community building and stewardship of self and the environment.

    Lesbian Caucus
    "Who Owns the Language of Struggle: Have Lesbians and Gays Appropriated Civil Rights?" "Sponsored by the Lesbian Caucus, this roundtable addresses the charge that lesbian and gay activists have co-opted the language of the Civil Rights movement."

    "He-She: Heredities of Passing, Politics of Insistence, and Complex Solidarities Between Butch and Trans Women"
    This roundtable foregrounds the temporal and spatial passings amongst lesbians of Butch, Trans, and De-Transitioned experience. Acknowledging the rarity of such dialogue, and the oft-shorthanded summation of fraught herstories and women’s spaces, this conversation centers shared embodiments, and insists upon investment in both mutuality and differentiation. With pedagogical roots in oral history, black lesbian feminist thought, and the working politics of dyke communities, questions of connection, healing, and complexity are imagined as an act of transformative justice and world-making.


    List of 1998 program committee members

    See the full program here

    From the NWSA President

    Dear Conference Participants-

    As I write this I am looking out at budding trees and daffodils, the heralds of warmer weather, and Oswego's most pleasant seasons, late Spring and Summer. In a short time you will actually be here participating in the 1998 NWSA Conference. I wish you a wonderful experience in your several days here at Oswego State.

    When I accepted the challenge to become President of NWSA for the academic year 1997-98, the conference was scheduled to be in another part of the country. That we ended up having it here has had both good and bad aspects to it. The bad, of course, is that in addition to the job of being President, I have had a large, but far from singular, role in both planning and delivering the conference. The good parts are more numerous, and have to do with the wonderful women and men with whom I have been privileged to work, leading up to this conference. You will find their names listed in this Program.

    This program book offers you information about the conference to be sure, but that is not all. You can also find considerable information about National Women's Studies Association and how it governs itself. This past year we have been looking at the Constitution with an eye for change that makes governance run more smoothly. Please read the Constitution contained in this volume, you will be able to see the old and the suggested revisions simultaneously. They will be discussed at meetings designated for that purpose and noted within the daily program listings.

    I have been a member of the Oswego campus community since 1965, serving as both faculty and administrator. It is a terrific place to work and live, and I am proud to welcome you on behalf of the campus community as well as on behalf of NWSA itself. It truly is my pleasure to say welcome to each of you, please enjoy yourselves as you partake of the conference sessions, and especially enjoy the setting we are privileged to occupy on the shores of Lake Ontario.

    Barbara W. Gerber, President 1997-98

    NWSA Governance

    Below are the 1998 NWSA governance members, as well as the NWSA staff team. You can see the current Governing Council members, conference co-chairs, and staff members here.

    1998 NWSA Governance Members 1998 NWSA Governance Members

    See the rest of the history project here

    Have any pictures, stories, or fun facts from past conferences? Let us know! Email us at

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    NWSA Program Archives

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    About the Writer

    Victoria Agunod is the office assistant at the National Women's Studies Association, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program at DePaul University. Victoria received their BA and MA in Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul. They first attended NWSA in 2018 and presented their research on university students organizing for racial justice against the new alt-right galvanized by the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They joined the NWSA team the following year. Their teaching emphases are on women of color feminisms, racial justice movements and organizing, and neoliberal rhetorical and cultural influences.

    Please note: The information compiled in this project comes from the archived conference programs at the University of Maryland, College Park.