Published September 18, 2015
“Wonder Women and Super Men” is the theme of 18th annual Gender Week, to be held Sept. 24-26.
Presented by UB’s Institute for Research and Education on Women & Gender — informally known as the Gender Institute — this year’s Gender Week activities dovetail with “Gender Bender,” the UB Humanities Institute’s second annual Humanities Festival, and an Exhibit X Fiction series talk by fiction writer and conceptual artist Shelley Jackson.
“This is a year of marvelous collaborations,” says Kari Winter, co-director of the Gender Institute and professor of transnational studies. “Christina Milletti, who organizes the Exhibit X Fiction series for the English department, collaborated with us on the timing of Shelley Jackson’s reading so that it is, indeed, an opening event, or prequel, for our symposium.”
The Gender Institute and the Humanities Institute partnered “from the initial conception of both of our major events,” Winter says, calling a talk by noted scholar and critically acclaimed author Jill Lepore “the stellar hinge between the two events: She will conclude our symposium and segue into the festival.”
Winter noted the directors of the Humanities Institute — Erik Seeman, director and professor of history, and Libby Otto, executive director and associate professor of art — “are exemplars of rigorous interdisciplinary collaboration, which enhances university life in the best ways.”
The talk by Jackson, 2015-16 WBFO Visiting Professor in the Arts, opening Gender Week takes place at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.
The focus of Gender Week activities is the Gender Institute Fall Symposium, being held Sept. 25.
The symposium, which take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Student Union Theater on the North Campus, will examine “the current global fascination with super heroes,” Winter says.
“From Harry Potter to Lisbeth Salander (‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’) to endless comic-book-movie franchises, our cultural imagination is bursting with super-enlarged male and female parts, freaks, mutants, vamps, zombies and goddesses,” she explains. “Do superheroes bend, twist and challenge gender, or do they reinforce — with a vengeance — retro gender stereotypes?”
The symposium, she says, will feature speakers “from many disciplines and historical vantage points” who will analyze “the functions of ‘wonder women and super men’ in history, myth, architecture, comics, cartoons, television series, film, politics and other arenas.”
Keynoters for the symposium include Gabrielle Esperdy, associate professor of architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology, who will talk about activism, design and “really cool eyeware”; Dorota Koczanowicz, assistant professor of artistic culture, University of Wroclaw, Poland, who will discuss Polish artist Elżbieta Jabłońska and mothers as superwomen; and Nnedi Okorafor, UB associate professor of English, who will read from her new novel, “The Book of Phoenix.”
Following the symposium, the institute will hold its annual welcome reception for new and returning faculty from 6-7 p.m. in the lounge of the Student Union Theater.
Friday’s activities will conclude with the lecture by Lepore at 8 p.m. at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Lepore is serving as the feature speaker for the Buffalo Humanities Festival.
The David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University, she will talk about her best-selling book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman.”
Admission is $15 for students and $20 for all others. Purchase tickets online or at the door.
Gender Week activities on Sept. 26 include the sixth annual Break the Cycle Bike-a-thon and walk honoring victims of domestic violence — being held from 10 a.m. to noon in Isle View Park, Tonawanda — and the Buffalo Humanities Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Burchfield Penny Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.
The Humanities Festival’s complete schedule of events, including ticket information and a downloadable program, is available online.