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Gender Matters offers feminist approaches discussions on intersectional, transnational, and community issues. Guests include UB students, faculty, and staff, as well as greater Buffalo community members, whose perspectives enrich our collective feminist engagement with education, research, and lived realities.

Archived Episodes:

Gender Jargon Episode 2-Grammar, Gender and Culture: A Conversation with Jürgen Bohnemeyer

Gender Jargon Episode 2
April 5, 2021
Produced by Sydney Jameson-Blowers

In this episode of our special series on language and gender, linguistics MA student Sydney Jameson-Blowers and guest Dr. Jürgen Bohnemeyer discuss how gender in the grammar of a language and the social and culturally expressed gender of a society are related.

Bohnemeyer earned (a Masters in Linguistics from Bielefeld University in Germany in 1992 and) a PhD from Tilburg University in the Netherlands in 1998. He then joined the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, first as a postdoc and from 1999 as a senior research fellow. He came to UB as an Assistant Professor in 2003, received tenure in 2008, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2018. He is working on a book that looks at the typology of functional expressions such as gender from an evolutionary perspective.

Gender Jargon Episode 1-The Chicken and the Egg: A Conversation with Jamison Wezelis

Gender Jargon Episode 1
March 11, 2021
Produced by Sydney Jameson-Blowers

In this premiere episode of our special series on language and gender, linguistics MA student Sydney Jameson-Blowers and guest Jamison Wezelis discuss gay speech around the world, how language can be a tool to perform gender and sexuality, and the paradox of "gay speech".

Born, raised, and currently living in Rochester, NY, Jamison Wezelis is a former middle school Spanish teacher who is now a full time PhD student in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Buffalo. His research interests center around LGBTQ+ linguistics especially as they relate to sociophonetics and bilingualism. In his free time, Jamison enjoys traveling, Netflix, music, and watching/rewatching RuPaul´s Drag Race.


The Power and Art of Language with Sydney Jameson-Blowers

Episode 8
February 24, 2021
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark discusses the intersections of language and gender as well as its evolution. Guest Sydney Jameson-Blowers offers her insights based on her Gender Institute research project comparing Professor Emerita Madeleine Mathiot's 1990 linguistics research with contemporary language use. This represents the launch of Jameson-Blowers' new project on language and gender.

Guest Biography

Sydney Jameson-Blowers is a Master’s student of Linguistics at the University of Buffalo. She earned her Undergraduate degree in Spanish and Intercultural Studies from Houghton College, where she had a concentration in Linguistics and a minor in Communication. Sydney has been interested in languages for almost her whole life. She has studied Spanish since Kindergarten and added Latin, Italian, and Japanese in high school. In the future she hopes to do research in dialectology, language variation, and language revitalization. She has a special interest in the dialects of Argentine Spanish and in creoles. 

The December Letters Project with Jessica Lowell Mason and Melissa Bennett

Episode 7
December 9, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Madwomen in the Attic (MITA) founders Jessica Lowell Mason and Melissa Bennett about MITA's annual December Letters Project. The project seeks to comfort those involuntarily confined to psychiatric institutions during the winter season with letters of encouragement, art, and poetry. 

We discuss the history of MITA, current projects and activities, and how listeners can get involved. We also talk about the patriarchal roots of psychiatry and the gendering of madness. 

Guest Biographies

Jessica Lowell Mason is a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in the Global Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at the University at Buffalo. Jessica is a 2020-2021 graduate fellow with the College Consortium and the Coalition for Community Writing's Herstory Training Institute and Fellowship Program, Teaching Memoir for Justice and Peace. It is a year-long program in partnership with the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University (HISB). Jessica has taught writing courses at Buffalo State College, Carl Sandburg College, Spoon River College, and Western Illinois University. She currently teaches courses related to gender, pop culture, and media literacy at the University at Buffalo. A writer, educator, and performer, Jessica has worked for Shakespeare in Delaware ParkUjima Theatre Co.Just Buffalo Literary Center, the Jewish Repertory Theatre, and Prometheus Books. In 2014, Jessica was awarded the Gloria Anzaldúa Rhetorician Award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Some of her poems, articles, and reviews have been published by Sinister Wisdom, Lambda Literary, Gender Focus, The Comstock Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Lavender Review, Wilde Magazine, IthacaLit, The Feminist Wire, and Praeger. Her first chapbook,  Woman in Disguise, was published by Saltfire Press in 2013. Her first full-length book of poetry, Straight Jacket, was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press. She is the co-founder of Madwomen in the Attic, a feminist mental health literacy organization in Buffalo, NY.

Melissa Bennett, M.Ed., is a mother, an athlete, a coach, and a teacher in the western New York area. She graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2007 with a degree in childhood education and earned her master’s degree in education, with a specialization in literacy, in 2010. Melissa played college softball for four years while at SUNY Geneseo. She enjoys yoga, reading, sports, and time with her daughters and family. Melissa was driven to create MITA as a result of seeing her sister/best friend suffer the effects of the mental health system in Erie County and observing the maltreatment of mental health patients by staff members, nurses, and doctors at Erie County Medical Center. She hopes that MITA will offer support to those who have suffered trauma as a result of being in the system, raise awareness about patient rights, and lessen the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Creating Queer and Feminist Community in the Palah Light Lab with Cody Mejeur and Blair Johnson

Episode 6
November 18, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark learns more about the Palah 파랗 Light Lab from two of the founding cohort members, Visiting Assistant Professor Cody Mejeur and doctoral candidate Blair Johnson (English).

The lab is a creative and critical space that fosters poetry, participation, and pedagogy through technology and equity. As a knowledge-design, new media, and poetry lab, the Palah Light Lab investigates critical questions in cultural criticism along with the networked arts and humanities. Based out of the University of Buffalo Department of Media Study, Palah Light Lab is funded by SUNY Diversity Faculty Fellowship and led by Dr. Margaret Rhee. The lab promotes feminist creativity, mentorship, and collaboration through a creative space.

Throughout the course of our conversation, we discuss how COVID-19 has impacted gaming communities, particularly those often marginalized within them, as well as the importance of maintaining queer and feminist digital communities in times of increased isolation.

Guest Biographies

Cody Mejeur is a game scholar, developer, player, and activist whose work focuses on trans, queer, and feminist studies and social justice in video games and new media. They received their PhD in English from Michigan State University with specializations in game studies, digital humanities, and college teaching. Their work uses games to theorize narrative as an embodied and playful process that constructs how we understand ourselves, our realities, and our differences. They have published on games pedagogy, gender and queerness in games, and the narrative construction of reality in journals including Feminist Media Studies and Digital Humanities Quarterly and edited collections such as Beyond the Sea: Navigating Bioshock and The Pokémon Go Phenomenon.

Their current projects include their first monograph, Queer Narrative, Queer Play: Player Experiences and Ludic Realities in Video Games, which focuses focuses on how narrative operates in games to structure inward experiences and outward realities, and further argues that storytelling can build more inclusive and socially just realities through play. They are also the project lead on Trans Folks Walking, a 3D walking simulator game that is an anthology of trans experiences developed in collaboration with local media and LGBTQ resource centers.

They work with the LGBTQ Video Game Archive on preserving and visualizing LGBTQ representation in video games. They are also editor at One Shot: A Journal of Critical Games & Play and serve as Diversity Officer for the Digital Games Research Association.

Blair Johnson is a poet and PhD candidate in English at the University at Buffalo, with a focus on media & visual studies, materiality, and technology. Her poems have appeared in Boston ReviewDIAGRAM, and Best American Experimental Writing. With her partner, she makes handmade books & code poems. She currently works in the lab on a number of projects, including writing for the lab blog and organizing local events.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Conversation with Judith Olin and Linda Dynel

Episode 5
October 21, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special Production Assistance from Omar Brown, Office of Media Services, UB Libraries
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Judith Olin, supervisor of the UB School of Law's Family Violence Women's Rights Clinic and domestic violence survivor Linda Dynal about the importance of domestic violence awareness during the month of October. 

We discuss ways to support survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, the effects of COVID-19 on instances of domestic violence, and the work left to do. 

Please note that while the host and guests sometimes use she/her pronouns for survivors and he/him pronouns for perpetrators, we recognize that people of all genders can experience intimate partner violence as well as inflict it on others. 

Guest Biographies

Linda Dynel is the author of the memoir Leaving Dorian. Since its publication in 2014, Leaving Dorian has been widely read by DV help center coordinators and directors as well as by victim and survivor groups. It’s also used as a textbook in graduate and undergraduate Criminology, Social Work, Sociology and Psychology courses as well as with the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy.

Linda spends much of her time presenting and taking part in workshops and lectures on domestic violence to agencies and groups in the community, such as UB School of Law, the UB Family Violence Women’s Rights Clinic and the NYS Unified Court System. She’s also a regular guest speaker for the Erie County Domestic Violence High Risk Team.

Linda is also the honored recipient of The Zonta Club of Niagara Falls, NY, 2016 Woman of Distinction Award and The YWCA of Niagara 2016 Entrepreneur Award.

Judith Olin has been a licensed attorney since 1986.  She has served as the Director of the Family Violence Women’s Rights Clinic at the University at Buffalo School of Law since 2016.  In that Clinic, she supervised second and third year law students who, under at special Student Practice Order, represent survivors of domestic violence in family law cases. Previously, Professor Olin worked as a domestic violence and sexual assault crimes prosecutor at the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, and as a Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. where she represented survivors of domestic violence in family law cases. As Director of the Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center, Professor Olin led a multidisciplinary team that coordinated child abuse investigations for Erie County. Professor Olin chairs the Domestic Violence Committee of the Women’s Bar Association of Western New York and serves on The Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence and the local Rape Crisis Advisory Board.

Dignity for the Dying: A Conversation with Drs. Christopher Kerr and Carine Mardorossian

Episode 4
February 26, 2020 (Recorded February 12, 2020)
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special Production Assistance from Omar Brown and Chris Cheung, 
Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Drs. Christopher Kerr (MD, PhD) and Carine Mardorossian (PhD) about their new collaborative book, Death is but a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life's End (New York: Penguin Random House, 2020). This book brings together medicine and the humanities to discover the meaning and role of visions and dreams at the end of life. These experiences are common for people in Kerr's hospice care who often resolve their life stories and bring their narrative arc to a peaceful close before death.

The book follows several people who describe various dreams or visions. Kerr and Mardorossian artfully weave their stories together in order to advance their central argument: people in the midst of the dying process deserve dignity that that current medical care approaches may not offer. Our conversation covers the genesis of Kerr's research, what brought Mardorossian and Kerr together, and restoring death to its place as an integral part of life. 

We also discuss the early success of the book and future directions for the research and medical humanities. Kerr's research has been widely acclaimed and featured in The New York TimesThe Huffington PostWIVB Local News, and the Grief Dreams PodcastDeath is but a Dream was recently featured in The Washington Post and Publisher's Weekly. Kerr also delivered a TEDx Buffalo talk on the subject and a documentary about Kerr's research, also entitled Death is but a Dream, is in post-production. 

Black and white photo of a man with his arms folded.

Dr. Christopher Kerr of Hospice Buffalo

Guest Biographies

Dr. Christopher Kerr joined Hospice Buffalo in 1999 as the Medical Director for Hospice Buffalo’s 22-bed Inpatient Unit and served in that capacity until 2011, when he was appointed Center for Hospice and Palliative Care’s Chief Medical Officer.  Kerr was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and comes from a long line of physicians, of which he is now the fifth generation. He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Doctorate of Medicine, a PhD in Neurobiology and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. 

Kerr’s background in research has evolved from bench science towards the human experience of illness as witnessed from the bedside, specifically patient’s dreams and visions at the end of life. Kerr has overseen the integration and expansion of palliative care into local hospitals and developed one of the nation’s largest home-based palliative care programs, Home Connections, and Essential Care for Children. He has lectured and published on innovative program models that are designed to better align patient/family services to the complexity of needs inherent to advanced illness.

Image of a woman with short red and blonde hair wearing a blue scarf.

Carine Mardorossian is a professor of English at University at Buffalo

Dr. Carine Mardorossian is professor of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY where she specializes in postcolonial, Caribbean studies, feminist studies and more recently, the medical humanities. Her previous books are Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2014) and Reclaiming Difference: Caribbean women writers Rewrite Postcolonialism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005). Death is but a Dream is her first co-authored and collaborative book but not her last. She is currently completing a manuscript on Caribbean literature and the environment with one of her former graduate students turned colleague, Professor Veronica Wong.

Bringing Intersectionality to Public Policy: A Conversation with Karen King and Karolina Kulicka

Episode 3
January 29, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special production assistance from Omar Brown and Chris Cheung,
Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries.

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Dr. Karen King, Erie County Commissioner of Public Advocacy, and Karolina Kulicka, doctoral candidate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

King and Kulicka discuss their collaboration on a Women's Studies Internship between the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women and the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. The internship provides students the opportunity to develop public policy briefs related to women and gender in Erie County. We talk about the challenges of bringing theory to public policy, transitioning between public service and academia, and making positive change through policy. Our conversation also covers the skills and character traits interns develop through the internship. 

The internship is available for advanced undergraduate and Master's students through GGS 496/GGS 560 and is open to non-GGSS majors who are interested in gender and public policy. Interns will present their policy briefs to community members and local policy makers. To learn more, click here.

Image of Karen King, a blonde woman wearing a pink shirt.

Guest Biographies

Karen King is the Commissioner of Public Advocacy for Erie County and the Executive Director of the Erie County Commission the Status of Women. The Commission works to provide resources to the women and girls of Erie County, to ensure that they participate fully in matters that have an impact on their lives, and toward the elimination of all gender based discrimination as well as the promotion of women’s economic, societal and political empowerment.

Dr. King has served as an adjunct graduate faculty member in the Higher Education Student Affairs Administration Program at Buffalo State College and in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. Additionally, she has developed and taught courses and conducted numerous workshops on popular media culture, social justice advocacy, multicultural competency, privilege, gender, race and class. Dr. King’s research interests include examining the role gender, race, class, and popular culture play in informing women’s and girl’s identity development and access to opportunity.

She serves on the New York State Council for Women and Girls, the Board of the Family Justice Center, the Executive Committee of the University at Buffalo Gender Institute, The Minority, Women Business Enterprise Utilization Advisory Board Members, and the County of Erie and City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee.

Image of Karolina Kulicka.

Karolina Kulicka is an instructor in Women's Studies Internship Course, a recipient of the International Peace Scholarship, and a doctoral candidate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research focuses on gendered organizations, institutional mechanisms of sustaining inequality as well as public service institutions. Building on her joint experience in academia and public policy-making, she engages in projects that bring together feminist theory, government organizations, and civil society.

The Unpredictability of Memory: A Conversation with Artist Tricia Butski

Episode 1
October 8, 2019
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special Production Assistance from Chris Cheung and Omar Brown,
Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries.

This week, on the inaugural Gender Matters podcast, Graduate Assistant Hilary Vandenbark speaks with local artist and UB alumnus Tricia Butski (MFA, 2015). Butski's charcoal on paper works, "Errant" and "Tenuous," are on display at the Gender Institute. 

Butski is a fine artist and educator living and working in Buffalo, NY. Butski studied traditional drawing and oil painting, receiving her BFA from SUNY at Fredonia in 2013 and her MFA from the University at Buffalo in 2015. She is currently an Artist in Residence at the Buffalo Arts Studio. She also works as an adjunct professor at Erie Community College and SUNY Fredonia, where she teaches drawing, painting and digital design courses.

Butski’s work has been included in several group exhibitions, most recently in shows at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo (‘19), Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, NY (‘18), the Trimain Center in Buffalo (‘18) and the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls (‘17). Some of her most recent solo exhibitions include shows at the Nichols School Gallery in Buffalo (‘19), Revolution Gallery in Buffalo (‘18), the Roz Steiner Art Gallery in Batavia (‘17) and the Buffalo Arts Studio (‘16). Butski has also participated in public arts collaborations, working on murals on Niagara Street, Clinton Street, and Ash Street in Buffalo, NY, and on 3rd Street in Niagara Falls, NY.

Butski’s recent works have primarily been portraiture, and her exploration into the blurred lines between realistic representation of her subjects and abstractionism. To learn more about Butski and her work, please visit her website, www.triciabutskiart.com