Fisher Center


Campus War Machine: Sex and Debt

In 2014-15, the Fisher Center considers the ways gender figures into the wars being waged on, by, or in the name of higher education. There is a growing discourse in the U.S. and globally on the systems of inequality that underpin the educational system. Debt bondage, the casualization of academic labor, the proliferation of rape culture, DOD funded research, the privatization of public education, the subsumption of educational practices to the dictates of market-driven technological innovations, the inability for many youth to attend school in war-torn societies, and the repression of student protests are all features of the low and high-intensity wars being waged on college campuses. At the same time, title IX sexual assault suits, organized resistance to corporate and government surveillance, progressive research in the sciences and humanities, and academic boycotts suggest that campuses are fighting back. What are the invisible ways that college campuses produce and transmit material, financial, environmental, gendered, and psychological violences? Conversely, how does the campus, as a site for radical thought, activism, and change, disrupt these violences?

SPRING 2015 Visiting Scholars

February 4

Nirmala Erevelles

Empire’s Other’s Other: Crippin’ the Political Economy of Erasure in the Academy

7:30pm, Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library

A Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Alabama, Erevelles's teaching and research interests lie in the areas of disability studies, critical race theory, transnational feminism, sociology of education, and postcolonial studies. Specifically, her research focuses on the unruly, messy, unpredictable and taboo body – a habitual outcast in educational (and social) contexts. Erevelles asks: Why do some bodies matter more than others? In raising this question “why,” the tenor of her scholarship shifts from description to explanation to highlight the implications exploitative social/economic arrangements have for making bodies matter (or not) in particular historical and material contexts. Erevelles argues that disability as a central critical analytic can have transformative potential in addressing issues as varied as inclusive schooling, critical/radical pedagogies/curricula, HIV/AIDS education, facilitated communication, school violence, multicultural education, and the sex curriculum. Her insistence on an intersectional analysis foregrounds the dialectical relationship between disability and the other constructs of difference, namely race, class, gender, and sexuality and its brutal implications for (disabled) students in U. S. public schools and (disabled) citizens in transnational contexts. Additionally, transforming her theoretical leanings to committed praxis, she deploys the lens of disability studies to urge her students to think harder, deeper, and more courageously outside the confines of normative modes of education and social theory that only seek to discipline bodies rather than empower them.

February 18

Martha Biondi

The Black Revolution on Campus: Re-envisioning Higher Education

7:30pm, Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Black students and their allies on campuses across the country organized to transform higher education in the United States. Their efforts were surprisingly successful even as they faced intense resistance.

Bio: Martha Biondi is a Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University, where she currently serves as chair of African American Studies. She is a scholar of Black radicalism and postwar social movements.

March 25

Lori Marso

Pleasures and Dangers in Feminist Film

7:30 p.m., Fisher Center, 212 Demerest

Lori Marso will engage Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex to explore the complex varieties of women’s agency and forms of resistance depicted in three films: Chantal Akerman’s 1975 Jeanne Dielman, David Fincher’s 2014 Gone Girl, and Lars von Trier’s 2013 Nymphomaniac. In these films, female agency is linked to sexuality and violence. It is depicted as stemming from a range of affects—boredom, melancholy, anxiety, anger, desire, paranoia, revenge, frustration—produced under conditions of patriarchy. In each film, emotional intensities simmer until at some point, they produce violent outbursts or ugly actions. Why should feminists take an interest in these seemingly clichéd films about women who might easily be dismissed as crazy, vengeful, and slutty? Presented on screen, these women’s stories, and spectator experience of them, do not so much veer between pleasure and danger, but rather sit at the apex of their conjunction. Read with Beauvoir, we can see that the films capture the ambiguities, intensities, and pathologies of women’s feelings and varieties of agency. The women’s ugly actions, as well as the feelings at their source and the feelings that ensue, make trouble not only for patriarchy, but also for the stories of “victim versus agent” that we feminists sometimes tell ourselves.

Lori Marso is a professor of political science at Union College. The author of numerous articles, Marso’s books include Simone de Beauvoir’s Political Thinking, (Un)Manly Citizens: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s and Germaine de Staël’s Subversive Women, and Feminist Thinkers and the Demands of Femininity.

FALL 2014 Visiting Scholars

October 8

Andrew Ross

Debt Resistance in a Creditocracy

7:30pm, Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library

In a creditocracy, everything has to be personally debt-financed, and most of are burdened with debts that can never be paid off. Our elected officials have proved unable to protect citizens from economic harms directly imposed by the creditor class. Under these circumstances, is debt resistance justified? What form should it take? Andrew Ross draws on his experiences as a debt activist to ask how popular democracy can be salvaged.

Bio: Andrew Ross is a social activist and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. A contributor to the Guardian, the New York Times, the Nation, and Al Jazeera, he is the author of many books, including Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, Nice Work if You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, Fast Boat to China--Lessons from Shanghai, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs, and The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town. His most recent book is Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal, available from OR Books.

November 5

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Difficult Miracle

7:30pm, Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library

A queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess, Alexis Pauline Gumbs has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. Alexis was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University, and she is currently on tour with her interactive oracle project “The Lorde Concordance,” a series of ritual mobilizing the life and work of Audre Lorde as a dynamic sacred text. Alexis has also published widely on Caribbean Women’s Literature with a special interest in Dionne Brand. Alexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive. She has several books in progress including a book of poems, Good Hair Gone Forever, a scholarly monograph on diaspora and the maternal, and an educational resource called the School of Our Lorde. Alexis is the founder of Brilliance Remastered, a service to help visionary underrepresented graduate students stay connected to purpose, passion, and community, co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Project, a national experiential archive amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance, and the community school Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.

November 19

Lezlie Frye

Crack Babies and the Making of Disability as Racial Damage

7:30pm, Geneva Room, Warren Hunting Smith Library

To demonstrate the precise ways in which disability becomes embedded in U.S. racial projects over the past four decades, Frye performs a close reading of popular, legal and medical accounts of “crack babies” generated in the U.S. between the mid- 1980s and 90s.

Bio: Lezlie Frye is the Predoctoral Fellow at the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is a doctoral candidate in the American Studies Program, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.

October Offerings: Strategies and Tactics for Combatting Rape Culture

October 23
7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Stern 103

Rape: A Legal Realist Perspective

Janet Halley, Royall Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Professor Halley has a Ph.D. in English Literature from UCLA and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She has taught at Tel Aviv Buckmann School of Law and in the Law Department of the American University in Cairo. She is the author of Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism (Princeton 2006), and Don’t: A Reader’s Guide to the Military’s Anti-Gay Policy (Duke 1999). With Wendy Brown, she coedited Left Legalism/Left Critique (Duke 2002), and with Andrew Parker she coedited After Sex? New Writing Since Queer Theory (Duke 2011). Her current book projects are The Family/Market Distinction: A Genealogy and Critique and Rape in Armed Conflict: Assessing the Feminist Vision and its Law. She is co-director of the Trafficking Roundtable and of the Up Against Family Law Exceptionalism Conference, an international collaboration dedicated to studying the role of the family and family law in colonization, decolonization and contemporary globalization. She was recently awarded the Career Achievement Award for Law and the Humanities by the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities.

October 29
7:00 – 9:00 p.m., Geneva Room

NO! The Rape Documentary

Film screening and discussion with director, Aishah Shahidah Simmons

NO! explores the international atrocity of heterosexual rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first-person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans. This award-winning, internationally-acclaimed, groundbreaking documentary features riveting stories from Black women rape survivors who defy victimization.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian filmmaker, writer, international lecturer, and activist. An incest and rape survivor, Ms. Simmons is the creator of the Ford Foundation-funded, internationally acclaimed, award-winning film NO! The Rape Documentary. Ms. Simmons teaches in the Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies programs at Temple University. An Associate Editor of the online publication The Feminist Wire, Ms. Simmons’ cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in a wide range of media outlets including The Root, Crisis, Forbes, Left of Black, In These Times, Ms. Magazine, Alternet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Essence Magazine, NPR, Pacifica Radio Network, and BET.

September Series: Strategies and Tactics for Combatting Rape Culture

Week 1

Wednesday, September 3
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Bartlett Theater

Sexual Consent and Bystander Activation
MOSAIC New York Performance and Discussion

Week 2

Monday, September 8
12:00 – 1:20 p.m., Fisher Center

“Getting Hot”: Establishing a Sexual Violence Hotline at HWS
With Fisher Center Woodworth Fellow Carly Petroski

Wednesday, September 10
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Fisher Center

Rape Happens Here: Consciousness-raising Session
Facilitated by Michelle Martin Baron and Maggie Werner

Week 3

Tuesday, September 16
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Fisher Center

Unpacking Bystanders: from Spectator to Activist
Movement choir facilitated by Cadence Whittier

Week 4

Tuesday, September 23
7:00 - 8:30 p.m., Geneva Room

Campus Rape Culture: drugs, class, and relationships
Lecture and discussion with Kimberly Williams, Ph.D

Sex without consent—rape—is sometimes shrugged off by friends and even by survivors themselves as something that was deserved for making bad decisions for alcohol. There is self-blame. There is the shame and blame of friends—“what were you thinking?!” We may think, even though we don’t want to admit it, that some people deserve it, that they even asked for it. The "drunken hook up" is discussed as almost comical. And rape too often is mentioned in the same breath as the "walk of shame." How have we gotten to this point? What can we do about it?

The author of numerous books and articles on gender, health, drugs, and relationships Kimberly Williams is an educational consultant who has taught at Cornell, Dartmouth, Syracuse, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Wednesday, September 24
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Fisher Center

Campus Mapping: Visualizing Power, Space, and Control
Facilitated by Jessica Hayes-Conroy

Week 5

Tuesday, September 30
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Fisher Center

Dismantling the Machine: Institutions and Activism
Facilitated discussion with HWS students and faculty: Tallie Ben Daniel, Lucia Cardone, Aly McKnight, Paul Passavant, Maggie Werner, Chris Woodworth, and others.


The Fisher Center brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society.

Building upon their long-held commitment to interdisciplinary liberal arts education for men and women, both separately and together, Hobart and William Smith Colleges established (in 1998) the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men to support curricular, programmatic, and scholarly projects which address the question:

How do we more nearly realize, through our educational program, scholarship, and presence in the larger community, our democratic ideals of equity, mutual respect, and common interest in relations between men and women?