Conference report for The Scholar and The Feminist III, 1976, page 4
took up issues within traditional academic disciplines. Suzanne Wemple, of the Barnard history department, in an interesting follow—up to Elaine Pagels' paper, raised the question of what happened to women in the medieval church. Nanette Salomon traced the origins of the perception of women as sex objects in the tradition of Western art. Ann Douglas, of the Columbia English department, explored the idea of anger as a source of, as well as a block to, creativity in the works of some well—known American women writers. Ethel Tobach and Rhoda Unger brought the perspectives of biology and genetics, and of social psychology, respectively, to bear on the issue of gender differences. Another group of seminars carried on the morning sub—theme of com- bining two disciplines or perspectives. Naomi Goldenberg presented a re- interpretation of Jungian archetypes from the point of view of a feminist and a student of religion. Joan Hazzard brought the Black feminist point of View to an examination of the tradition of Black women writers in the United States. Heidi Hartmann, a political economist, and Ellen Ross, a historian, combined their skills to investigate the origins of modern mar- riage. Similarly, Joan Peters, in comparative literature, and Mary Lef- kowitz, a classicist, compared interpretations ofThe Odyssey as a patri- archal classic. And Barbara Miller, a scholar of Oriental Studies at Bar- nard, and Agueda Pizzaro, poet and teacher of Spanish, presented an original thesis on the relation of bilingualism to sensuous expression in women's poetry. A third category of afternoon seminars, the by-now traditional com- ponent in The Scholar and The Feminist, were activist or movement—oriented. Nadia Telsey, Barnard l969, explored the question of the physical haras- ment of women, going beyond the now much—discussed area of rape to more subtle forms of abuse that women experience in everyday life. Sylvia Federici presented the controversial view of the Wages for Housework move- ment that all women, whether or not they work outside the home, should receive government compensation for housework. Barbara Ehrenreich and Elizabeth Ewen conducted a heated but fruitful discussion on the relation of feminism to socialism, and generally on the political role of women in academic life. As in previous years, the conference ended with a well—attended reception, in an atmosphere of exchange and conviviality that gave the day a satisfying sense of closure. At the reception and in the days that fol- lowed, we received enthusiastic reports on the conference from members of the Barnard faculty and students (interestingly, the number of Barnard people attending, both faculty and students, was up sharply this year from last); from the members of the Columbia University Seminar on Women and Society; and from those attending from other academic institutions and from non—academic organizations ranging from the New York Telephone Com- pany to Prime Time, a periodical for older women. One woman from the Women's Action Alliance called the conference the best she has ever at- tended, and this was not an isolated reaction.