Summary report,1974

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SUMMARY REPORT: THE SCHOLAR AND THE FENINIST

On May 11, 1974, 350 scholars and feminists gathered at Barnard College for an all—day examination of the impact of feminism on scholarship. The aca~ demic conference, sponsored by the Women's Center and supported by a grant from the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, attracted women and a few men, young and old, from the mid—west and east coast and from distant places: Cali- fornia, Texas, Arizona, and Florida. Planning for the conference began during the summer of 1973, and from its earliest conception, the aim of The Scholar and the Feminist was to organize the day so that those who attended could be active participants in the discussion of the influence that feminism has had on research, on academic disciplines and institutions, and on our understanding of women.

In the morning, three concurrent panels of four women scholars from outside Barnard presented papers on the impact of feminism on their own work and on their fields within the framework of their various disciplines. As a group the papers, some autobiographical and some theoretical, represent a range and diversity of the feminist thinking of academic women. The attached out4 line indicates each panelist and her topic presentation.

Following the panel presentations, lively discussions were guided by three Barnard College moderators; Annette Baxter, Catharine Stimpson, and Suzanne I\:'C:'.-up l (5: ,

Scholarship and Feminism: Conflict, Compromise, Creativity was the overall theme for the thi‘teen small afternoon workshops. Twenty—six faculty women, many iron Barnard, led the discussions which were focused on specific topics such as War and Peace; Four Generations of Feminists; What Eefits a Woman? and Feminism: Catalyst for Creative Energy.” (See enclosed program for com» plete listing.) The small workshops provided an atmosphere for serious con- sideration of the underlying issues in feminism and scholarship: the raising of new questions for research, the reexamination of old data, and rigorous reinterpretation of existing theoretical assumptions.

Publication possibilities for the morning papers are being explored with several publishing companies, since an earlier arrangement for publication with the journal fem€ni§t_§tudies did not materialize.

Feedback to the Women's Center has indicated that the exchange of ideas and information was highly successful, and the participants have said that the conference produced new resources, new questions about feminism and areas of study and teaching, and encouragement to do research and writing. Partici- pants’ comments and letters have expressed enthusiasm and appreciation to Barnard and the Women's Center for organizing and supporting this important even. The conference provided an opportunity for women, especially those who feel that they worl; _in isolation in :-“{V‘1‘L1]'<1< women‘spstudiesz profgrams across the country, to meet with other scholars struggling with personal

and academic concerns and willing to share their efforts in refreshing, meaningiul, and productive cxhanges. Ierrie Nussdorf, a psycholonist, wrote

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that the conference was “filled with the tremendous excitement of a pioneering

.endeavor ~— our giving each other a positive peer group with which to identify

and positive role models from which we are forging complete, creative, and strong human beings out of a stereotype which defined women to be losers in a world where ‘person' equaled male.” Victoria Schuck, political scientist, wrote: “It was one of the most significant events I have experienced, for the symposium offered an opportunity to women in academe to exert intellec- tual leadership in the women's movement Via our disciplines, which have been barren of epistemological and conceptual recognition of feminism."

The Executive Committee of the Women's Center has decided to hold another aca- demic conlerence next year; The 1974 conference laid the foundation for the exploration of the impact of the broad social movement of feminism on the academic community and its scholars, and the 1975 conference will examine in depth some of the ramifications of this influence. The Helena Rubinstein Foundation has renewed its grant which will make possible Bernard's second academic conference.

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