Report on the first planning meeting, 1973

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Ttl Those of our Barnard friends interested in the 1974 academic conference

FROM Jane S. Gould

SUKECT Report on the first planning meeting IDATEZ7 June 1973


We appreciate the fact that so many of you rearranged your lives to come to our first planning meeting held on June 20th. We think it was a stimulating first meeting although difficult to sumarize. Enclosed is a report that we hope includes the important points.

we look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions. Please send them in as soon as possible so that we can summarize them in time for the next meeting which has been set for Wednesday, August 8th, at noon in the Women's Center. We will be ordering lunches again so please be sure to let us know if you are coming. If you will be away during August but are still interested in working on the conference, we would like to know

that too.

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20 June 1973

Present: Annette Baxter, Louise Bernikow, Hester Eisenstein, Elly Elliott, Jane Gould, Kathleen Graves, Tatiana Greene, Barbara Hertz, Batya Hyman, Mirra Komarovsky, Darline Levy, Cynthia Lloyd, Jean Miller, Robin Rosenthal, Sue Sacks, Beverly Spatt, Domna Stanton, Lynn Stephens, Catharine Stimpson, Suzaenne Wemple, Mary Wexford

Barbara Hertz, co—chairperson oftheWomen's Center Executive Comittee, opened the meeting with the announcement of the receipt of a $5,000 grant from the Helena Rubenstein Foundation. Although this was only a part of what we asked for, Ms. Hertz pointed out that this was a positive sign for a foundation that has not given grants in this area before, and will enable the Center to go ahead with plans for an academic conference in the spring of 1974.

As background, Annette Baxter and Suzanne Wemple described the aca- demic proposal in very general terms. The proposal outlines a three-year program that would examine some of the methodological problems of research and pedagogy in women's studies. The Women's Center would sponsor semi- annual conferences and interdisciplinary seminars for scholars and teachers engaged in women's studies. Questions of definition, control, and recovery of sources, the uses and abuses of the concept of sexism in scholarship, and the way in which scholarly data are traditionally organized and used would be looked at from a number of disciplines and points of view. Discussions and papers from the conferences and seminars would be taped, edited, and published by the Center. The program is designed to encourage the appli- cation of new research methods, to further interdisciplinary scholarship, and to provide access to the type of sophisticated training normally acquired through Ph.D. programs“but presently unavailable in women's studies.

with limited funds, the Executive Comittee of theWomen's Center has decided to start off with a single academic conference which, in addition to being important in its own right, should put the Center into an even better position than it is now to attract further outside funding for the larger three-year program. This meeting was called for interested members of the Barnard academic community to discuss plans for such a conference.

Since this was the first time the group had met together, discussion covered a wide range of subjects and, at least initially, resulted in as wide a range of points of view over the kind of conference that Barnard should have. There was general enthusiasm about having an academic conference at Barnard and the major part of the meeting centered on the substantive content and scope of the conference. It was agreed that the conference would not deal with course structure, teaching methods, or techniques of

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research, but rather with the theoretics and problematics of the disciplines and of interdisciplinary work in women's studies.

The original concept of a conference on methodology was broadened as it became clear that there were semantic difficulties, and that the concept of methodology is understood differently in different fields. Among ideas suggested for conference focus were the following: A consideration of the underlying intellectual hypotheses of women's studies. What are the ques- tions that women's studies as a new interdisciplinary field is peculiarly qualified to ask or to answer? What will be the impact of women's studies on specific disciplines? What changes have taken place as a result of women's studies? What are the new assumptions? What have we learned about women? Where do we go from here?

Some consideration was given to the size, length, and format of

the conference. The format that seemed to find most general approval was

a series of morning and afternoon panel/workshops in which individual or joint papers would be presented by a speaker and one or two commentators. These papers would be distributed well in advance to conference registrants to ensure full participation and productive discussions. Although there

was no resolution on the size or length of the conference or on the question of how participants would be selected, there seemed to be a general consensus that we would not be able to accommodate more than about three hundred and that in order to avoid the complications of housing, the conference should probably be limited to one day.

The group agreed to send in individual comments after further thought. These individual reports will be summarized by the Center and presented at

.the next meeting, scheduled for August 8th. We hope that the group will be

able to come to some decisions on content and format at this meeting as well as to appoint a working subcommittee to work on the plans for the conference. -