Scholar and Feminist III conference report, 1976, page 2

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          identified with their original discipline, although some are making forays
into other fields, and others have made an attempt to cooperate with other
feminist scholars in order to combine skills. Thus, while some feminist
scholarship has the impulse to be inter— or trans—disciplinary, examples
of such efforts are—~with some exceptions—-still in the embryonic stages.

In the second place, it had been our intention to find a speaker
who would answer the question, what lies behind the ”trans—disciplinary"
impulse that many feminist scholars feel? As we talked about this, we
began to realize that we were perhaps taking a falsely naive position.
The question, once posed, began to answer itself.

Although they may have vastly differing orientations, feminist
scholars are united by a concern for and an identification with women,
their point of view, their experience, their condition (past and present),
and their relation to the social structure. Thus the world of feminist
scholarship is automatically inter-disciplinary in scope, because it is
problem—centered. Bringing many disciplines to bear on a single issue or
problem is a common trend in the academic world. But what on the surface
may appear to be a kinship with a general tendency in academic or intel-
lectual life is at a deeper level something distinctive.

As feminists, we agree that the present and past position of women
in society and culture has neither been ordained by a higher power, nor
determined by the “natural order" of things. As we pursue our research,
we are thus led at some point to search for origins. What does the pres-
ent unsatisfactory position of women stem from? How far back does it go?
In what structures-—psychological, social, economic, political, biological—-
does it have its basis?

Behind the "inter—” or "trans—disciplinary” impulse, then, is the
problem of origins. The theme of this year's conference thus became The
Scholar and The Feminist III: The Search for Origins. As we began pub-
licizing the conference, it soon was evident that we had picked a central,
even a burning question to examine. The favorable reaction to this year's
conference was apparent from the moment the pre—registration forms were
mailed out. One week after registrations opened, the Women's Center had
received 100 reservations. They continued to come in at the rate of 15 to
20 a day, and it soon appeared that our intended capacity of 250 partici-
pants would have to be revised upward. The decision was made to move the
morning session from Lehman Auditorium to the gymnasium, in order to make
room for the larger number of participants. We calculated that the pos-
sible sacrifice in intimacy would be compensated for by the enthusiasm and
good will of the people who could be accommodated in this way.

For this year's conference, we used the very successful format of
last year, with two major morning speakers, a lunch break, and then a series
of afternoon seminars. The larger size of the conference-—we closed regis-
trations at 470--dictated larger seminars, in some cases, but none was over
40 in size, and this proved a workable number for discussion.