Wilkes University Holds 2022 Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on April 4 and 5

by Web Services
Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst

Wilkes University, in collaboration with King’s College, presents the annual 2022 Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on April 4 via Zoom and on April 5 on the Wilkes campus. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, associate professor of religion and associate director of the Humanities Center at the University of Vermont.

The conference kicks off at 7 p.m. on Monday April 4 when Morgenstein Fuerst presents “Not Fit for Polite Company: Religion, Race and Gender” live via Zoom. Her talk addresses the role that challenging topics play in society. Fit for polite company or not, Morgenstein Fuerst advocates that religion, race and gender must be discussed in order to enhance society’s understanding of individual and community identities. The keynote address is free and open to the public. Attendees can register online at www.wilkes.edu/WGS to be provided with Zoom access.    

On Tuesday, April 5, a series of timely and relevant workshops, led by Wilkes University students and faculty, will be held on the second floor of the Henry Student Center, 84 W. South St., Wilkes-Barre. The conference is free and open to the public. Conference registration occurs at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5 with presentations beginning at 11 a.m. The final session concludes around 8 p.m.

The theme of this year’s two-day conference is gender, race and religion. It examines how race and gender shape religion and vice versa. Whether one considers themselves to be religious or not, religion influences how people connect with one another and develop systems of accountability. The conference also addresses systems of power and how communities and countries define justice, laws and human rights related to religious beliefs.

Keynote speaker: 7 p.m. on Monday, April 4 via Zoom
Morgenstein Fuerst is associate professor of religion and associate director Humanities Center at the University of Vermont. She earned her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in religious studies, with a specialization in Islamic studies; a master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School; and a BA from Colgate University in Religion and Asian Studies. Her research centers on Islam and Muslims in South Asia; histories of imperialism; and theories of religion, race and language. Her first book is titled Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion (I.B. Tauris 2017; paperback, Bloomsbury 2020). She is co-editor of the volume Words of Experience: Translating Islam with Carl W. Ernst (Equinox 2021). Her next books are about religion, race and politics: the first, Imperial Pandemics, is about global Islamophobia and antisemitism; the second, Religion Isn’t Done With You, focuses on how religion is a system that shapes our world.

Morgenstein Fuerst is the author of numerous articles about Islam, Islamic studies and religion in South Asia that appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Comparative Islamic Studies and The Muslim World, among others. She is also the cohost and coproducer of the grant-funded podcast Keeping It 101: A Killjoy’s Introduction to Religion. At UVM, Morgenstein Fuerst has been recognized as an award-winning teacher whose courses are about the study of religion, Islamic practice and history, race and imperialism and, occasionally, Hindu traditions.

Presentations: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, second floor of the Henry Student Center, 84 W. South St.
Supporting the conference theme, presentations explore issues such as gender-based discrimination in sports and art; the socialization of gender; the representation of women in children’s television programming; contemporary issues in women’s health care; gender equality; international women’s issues; and women, power and change. Highlighted presentations include:

  • Dr. Kristiana Feeser, visiting assistant professor of psychology, and Wilkes senior Shyanne Wydo will address the national conversation around transgender athletes from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. During the presentation, Feeser and Wydo will address the rules, science and physiology related to sport performance and competition.
  • From 1 to 2:15 p.m., Wilkes student Emilie Protsko will discuss the meaning of gender inequality, highlight the extremes of inequality and address how it impacts women throughout the world.
  • Wilkes sophomore Drew Haritos presents, “God Help the Outcasts: Examining the Impact Religious Exposure has on Gender Expectation and Sexual Identity” at 2 p.m. Haritos will address views on gender expectations and sexual identity across multiple religions and how challenging those beliefs can lead to an acceptance of queer identity.

This marks the eleventh year of collaboration between Wilkes University and King’s College. The conference is organized by Dr. Jennifer Thomas, director of women’s and gender studies at Wilkes University and Dr. Valerie Kepner, director of women’s studies at King’s College.

For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu/WGS.

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