Wilkes University to Hold 2024 Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on April 8-9

by Kelly Clisham
blue, pink and black butterfly featuring the words transgender identity and feminism

Wilkes University will collaborate with King’s College to host the annual 2024 Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on Apr. 8 and 9, on the Wilkes campus. Heather Hewett, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies and an affiliate of the Department of English at the State University of New York at New Paltz, will serve as this year’s keynote speaker.

Hewett will open the conference with her talk “Trans Rights and Women’s Rights: Feminism and the Fight for Gender Justice” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 8, in the Jean and Paul Adams Commons. Her talk will address the punitive legislation and violent attacks transgender and nonbinary people have recently faced. She will also help attendees understand how feminist and trans struggles for justice are interlinked and how society can work toward a future where liberation and justice are available to all people. The keynote address is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

Heather Hewett

On Tuesday, April 9, Wilkes University students and faculty will present their research on the second floor of the Henry Student Center. The conference is free and open to the public. Conference presentations begin at 9:30 a.m. with the final session concluding at 7:30 p.m.

The theme of this year’s conference is transgender identity and feminism. 

Keynote speaker | 7 p.m. Monday, April 8 | Jean and Paul Adams Commons

Hewett is a professor and a feminist literary and cultural scholar who focuses on the 20th and 21st centuries. She co-edited the volume #MeToo and Literary Studies: Reading, Writing, and Teaching about Sexual Violence and Rape Culture (2021). Her opinion pieces, personal essays and reviews have appeared in publications such as Boston Review, Inside Higher Ed, LIBER: A Feminist Review and The Washington Post.

Since fall 2022, Hewett has been serving a two-year term as a program officer in Higher Education Initiatives at the American Council of Learned Societies. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Yale University and a doctoral degree  in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Presentations: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. | Tuesday, April 9 | Second floor of the Henry Student Center, 84 West South Street

Presentations will discuss issues such as LGBTQ activism, health equity for transgender people, representations of women in literature and film, the impact of education on gender equity, stress and coping in women and sexism in wages and sports. Highlighted presentations include:

9:30 to 10:45 a.m. | Kalen Churcher, assistant professor of communication studies, will moderate a discussion by Wilkes student Elizabeth Cherinka and chair of the NEPA Stands Up LGBTQ Committee, Alec Walker-Serrano. Cherinka will address the impacts of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and Walker-Serrano will discuss his work as a community organizer and transmasculine person.

11 a.m. to noon | Wilkes students Ava Musloski, Aster Rowland and Lindsey Kausmeyer will hold a panel discussion, moderated by Kaitlyn Langendoerfer, assistant professor of sociology/criminology, on the intersections of gender, medicine and power dynamics within the context of women’s health.

Noon to 12:45 p.m. | Wilkes students Basma Al-Salem, Sarah Arshad, Bisma Chaudhry and Eza Chaudhry will hold a panel discussion on their experiences as Muslim women moderated by Gina Morrison, professor of global cultures.

5:30 to 7:30 p.m. | Group S.O.S, a play about survivors of sexual assault by adjunct creative writing faculty member Bonnie Culver, will be presented as a staged reading. A Q&A session with Culver and the cast will be moderated by Andy Wilczak, associate professor of sociology, following the reading.

This year’s conference will be the 13th year of collaboration between Wilkes University and King’s College. The conference is organized by Jennifer Thomas, director of women’s and gender studies at Wilkes University, and Valerie Kepner, director of women’s studies at King’s College.
For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu/WGS.

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