I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be joining the feminist community at Northeastern University and taking up the reins as Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. First, let me give a serious shout out to Linda Blum – the interim director who did a fantastic job of moving this program forward and has been an enormous help to me in this transitional period. And another shout out to Deb Kaufman whose long and dedicated tenure as Director evinces a commitment to feminist scholarship and teaching that is a model for us all. Thanks to both of you. And additional thanks to the women on the search committee that brought me here – you made the decision easy for me!
I’d also like to welcome our Visiting Scholars for the year: Leigh Gilmore, whose research centers around autobiography, memory, and trauma and Shannon Weber, a PhD candidate from UC Santa Barbara who is writing on New England women’s colleges and the construction of sexual and gendered identities. We are so pleased to have both of them with us this year and look forward to interacting with them informally and more formally through colloquia and other special events.
I come to Northeastern after 8 years at Indiana University-Bloomington, where I was Chair of the Department of Gender Studies and helped launch the first Gender Studies PhD in the country. Prior to that, I was at Georgetown University where I chaired Women’s Studies and was also a professor in the Sociology Department. So, in short, my commitments to feminist scholarship run deep and – I should add – run in a decidedly crooked and interdisciplinary direction.
I am enormously excited about the challenges ahead and eager to build WGSS into a robust program and locus for interdisciplinary, cutting-edge scholarship and teaching on gender and sexuality. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the years ahead to further institutionalize this program and make our work central to the University. As we move forward, we will be mapping out this strategy – growing the program, developing new and exciting undergraduate and graduate courses, working with other units to offer programming on relevant topics, and making sure we have a place at the table of the new Northeastern. We will strengthen our relationship with traditionally supportive departments and build new relationships across the college and the University more broadly. We will deepen our engagement with the wonderful Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies and partner with new initiatives here at Northeastern.
In the months to come, you will see changes to our website and changes that run deeper as well. So I invite you all – students and faculty alike – to get involved in the program. If you’ve not been involved in the past, take a new look and reconsider. If you’ve been involved, renew your commitments. If you think gender studies isn’t for you, think again. And please, don’t hesitate to communicate to me your thoughts on the future of this program: this is, after all, a collective endeavor!- Suzanna Danuta Walters