American Studies Student Groups hosts Feminism in America roundtable 

The newly restarted American Studies Student Group made their big debut with the “Feminism in America” roundtable discussion on March 24. The roundtable, the organization’s first event since regrouping, was hosted via Zoom and featured flash presentations from students and professors.

The discussion aimed to explore issues of feminism in relation to American culture. Flash presentations from three student speakers — Alex Rye, Anna Bronkhorst and Sebastian Boggs — and three professors — Chris Apap, Ph.D., Joanne Lipson-Freed, Ph.D. and Cecilia Saenz-Roby, Ph.D. — offered perspectives on issues not necessarily at the forefront of the discussion on feminism, topics not commonly discussed in the conversation.

Typically, when people think of feminism, the major milestones in the feminist movement are the first in our minds. While significant advances in feminism like the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and the election of the first female vice president, Kamala Harris, in 2020, mark major advancements, there are significant aspects of the feminist movement that tend to fly under the radar.

Topics discussed in the roundtable ranged from examining femininity in the context of race through Lucille Clifton’s poetry to early female poets, like Anne Bradstreet, breaking the barrier for women in literature to expanding the definition of feminism to include members of the Trans community.

Other presenters focused on more personal aspects of feminism in American Culture as it related to their fields or experiences at OU. One faculty presenter, Apap, discussed how a non-traditional student offered a unique perspective that changes his approach to analyzing feminism in the text “The Scarlet Letter,” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The two other faculty presenters focused on feminism in education or academia relating to their work as professors and scholars. Saenz-Roby discussed feminist advocate and writer, as well as the subject of her upcoming book, Juana Manso’s work towards women’s education in Argentina. Lipson-Freed talked about feminism in relation to her work as a professor at OU, applying the temporality of women’s work to her own lived experiences.

Emma Ross, president of the American Studies Student Group, stated the event was intended to serve as a smaller version of the group’s signature event each year, the undergraduate research conference. Because the group restarted this semester, the group was unable to coordinate such a large-scale event in a short amount of time.

Ross felt that the roundtable offered students and faculty the opportunity to spark interest and conversation around an urgent and relevant topic. Although the conference did not take place this semester, the group does plan to coordinate the event for next year.

The American Studies Student Group focuses on all things American from history to culture to politics. While the group has mostly operated within the Department of English this semester, Ross states that the organization is open to all students with an interest in American Studies.

For more information or to become a member of the American Studies Student Group, interested individuals can check out the group’s GrizzOrgs page or reach out to Ross or Tim Donahue, adviser and associate professor of English.