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On April 14, two Centennial events will explore gender and race issues in a historical context. Paula J. Giddings, the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College, will give the first of two Centennial Lectures on Gender honoring the "great beginning" of Connecticut College. The second lecture in the series is scheduled for the fall of 2011. Gidding's talk, "The Work Can Never Die: Ida B. Wells, 1911 and the Quest for Immortality," is 7 p.m. in the Ernst Common Room, Blaustein Humanities Center.
Connecticut College was founded in 1911 as a women's college following a decision by Wesleyan University to stop admitting women. The College became co-educational in 1969. "Giddings charge is to bring the perspective of noted activist Ida B. Wells to bear on our founding moment as a women's college," explained Mab Segrest, Connecticut College's Fuller- Matthai Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and chair of Gender and Women's Studies. Giddings is a widely published former book editor and journalist who has written extensively on international and national issues. She is the author of three books on the social and political history of African-American women, including "When and Where I Enter: The Impact on Black Women on Race and Sex in America," "In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement," and, most recently, the critically acclaimed biography of anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, "Ida: A Sword among Lions."
"Connecticut College is very fortunate, in our Centennial year, to have Professor Giddings use her formidable research on the life of this noted activist on gender, race and human rights to explain more fully the forces at play in 1911 and reflect on the gendered challenges we face a century later," said Segrest. At 4 p.m., Giddings will participate in a panel discussion that will also help contextualize the founding year, "1911 in Transnational Perspective," with Connecticut College faculty members. Each member of the panel, including professors Amy Dooling (Chinese), Julia Kushigian (Hispanic studies), Jen Manion (history), Spencer Pack (economics) and Sufia Uddin (religious studies), will discuss the year of the College's founding from the perspective of his or her discipline and area of expertise. "In 1911, the world was on the cusp of remarkable changes, as we are today," said Segrest, who will moderate the panel. "How do we understand our present challenges, in light of our history? These are the questions we want to help frame in this event."
Both events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by Connecticut College's Department of Gender and Women's Studies, Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the Centennial Committee.