In celebration of Women's History Month this March and International Women's Day on March 8, Mount Holyoke College will present four of the nation's "founding mothers" of feminism, including Gloria Steinem, in dialogue with the Mount Holyoke community. Gathered on March 8 at Mount Holyoke will be four of the five co-editors of The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, the first major volume to examine the history of American women through a multicultural lens.
Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, Barbara Smith (MHC '69) and Gloria Steinem will discuss "Does Feminism Have a Future with the Next Generation?" and other provocative questions that go to the heart of the U.S. women's movement. Free and open to the public, the evening starts at 7:30 PM in Chapin Auditorium and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The evening's guests offer a variety of perspectives on feminism. Gwendolyn Mink, a welfare activist, is currently professor of politics at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Marysa Navarro, professor of history at Dartmouth College, helped found both the Women's Studies and Latin America Studies program at Dartmouth. A black feminist activist, Barbara Smith, a 1969 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, is the author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom. A household name, Gloria Steinem was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993 and is currently a consulting editor for Ms. magazine, which she cofounded in 1972.
The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History (Houghton Mifflin, Feb. 1998) was published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls and addresses the lives and struggles of less visible women as part of the foundation of U.S. women's history. The Companion invites readers to ask "which women?" whenever women are referred to, and, in doing so, the landmark volume gives all women, not just middle class white women ¯so often the feminist subject¯ equal place on the stage of history. Moreover, the volume suggests that women's diversity runs to the core of our collective history and lets women who have made this history showcase their own ideas and accomplishments. The coeditors were invited by Steinem to join her in the volume and each of the four, which includes Wilma Mankiller, brought their perspectives as women of color to the project.
Mink, Navarro, Smith, and Steinem will be asked to discuss how their multiethnic collaborative team approach to the Companion addressed the conflicts of race and class that have historically existed in the feminist movement. Other questions will include how the four women think history can be used to articulate a feminist perspective and if scholarship can be seen as an activist project.