Contemporary Issues

Contemporary Issues

Do Women Know Everything?


A perfect fit for women’s history month (March), this talk looks at women’s representation (or lack thereof) in the media, in fields including politics and sports. The talk grows out of Weekes’ research for her book Women Know Everything!: 3241 Quips, Quotes, and Brilliant Remarks, a collection of quotations by women from around the world—from India’s Mother Theresa to Britain’s Victoria Beckham, Kenya’s Wangari Maathai to the U.S.’s Ellen DeGeneres. She will discuss the genesis and necessity of her book given the lack of positive, non-stereotypical media representations of women. She will also provide additional background information on some of the inspiring, groundbreaking women featured.
Dr. Karen Weekes

Drop that Quilt and Get Naked: Women and the Fine Arts
Despite the success of textile-art exhibits in art galleries and museums, there is still some resistance to considering textile media as serious art. An examination of published responses to the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit that has toured the U.S. reveals both approbation and denigration of these works and their artistry. The way textile arts are displayed in museums can also contribute to their being seen as literally an underpinning of male-dominated arts, reinforcing their inferior status. Not only do displays of this type promote the distinction between art and craft, they also make clear that only certain types of “craft” are able to transcend into the heady world of “art.” Groups such as The Guerilla Girls are agitating for more change and education about women’s contributions to the worlds of art.
Dr. Karen Weekes


Mindfulness & Beyond: Buddhism & Health in Global and Historical Perspective

The past few decades have seen the emergence of the “Mindfulness Revolution” in mainstream American popular culture. Hospitals, prisons, daycare centers, college campuses... mindfulness meditation is seemingly everywhere these days. In fact, since the inception of Buddhism nearly 2500 years ago, Buddhists have understood various facets of their tradition to be

sources of health and healing. But how established are the links between meditation and physical health? Dr. Salguero will give an overview of the history, contemporary practice, and scientifically-demonstrated effects of meditation practice. He will situate the contemporary focus on the health benefits of meditation within the global history of Buddhism and medicine, and will outline the many rich and complex Buddhist approaches to healing that have been (and still are) used globally, and will suggest directions for
further historical and clinical research beyond meditation. 

Dr. C. Pierce Salguero


Political Activism, African American Women, and Religion
In historical and narrative works, the sociopolitical activism of African American women has often been linked to religiosity as a resource providing both inspiration and organizational skills. Very little empirical evidence exists, however, to corroborate these finds. Utilizing recent survey data collected from African American women residing in the Philadelphia area, this program examines the ways in which various dimensions of religiosity intersect with their communal and political activities. Presentations can be modified to cover such issues as (1) the “spillover effect” theory (i.e. the popular assumption that Black women acquire certain church-based skills that are subsequently transferred to the political arena; (2) differences and similarities in traditional Black vs. White denominations relative to Black women’s political activism of the Black church and its influence of African American women’s political behavior.
Dr. Valeria G. Harvell

Poor Chic: Poverty Fads, Fashions, and Media in Popular Culture
Come explore an array of fads, fashions, and media in popular consumer culture that make stylish or recreational and often expensive ‘fun’ of “Ghetto,” “White Trash,” “Blue-collar,” and “Redneck.” Dr. Halnon looks closely at what makes it cool to adopt the look and language of poor Blacks, why the media makes a spectacle of celebrities such as Britney Spears, and what is so attractive about Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy comedy. She explains that the Poor Chic phenomenon—that includes stylized “ghetto” lifestyle, ridicule of “white trash,” and redneck/blue-collar comedy—is a historically specific and ideological strategy that places African Americans in the ghetto, Whites in the suburbs, poor Whites at the very bottom, and “White Guys” in the red, white, and blue center. Find out how Poor Chic restores order and uncertainty and redresses problems such as changing gender roles, the flattening of the classes, the increasing scope and severity of poverty, and the reality of poverty in a consumer society.
Dr. Karen Bettez Halnon

Understanding Women's Sexuality Through the Years
Phases in life such as marriage, motherhood, and menopause affect the way women show their sexuality and their sexual encounters, desire, and desirability.  As women progress through the years and experience (or fail to experience) these emotional and physical transformations, the way they feel about their sexuality changes as well. The purpose of this research is to show how different life transitions function as turning points or influences in women’s sexuality. This research is based on in-depth, face-to-face, individual interviews with 95 women diverse in age, marital status, parental status, race, and social class.
Dr. Beth Montemurro

Using Lessons from the Past to Understand a Post-9/11 World
Rebuilding lives and restructuring our senses of meaning have been major concerns for many Americans since the September 11 attacks on our country. In an attempt to understand the ways in which survivors of previous horrific experiences have restructured their shattered lives and sensibilities, the Transcending Trauma Project at the Council for Relationships has been conducting interviews with more than three hundred Holocaust survivors, their spouses, children, and grandchildren to try to understand the methods by which individuals cope, adapt, and recreate their lives after experiencing traumatic events. The lessons learned can be both useful and inspiring as we face the on-going turbulence in contemporary society.
Dr. Hannah Kliger

Wrestling with Contemporary Issues
Join a philosophy professor in examining the difficult dilemmas presented by contemporary society and its rapid advancements in medical and scientific technology. Consider the impact controversial issues—such as cloning, privacy rights, euthanasia, neuroethics, and reproductive options—might have on your own life and relationships and on the future of society in general.
Dr. Gary Calore