On Friday, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Gender Studies Symposium at Lewis & Clark College with the rest of Prof. Alison Tracy Hale’s gender studies thesis class, and man was it fun.
I must admit, when Alison first told us about this conference and broached the topic of making a class field trip out of it, the most appealing-sounding thing about it was the chance to get off campus and go on a road trip. I’m a huge fan of road trips, whether I’m by myself or with other people; and if you’re like me, enduring week after week of a long semester can sometimes culminate in a case of cabin fever. (Or I guess, campus fever.) I love UPS but I get these cravings to hop in a car and go somewhere new, and going to Lewis & Clark seemed like a decent opportunity to do so in the middle of the semester… even if it did have the downsides of preparing a presentation about my thesis paper, and attending a thesis workshop with a bunch of strangers. (Those parts sounded a whole lot less appealing.)
But when I got there, the entire experience was so fun and laid-back, I had way more fun than I’d anticipated. By the end of the day I was bummed that I’d only had such a short window to visit the conference. We got to get some vitamin D in the Portland sunshine, hang out Lewis & Clark’s campus (which is almost as pretty as ours), attend some really fun gender-related panels, and meet awesome gender studies students from Lewis & Clark and Willamette and workshop their thesis projects.
I stopped in on a panel about masculinity in rural communities, and another about intersections of gender and disability issues, both of which were fascinating and had some amazing speakers. But my favorite part of the conference was our thesis workshop with the students from other universities. While most of us in the workshop were from UPS, the other students we did meet were really great to work with. They had really useful and thoughtful feedback on everybody’s projects, and had amazing thesis topics themselves. One of the girls in my group was studying media rhetoric surrounding Justin Bieber, and another was analyzing drag culture in Salem. (My topic seems so boring after hearing about theirs, I’ll have to find a way to spice it up… Maybe if I had more primary sources with drag queens. Drag queens are awesome.)
I just love whenever I have the opportunity to hang out with people who are just as interested in gender studies as I am. Or even getting to hear them speak at a panel for a few minutes. Gender studies is such an amazing and multi-faceted academic playground, it’s hard to get tired of talking about it. Sadly, by the mid-afternoon I had to speed back to campus to be in a choir concert, instead of hanging around and attending more panels, but I’m hoping I can go back next year and maybe present on my thesis once it’s finished.
In conclusion, Lewis & Clark Gender Studies Symposium: 10/10, would recommend. You should go. Or, if you haven’t taken any gender studies classes yet, take one. If you get the chance to have any conversations like the ones I had at Lewis & Clark on Friday, I guarantee it will be worth it.