Creativity event slated for Raynor

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Although less well-known than its February cousin National Black History Month, activities for National Women's History Month — also known as March — are slated to appear on campus starting today.

The 10th Annual Women's Studies Conference, composed of plays, poetry readings and panel discussions will last through Saturday. The event is free and open to all students and the general public.

Researchers on women's studies from Marquette, the University of Illinois in Chicago, Bordeaux University in France and other institutions are scheduled to take part in panel discussions. The discussions were placed in the conference rooms of the Raynor Library's lower level.

Topics range from "Interactions in Cyberspace" to "Female Lawyers in Hollywood." The conference also is set to feature an exhibit of Jane Eyre lithographs at the Haggerty Museum of Art, a play at Straz Tower titled "Pieces of My Heart," and other events.

Participants in the conference said it is important not just for the women's study program but to dispel certain biases about feminism through a variety of different disciplines.

"Unfortunately the word 'feminist,' as my students often inform me, has extremely negative connotations," said Amy Branam, a graduate student and panel presenter. She is a teaching assistant for English. "However, by attending some of the presentations, I believe that the students will see that the word has various meanings."

"I think that too often an event like this is negatively associated with activism or strictly defined political agendas," said Mark Zunac, an English graduate student. Zunac is set to take place in a panel discussion. "So I would like my students, both male and female, to go to dispel some false impressions they may have of what women's studies is all about."

English Professor and coordinator of the Women's Studies Programs, Diane Hoeveler is the organizer and host of the event.

"I wanted to do something special to commemorate March as Women's History Month," Hoeveler said. "The conference is an opportunity for women to come together and explore the general issue of how women imaginatively create the worlds they inhabit. It celebrates women's various attempts to creatively and positively change their world."

"This is not just an English conference," said Jacob Stratman, an English graduate student and assistant in the conference. "Many fields are represented: law, art, political science and literature."

The conference began 10 years ago, according to Hoeveler. Its goal was to provide visibility to the women's study program on campus, which started seven years before and has since attracted the attention of people from the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Previous themes of the conferences were representations of women, women of color, women and citizenship and women and the law. Hoeveler said this year's theme, "Women and Creativity 6," was chosen for the sixth consecutive year because of its comprehensive nature.

The Women's Studies program, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Brico Fund, the Haggerty Museum of Art, the English Department, the Association of Marquette University Women and the Performing Arts Department are sponsoring the event.

Students who are interested in attending a panel session can pick up a program at the Raynor Library. For information about specific events, students can go to www.marquette.edu/wstudies.

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