Toward a More Perfect History for the 21st Century

Symposium Fri 8 Mar 2013 4.00PM-9.00PM The New School, Wollman Hall
65 West 11th Street, 5th floor
20 Years VLC => Free admission
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In a time of staccato bursts of information and experiences measured in tweets, this symposium celebrates International Women's Day by looking at women of the past, and how their representations and self-representations are inspiring New School students, faculty, and guests today.

In 1605, in his seminal work The Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon described "perfect history" in the following manner: "But lives, if they be well written, propounding to themselves a person to represent in whom actions both greater and smaller, public and private, have a commixture, must of necessity contain a more true, native, and lively representation."

The students, scholars, artists, dancers, writers, and historians assembling on March 8 are writing a "More Perfect History," calling attention to women's self-representations and self-writing. Inspired by
radical feminist Mary Hays (1759-1843) and her groundbreaking work Female Biography (1803)—the first history of women since Christine de Pizan's City of Ladies (1405) and the first in English—the event celebrates "female biography" as a valid form of inquiry, even though women's life histories rarely follow the traditional prototype of "Great Men."

Gina Luria Walker, Associate Professor of Women's History at The New School for Public Engagement, editor of the Chawton House Library Edition of Female Biography, and director of Project Continua, guides a discussion on how to portray female intellectuals of the past, little remembered and mostly forgotten, who paved the way for the right to higher education that many of us now enjoy.

Throughout history, learned women have contributed to the collective body of human knowledge, yet their discoveries were rarely integrated into the received continuum of foundational knowledge and, therefore, excluded from teaching and learning about the past. Focusing on the lives of women reclaimed by feminist scholarship over the last 50 years, this symposium analyzes the impulse to risk self-writing, features women's self-representation over time in letters, journals, novels, and other genres, and examines how self-writing has functioned as a vehicle for mentoring, instruction, and inspiration for women.

The symposium unfolds over several acts that stage a multitude of media and self-writing, ranging from the visual arts to poetry, scholarship to dance, song to fashion. Among the participants are Susan Cameron, Kate Eichhorn, Andrea Geyer, Carin Kuoni, Catherine Morris, Mary Spongberg, and Gina Luria Walker, with Jean E. Taylor acting as interlocutor.
    • Toward a More Perfect History: Prelude
    • Toward a More Perfect History: Act 1: Love and Learning
    • Toward A More Perfect History For The 21st Century Act 2 Anonymous
    • Toward A More Perfect History For The 21st Century Act Iii Missing Women Women Missing
    • Toward A More Perfect History For The 21st Century Act 4 Rebellious Women
    • Toward A More Perfect History For The 21st Century Act 5 Finale
4:00 – 9:00 pm

4:00 – 4:30 pm
Gina Walker, From Love Letters to Female Biography, keynote address
Elaine Abelson, Tribute to Gerda Lerner

Act I: Love and Learning
4:30 – 5:00 pm
Jean E. Taylor
Jim Anderson and Lauren Salvo, __beware!__I am a little proud slut__but remember I gave you warning! Dramatic reading of Mary Hays's 1778 letter, adapted from Hays's Love-Letters by Gina Luria Walker and Susan Cameron, and directed by Christie Marie Clark.

Act II: Anonymous
5:00 – 6:00 pm
Jean E. Taylor
Koren Whipp, Who was she? Unraveling the mysteries of Hays's entry for "Anonymous" that wraps five women into one, and other puzzles of history, talk
Elena Testi, Laura Bassi: Her Life (1711-1778), talk
Andrea Geyer, Three Chants Modern. Women, Art and Politics, video (work in progress)
Catherine Morris, Lively Representations of Smaller Actions: Exhibiting Biographical Footnotes, talk
Amber Matthews, Nina Simone's Four Women, song

6:00 – 6:30 pm

Act III: Missing Women/Women Missing
6:30 – 7:45 pm
Jean E. Taylor
Amy Minter, Christine De Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, reading
Penny Whitworth, Ashkenaz Women: The Times of the Crusades, talk
Carin Kuoni, Mary Fischer, talk
Thelma Armstrong, Matoaks (Pocahontas), talk
Kristen Stevens, Gret Palucca beyond 20th-century Germany, talk
Kate Eichhorn, Archival Encounters and Contemporary Feminisms, talk

Act IV: Rebellious Women
7:45 – 8:00 pm
Trey K. Blackburn, Alexandra Gellner, and Selena Lopez, Rebel. Dramatic reading of excerpts of Rebel, Susan Cameron's screenplay about Deborah Sampson. Directed by Christie Clark.

8:00 – 8:30 pm
Mary Spongberg, Female Biography to Memoirs of Queens: Final Acts in Mary Hays's Feminist Career, closing remarks

8:30 – 9:00 pm

The works listed below are on display in Wollman Hall during the symposium.

Jessica Chan, Elizabeth I, Princess to Britannia, Painting
Jessica Chan, Xiang Jingyu, Poster
Carrie Crowell, Beyond Wives, painting
Courtney Dransfield, Branding Manon Roland, Girondist Martyr of the French Revolution, video
Tennessee Dye, Portrait of the Woman as an Artist: Female Artists in the Age of Enlightenment, Video
Elianna Greenberg, Blazing World Book, Print
Sam Greenberg, Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun: A Portrait of Determination, Video essay
Mary Hays, Female Biography, first edition, Grateful acknowledgement is made to Steven van Leeuwen
Selens Lopez
Joana Maresh, The Patriarchal Nature of Our Language, Zine
Mikayla Markrich, There Once Was a Girl Named Anna, Children's book with illustrations
Carrie Novitzski, Women's Handwork, Tapestry with passages from Milton's Paradise Lost and Anna Maria von Schurmann's Whether A Christian Woman Should be Educated
Kaitlin Sansoucie, Hertha Ayerton: Every Inch a Woman, Video
Kaitlin Sansoucie, There is no Bassi in London, Video
Danielle Small, Montaigne's Blog, Print
Koren Whipp, Mercy Otis Warren: Founding Mother, Video

Elaine Abelson, Associate Professor of History, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts
Jim Anderson, The New School for Drama '13
Thelma Armstrong, Executive Assistant to the Dean, The New School for Public Engagement
Trey K. Blackburn, The New School for Drama
Susan Cameron, Part-time Assistant Professor, The New School for Drama
Jessica Chan, New School of General Studies '11
Christie Marie Clark, The New School for Drama '13
Carrie Crowell, The New School of Public Engagement '12
Courtney Dransfield, Parsons the New School for Design '12, Founder and Partner, Landed
Tennessee Dye, Parsons and SUS '13
Kate Eichhorn, Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies, Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts
Alexandra Gellner, MFA '13, The New School for Drama
Andrea Geyer, Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Parsons The New School for Design
Elianna Greenberg, Lang '13
Sam Greenberg, Lang '16
Carin Kuoni, Director/Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School of Public Engagement
Joana Maresh, Lang '14
Mikayla Markrich, Parsons '12
Amber Matthews, The New School for Jazz '15, Parsons The New School for Design
Amy Minter, Special Projects Coordinator, Office of the Provost
Catherine Morris, Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum
Carrie Novitzski, SUS '12
Selena Reed, The New School for Drama '13
Lauren Salvo, The New School for Drama '13
Kaitlin Sansoucie, Lang '11
Danielle Small, Eugene Lang College, '13
Mary Spongberg, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia
Kristen Stevens, The New School '09; MA, Teachers College, Columbia University '12
Jean E. Taylor, Part-time Lecturer, The New School for Drama
Elena Testi, SUS '07, video producer, Human Rights Watch
Gina Luria Walker, Associate Professor of Women's History, The New School for Public Engagement, editor of the Chawton House Library Edition of Female Biography, and director of Project Continua
Koren Whipp, NSGS '11, NSSR '13
Penny Whitworth, SUS '13

The symposium is sponsored by The New School for Public Engagement and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics in celebration of Project Continua, and supported by an Academic Event Fund contribution.

More information on the image: "Matoaks als Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhâtan Emperour of Attanoughkomouck als virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith, and wife to the wor.ff Mr. Joh Rolff." The inscription under the portrait reads "Ætatis suæ 21 A. 1616," Latin for "at the age of 21 in the year 1616."