Teaching Conversations embraces feminist principles of equity and eco-social justice, and sets into motion participatory, self-knowledge, and critical inquiry.
Teaching Conversations is a project of a group of feminist colleagues at Penn State in architecture, film, communications, art history, theatre, visual arts, art education, English/utopian studies, information science and technology, curriculum and instruction, archives, Jewish studies, and women’s studies who began to engage in conversations together in fall semester 2011 about the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection, and especially about ways to use it in our curriculum.
Dr. Susan Russell—with teaching assistant, Chazie Bly, an undergraduate senior pursuing a double major in theatre and women’s studies—facilitated a project for a senior level course on Women in Theatre in which students utilized the Judy Chicago archive in the Pattee Library to create video projects as a feminist response to the Sandusky sexual assault scandal. Chazie Bly describes, “After watching how Judy Chicago worked with students to present their problems and concerns as art, students discussed their own fears with creating a response to such controversial material. Chicago’s videos encouraged Russell’s students to create performance art from their concerns surrounding the Sandusky scandal.”
The work in the Collection also offered a platform for conversations on media representation of women as well as symbolic visual languages that can be used to explore local and global issues of violence against women and children. Student groups, using the Chicago Collection during their 15-week exploration of feminist theory, global female playwrights, and local fieldwork, dramatized local stories of assault in ways that questioned dominant discourses of politics, media, and community. Their resulting videos interpreted a “feminist response” through communication, listening, and actively seeking to shake the foundations of violence in contemporary culture.
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