Monthly Archives: October 2016

Women’s Power | Women’s Justice


This week’s Theme Thursday features the works of Kara Walker, whose works explore race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity. She is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes.

index (2)Narratives of a Negress“accompanied an exhibition organized by the Tang Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and the Williams College Museum of Art, presents a comprehensive overview of Walker’s work, beginning with her first cut-paper wall installation, Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart (1994). Other highlights include the 1996 series of twenty-four watercolor drawings, Brown Follies, which is reproduced in full as an artist’s book within the book, and installation views of many of Walker’s exhibitions. Recent drawings and projections are also featured. Throughout the book are a selection of the Walker’s writings reproduced as they were created typed on index cards. These writings reveal a rarely seen side of the artist, whose words are as provocative as her installations and drawings. The essays discuss Walker’s place in art history, formal and narrative readings of her work, her relation to culture at large, and issues of race, sexuality, and representation addressed in her work.”

Card Swipe Access at Ames

Card swipe access at The Ames Library will be enabled beginning November 1. During daytime hours, the library will remain accessible as usual. Card swipe hours are Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and Friday and Saturday, 6:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. At these times, the library is accessible to all students, faculty and staff, visiting scholars, and retirees using their ID cards. Alumni and members of our I-Share consortium may gain entrance by showing their ID cards. During special events, such as Homecoming, the card swipe system will be disabled.

If you have any questions, please contact the University Librarian, or 309-556-3834.

Voting Habits: Suffrage Postcards

Postcards, though now considered a novelty, were considered to be of the upmost social importance during the early 20th century. The 1908 election was decided, in part, on the postcards printed and sent out. The Suffrage Moment also benefited greatly from postcards as women would make and send them out, using them as propaganda to get people on board for their movement.

our-views-at-gloucesterLisa Tickner, a British Suffragist, noted that the pictorial postcard was “possibly the great vehicle for messages of the new urban proletariat between 1900 and 1914’ (it was cheap to buy and to post, simple to use, and quick to arrive in an age of frequent postal deliveries).” Postcards were displayed on coffee tables inside houses, women would join postcard clubs and subscribed to postcard journals, so of course both the suffrage and anti-suffrage movement used postcards to their advantage.

About 4500 postcards were produced using a suffrage theme. They would use real photos of the suffragists in parades and fighting for their rights. This was used in tandem with written messages about the importance of suffrage as well. These women used something popular at the time to further their cause, as modern feminists use social media today. The anti-suffrage movement also teamed up with the big commercial postcard companies to combat the movement, showing suffragists as humorous and harmless.

To the commercial postcard companies’ dismay, the Suffragists’ efforts prevailed and the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920.

Learn more about Suffrage postcards here:

Combatting Anti-Blackness: Black Women Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

“In the spirit of collaboration and mutual support, a working group of faculty, students and staff members selected “Women’s Power, Women’s Justice” as a 2016-2017 intellectual theme that reflects faculty-led interest that we hope will permeate the campus community and conversations throughout the academic year.”


In conjunction with this year’s theme, students, staff and faculty will be participating in the campus-wide Combatting Anti-Blackness Against Women and Girls Initiative. To quote 2016 Colorblind Racism Summit keynote speaker Charlene Carruthers ’07, anti-blackness is “a system of beliefs and practices that destroy, erode and dictate the humanity of black people; the belief that there is something wrong with black people.” The objectives of this initiative are to:

  • commit to combatting anti-blackness against black women and girls
  • build community through the celebration of black women and girls
  • create cross-disciplinary expressions of love and appreciation through scholarship

This initiative, in an effort to support the theme of “Women’s Power, Women’s Justice”, is a celebration of Black women and girls. In keeping with IWU’s mission of commitment to diversity and social justice, this community will actively engage in curricular and co-curricular activities related to specifically to combatting anti-blackness against women and girls in our shared learning and living spaces and beyond.

Controversy at the Hugo Awards

  • The Hugo Awards are given annually in several categories of publications in science fiction and fantasy.
  • In 2015, a group known as the “Sad Puppies” decided to lobby for a slate of writers and publications that aligned with their own view of how scifi/fantasy ‘should be’.
  • downloadThe effort was seen as “a rebuke to the women, people of color, and LBGTQ folks seeking a place in the science-fiction/fantasy world” (Slate, 2016) and
  • While some of the works put forth by the Sad Puppies were shortlisted and went on to win Hugo Awards, there was a backlash against the effort.
  • In some categories, authors declined their nominations in protest of the Sad Puppies’ effort, and others publicly decried the group itself.
  • Voters also had their say in 2015: “Voters opted to give “no award” in the five categories wholly overtaken by puppy nominees.” (Slate, 2016)
  • In 2016, the Sad Puppies put forth a list of recommendations for awards, and although some of the works on their list won awards, the wins were attributed not to the Puppies, but to the high quality of the works.
  • The winner of the 2016 Hugo for Best Novel was N.K. Jemisin for “The Fifth Season.”
  • In an interview with The Guardian, Jemisin said: “It’s human nature that we come in our own flavours,” fantasy author NK Jemisin tells the Guardian, “and it doesn’t make any sense to write a monochromatic or monocultural story, unless you’re doing something extremely small – a locked room-style story. But very few fantasy worlds ever do that. In fact, epic fantasy should not do that.”

In honor of NK Jemisin, this year’s winner of the prestigious Hugo Award, The Ames Library is proud to highlight the works of Jemisin and other black women science fiction and fantasy authors. All these books are available to check out, so please help yourself!


Katy Waldman, “Oh No, the Puppies Are Back for the 2016 Hugo Awards—and As Angry As Ever.” Slate, April 29, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2016 at


Many thanks to Annie Harb, for her hard work assembling a full list of black women authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres, for her work identifying titles to buy, and for the creation of the awesome timeline featured above.

Women’s Power | Women’s Justice


Originally published in 1991, Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women rings just as true 25 years later. From the book cover: ““Opting-out,” “security moms,” “desperate housewives,” “the new baby fever”—the trend stories of today leave no doubt that American women are still being barraged by the same backlash messages that Susan Faludi brilliantly exposed in her 1991 bestselling book of revelations. Now, the book that reignited the feminist movement is back in a fifteenth anniversary edition, with a new preface by the 51KMYJXJ66L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_author that brings backlash consciousness up to date.

When it was first published, Backlash made headlines for puncturing such favorite media myths as the “infertility epidemic” and the “man shortage,” myths that defied statistical realities. These willfully fictitious media campaigns added up to an antifeminist backlash. Whatever progress feminism has recently made, Faludi’s words today seem prophetic. The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and the “dangers” of women’s career ambitions; the glass ceiling is still low; women are still punished for wanting to succeed; basic reproductive rights are still hanging by a thread. The backlash clearly exists.

With passion and precision, Faludi shows in her new preface how the creators of commercial culture distort feminist concepts to sell products while selling women downstream, how the feminist ethic of economic independence is twisted into the consumer ethic of buying power, and how the feminist quest for self-determination is warped into a self-centered quest for self-improvement. Backlash is a classic of feminism, an alarm bell for women of every generation, reminding us of the dangers that we still face.”

Women’s Power | Women’s Justice


If you’re looking for a bit of social commentary, head to the fiction section of a book store or library. Authors are often the first to criticize social norms or call out the potential harm of some new trend. Alice Hoffman challenges us to think about suburban stereotypes with her story of a 1950s single-mother in Seventh Heaven.

From the book summary: “On Hemlock Street, the houses are identical, the lawns tidy, and the families traditional. A perfect slice of suburbia, this Long Island community shows no signs of change as the 1950s draw to a close—until the fateful August morning when Nora Silk arrives.

Recently divorced, Nora mows the lawn in slingback pumps and climbs her roof in the middle index (1)of the night to clean the gutters. She works three jobs, and when her casseroles don’t turn out, she feeds her two boys—eight-year-old Billy and his baby brother, James—Frosted Flakes for supper. She wears black stretch pants instead of Bermuda shorts, owns twenty-three shades of nail polish, and sings along to Elvis like a schoolgirl.

Though Nora is eager to fit in on Hemlock Street, her effect on the neighbors is anything but normal. The wives distrust her, the husbands desire her, and the children think she’s a witch. But through Nora’s eyes, the neighborhood appears far from perfect. Behind every neatly trimmed hedge and freshly painted shutter is a family struggling to solve its own unique mysteries. Inspired by Nora, the residents of Hemlock Street finally unlock the secrets that will transform their lives forever.

A tale of extraordinary discoveries, Seventh Heaven is an ode to a single mother’s heroic journey and a celebration of the courage it takes to change.”


Calling all gif-makers, creatives, history nuts, animators,and lovers of the internet. GIF IT UP (October 1-31, 2016) is an annual international competitions organized by the Digital Public Library of America to find the best gifs using public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, text, and other materials found in DPLA and other participating digital libraries.

How it works

To enter GIF IT UP, you need to make a gif with material(s) which you have found on DPLA,Europeana, DigitalNZ, or Trove. Your source material must come from at least one of these four sources and be clearly marked as:

  • in the public domain;
  • have a ‘no known copyright restrictions’ statement;
  • or have a Creative Commons license which allows for reuse.

Tobias Roth

Tobias Rothe, 2015 Grand Prize Winner (more info)

You can enter up to three gifs, using still images or video from the four participating digital libraries. You have from October 1 to October 31 to submit your entry.

All entries that meet the criteria outlined on the submission guidelines page below will be showcased on the competition’s Tumblr and generally adored by the Internet. Entries that do not meet the criteria will not be posted online.

Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, and thoroughness (i.e., correct URL to source material and contextual information).

Apply and learn more here.

Women’s Power | Women’s Justice


This week’s Theme Thursday features another woman whose works were attacked when tSilent_Spring_First_Edhey were made public, but were praised after reports generated by men upheld her claims. Taking four years to complete, Silent Spring documented the dangers of pesticides and herbicides, showed the long-lasting presence of toxic chemicals in water and on land, and concluded that DDT and other pesticides, after entering the food chain, caused cancer and genetic damage after building up in the body.

The evidence presented Rachel Carson’s book initiated an attack on her from the agricultural chemical industry, calling the book everything from “sinister” and “hysterical” to “bland,” but the public’s concern was raised. Then President John F. Kennedy read the book and ordered an advisory committee to examine Carson’s findings. The report upheld the findings presented in the book, and in 1963 the US Senate opened an investigation of pesticides.