By Sarah McDonagh /// Staff Writer
Lewis & Clark students have been furiously preparing for the 35th annual Gender Studies Symposium, to be held March 9-11 on the LC campus. This year’s theme deals with gender and sexuality in play, with topics ranging from the concept of the humorless feminist to the nature of entertainment and comedy.
Both Hannah Daniels ’16 and Caia Jaisle ’17, co-chair and volunteer respectively, are quoted as saying the planning for the symposium is going well.
“I [am an] avid player of many types of games, myself!” Jaisle said. “The theme is much wider than some may think, so everyone should go and see all of the ways that ‘play’ can be examined.”
“[The theme] makes this symposium really accessible and allows for many interpretations of what play means,” Daniels said. “Fun, who gets to have it and how, is one of the main questions we started with in our vision of this symposium, so we are excited for the audience to be a part of that conversation.”
According to Jaisle, LC students can expect a hands-on and entertaining environment.
“There will be games in between events for students to participate in, so it will be a really creative and fun environment, while still covering important issues,” Jaisle said. “The events will touch on so many different topics, such as gender and sexuality within: video game culture, mobility, Buddhism, healing, party culture, athletics, politics, performance and many more! There will be lectures, roundtable and panel discussions, poetry readings, song performances and workshops, so students will have a lot of choices!”
Daniels agreed with the characterization of the symposium as accessible.
“The theme this year really opens up the doors to people who have felt polarized or isolated from gender studies at LC,” Daniels said. “The speakers, themes, panels, and activities are about promoting conversations about the spaces/places/activities that everyone participates in.”
“I feel like everyone has a place in the symposium and will be able to find an event that covers a topic that is important to them,” Jaisle said.
Co-chair Alexa Jakusovszky ’16 is particularly excited for the keynote speaker.
“Our Friday night keynote, D’Lo is a queer/transgender Sri Lankan American actor/writer/comedian,” Jakusovszky said. “D’Lo will share stories of being a queer boy/stud/transgender person who grew up Sri Lankan American, trying to make it all work peacefully while radically and bizarrely challenging mind frames in choosing to exist unapologetically.”
The organizers want students to know that although there will be lots of fun to be had, the symposium will also be a place for serious personal and intellectual work.
“The symposium grants an opportunity for individuals to think about themselves and their own experiences, and make connections with their areas of study and place in the world,” Daniels said. “It is going to be a symposium that is, of course, fun, but also for self-reflection, and we encourage the conversations and events of the symposium to be a space to do this. It is difficult work, but combatting the white cis-hetero capitalist patriarchy is difficult work. I hope this symposium makes a serious dent in the trope of the ‘humorless feminist,’ and sheds light on how ‘play’ is a radical tool for dismantling systems of oppression.”