Kirkland Project Apple

The Kirkland Project Newsletter

Spring 2000

Spring 2000 Artist-in-Residence: Cheryl Dunye

This spring's Kirkland Project artist-in-resi-dence was filmmaker Cheryl Dunye. Dunye has produced several widely distributed filmand video works. Her most recent film, Watermelon Woman, explores African-American and lesbian film history, inter-racial lesbian relationships and the complexities of identity. Set in Philadelphia, Watermelon Woman tells the story of a vivacious, twenty-something lesbian who is determined to make a video documentary about an obscure 1930's black actress popularly known as the "Watermelon Woman." Using fiction, documentary and pseudo-documentary styles of filmmaking, Dunye creates what is rapidly becoming known as the "Dunyementary," a mock documentary style expressed with humor, energy, wit and passion. Watermelon Woman has won awards at gay and lesbian film festivals in Berlin and Los Angeles.

From Jan. 17th to Feb. 11th, Dunye taught an intensive, four-week course titled "Art 200: Video Activism." Students had the opportunity to examine, with Dunye, contemporary issues in activist film and videomaking as they planned, shot, produced and edited their own video pieces.

Besides teaching the course during her one-month residency, Dunye held an informal discussion and screening of her work-in-progress, Stranger Inside, a piece that examines the life of women in prisons. She also hosted two faculty workshops, one on gay/lesbian issues in video and one on race in video. As part of the month-long residency, Alexandra Juhasz presented Women of Vision to the Hamilton community. The residency culminated in a screening of the Art 200 students' pieces.

Special Kirkland Project 1999-2000 Program
Educating for Democracy Series: A Review

The Kirkland Project kicked off the fall season with a lecture given by Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot as part of its "Educating for Democracy Series." On September 16th Lawrence-Lightfoot, a renowned sociologist and professor of education at Harvard University, spoke on "Respect and Education" to a packed Chapel. Her talk centered around her interests in studying schools as social systems, and socialization within families, communities and schools. The Harvard professor is also the author of six books, the most recent of which is Respect (1999), which develops her pioneering social science methodology. Her work was the subject for discussion in a follow-up workshop for teachers from area schools that took place two days after her lecture.

Journalist Peter Schrag raised many questions in his talk "What is Merit? Affirmative Action, Remediation and Diversity" in October. In early November, Professors Amie Macdonald and Lucius Outlaw held the audience spellbound as they debated "Racial Authenticity and White Separatism: the Future of Racial Program Housing." In an unusual collaboration, the Project hosted a panel discussion on "Native-American Educational Experience: Good, Bad and Indifferent," led by speakers from the nearby Oneida Nation. Our own Margo Okazawa-Rey, one of the two Jane Watson Irwin Visiting Professors of Women's Studies, wrapped up the semester with "Beyond Heroes and Holidays: Anti-Racist Multicultural Pedagogy and Curriculum."

In the spring, Professor Sonia Nieto consulted and lectured on multicultural education-defining it clearly-and Professor Ana Celia Zentella met with students and faculty as well as lecturing on "Bilingualism in the Barrios."

Kirkland Project Associateships

The Kirkland Project sponsors three programs that offer students service, teaching and research opportunities. The following associateships engage students in the goals of the Kirkland Project.

Service Associateships

Students apply for these in the spring semester of every year, proposing summer work at an institution dedicated to working toward social justice. The unpaid interns apply for the grants from the Kirkland Project to subsidize their expenses while they complete their summer internships. Recent service associates have interned for Planned Parenthood and the Hetrick Martin Institute, an LGBT youth organization.

Teaching Associateships

Teaching associates are students appointed by the instructors of College 130: Coming of Age in America. They assist the College 130 instructors in teaching the course and facilitating discussions.

Research Associateships

Students apply for these in the fall semester, proposing a research project to be completed during the spring semester of the same academic year. The selected students, their faculty mentors and members of the Kirkland Project meet every other week to discuss the students' research. Projects focus on race, multiculturalism and gender, from a wide range of disciplines.

This spring's research associates were Emily Roynestad '00, Nadia Sangster '00, Lily Bragg '00, Adinah Bradberry '01 and Chris Schuster '00. Their respectve concentrations are world politics-Latin America, classical languages, English and French, Spanish and art. Roynestad worked closely with Professor Margo Okazawa-Rey on "Market Citizenship and Women's Unionization in Chile," in which she studied the impact of free trade agreements on women in Chile. Working with Professor Shelley Haley, Sangster questioned the authorship of the Moretum, based on a race and sex-sensitive analysis of the African female character Scybale for her project, "The Color of Writing: Scybale and the Authorship of the Moretum." Bragg's project, "Cross-Cultural Questioning," looked at the implications of Western beauty standards, as represented in exported American media, on women in Japan. Her mentor was Professor Cheryl Morgan. In "Experiences of African-American Women in 'Fatherless' Households," Bradberry examined female-headed families of color and how the daughters in these families develop without the presence of a biological father. She collaborated with Professor Esther Kanipe. Under the guidance of Professor Steven Goldberg, Schuster challenged the concepts of age and beauty in a series of original oil paintings titled "Her Elders: A Unification of Age and Beauty."

The five research associates shared their projects on April 26th in a multi-media presentation. The event was well-attended and met with much enthusiasm and praise.

College 130: Coming of Age in America

"College 130 gave me an excellent introduction to the Hamilton College curriculum. It covered a lot of the foundation points that I have learned in my other classes. The ideas and methods of thinking," says Jessica Haab '02, one of the students enrolled in the fall 1998 inception of the course, "are extremely valuable and useful in all other aspects of my education at Hamilton."

Haab is not the only student with rave reviews for the Kirkland Project-born seminar. The course, in its second year, is an interdisciplinary analysis of what it means to come of age as an "American," with regard to that designation's intersection with culture, race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

Topics include body, self, family, community, education and labor. The instructors, teaching associates and students read about and discuss the ways in which different academic fields define, present and represent youth and American-ness. They also attend campus events as a group.

When asked why the course was a valuable learning experience, Erin Budd '02 replied: "Because the class is a seminar, it allowed the students to be involved. I felt like I was contributing to the curriculum instead of simply absorbing information. As a whole, College 130 was enlightening and empowering. I felt as a group we could make strides on our small campus, and be effective in making Hamilton a more harmonious community."

EVENTS: 2000-2001

The theme for the Kirkland Project's 2000-2001 programming will be "Southern Accents: Identity, Representation and Resistance through the Arts." This focus will allow us to explore a region with a rich and complex history of political resistance and struggle for social justice, particularly through the creative arts.

Artistic and creative expression enables people who do not traditionally have access to power a means by which they can define, maintain and claim their individual and cultural identities and traditions. Moreover, the seemingly apolitical position of the arts allows people to express their resistance to oppression in what appear to be safe, hidden or benign ways. Often these expressions take the form of story-telling, folk music, traditional dance or quilts, to name but a few. These varieties of creative work produced by Southerners are often dismissed as "low art" without aesthetic legitimacy or political power. Though empowering the individual and strengthening communities, the arts are often a misunderstood or overlooked catalyst for social change.

The programming will include visits by a variety of Southern artists and writers throughout the fall semester. We plan to invite the following artists, among others, to participate: Sheila Kay Adams (Appalachian ballad singer and storyteller), Dorothy Allison (writer), Romare Bearden (exhibit of his work in the Emerson Gallery), Sharon Bridgforth (Black Cajun poet and performer), Hazel Dickens (West Virginia singer and activist in the coal-mining union movement), Mark Doty (poet and writer of memoirs), Footworks (dance company specializing in Appalachian clogging traditions), and Carolyn Mazloomi (scholar on African-American quilting traditions), Quilts of Color: Three Generations of Quilters in an Afro-Texan Family (quilt exhibit).

Summer Seminar 2000
Women's Coming of Age in America: Narratives of Difference


Vivyan C. Adair
Assistant Professor of Women's Studies

Esther Kanipe
Professor of History and Women's Studies

We often speak of "growing up" as if the term has a generally accepted definition. In our modern industrial society, however, with so few formal rituals, how do we know when we have truly come of age? Is there a single measure of coming of age? What are the different ways that Americans in the past and present have experienced coming of age? What are the special characteristics of women's coming of age? Of Americans' coming of age? How do race, class and sexuality affect the coming of age process? By examining this pivotal concept, we can explore aspects of our society and of ourselves as individuals.

We will explore these issues by reading novels about three women's coming of age experiences in America. We will also explore a nineteenth-century alternative view of growing up by visiting the nearby Oneida Community Mansion House, and learning about this Utopian commune. Finally, moderators and participants will engage in journal writing and in a shared comparison and discussion of our own coming of age.

This seminar grew from our work in the Kirkland Project, and especially from the first-year seminar sponsored by the Project, "Coming of Age in America: Narratives of Difference." Our experience in exploring these issues with first-year college students and our experience during the summer can strongly reinforce each other; in both cases, the insights of one group will enrich the classes with the other.

Cost: $300, includes accommodations (3 nights), light meals, class readings and excursions. For further information please contact Jennifer Hayes, Director of Special Programs, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323, (800)222-6381 or (315)859-4004, fax: (315)859-4648.

Kirkland Project Panels: A New Tradition

Beginning in 1997, the Project sponsored two topic-linked panel discussions, the first during Alumni weekend in the fall. In 1997 and1998 the panels focused on multiculturalism and the curriculum. This year, the panel talked about the Project's first-year interdisciplinary seminar "College 130: Coming of Age in America: Narratives of Difference," now being taught for the second time. Topics have included body, self, family, community, education and labor, approached from the ways different fields-the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences-define and present "Americanness." Esther Kanipe, Professor of History, gave an overview of the history of the development of the course; Byron Miller '02, talked about starting out in College 130 as a first semester student last year, and about his work as a teaching assistant for the new course; Vivyan Adair, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies outlined the reading and writing assignments, and Rebecca Walker '02, talked about how College 130 affected her life outside the classroom.

Many in the audiences have singled out the Kirkland Project Panels as the intellectual highlight of the weekend, confirming our commitment to continue bringing vital news about our exciting programs and courses to the larger Hamilton Community.

For the spring and summer of 2000 panels, the Kirkland Project will focus on our programs for students, including the associates program, and our summer internships. Our student panelists will talk about their participation in these programs.