Augustana College printing logo

Tea Hour series speakers for 2013-14

The Women's & Gender Studies department's annual Tea Hour series features faculty, staff and guest speakers on a range of topics.  All lectures will be held from 4-5 p.m. in Carlsson Evald Hall (Great Hall).

Lectures are free and open to the public as well as the campus community. For more information about the series, email

Here is the 2013-14 schedule:

Sept. 11, "Taking Back Birth," Alisha Smith, Residential Life area coordinator

Throughout history, women's bodies have been at the forefront of debate. What can we do to them, for them, or against them has been debated, legislated, and manipulated. Perhaps in the most combative of arenas has been the topic of birth and women's role in this fundamental aspect of humanity. This talk will explore the rise of birth legislation and propaganda beginning with the Industrial Revolution following through to today's current birth climate both nationally and globally. Ultimately, this will lead to a discussion of the rights of women over their own bodies and the million-dollar question, "Whose birth is it?"

Oct. 9, "Sex as Capital: The Women of Rome," Dr. Kirsten Day, associate professor of classics

With its interest in lower-class women outside of the main historical narrative, the second season of HBO's "Rome" offers a unique lens through which to examine modern perceptions of regular women in the ancient world. At first glance, the portrayal of women like Eirene, Gaia, and Vorena seems to replicate ancient prejudices about the female nature that are familiar components of modern depictions as well: women are scheming, duplicitous, and dangerous, both sexually and otherwise. The men of Rome, in addition, seem to impose on these women the familiar "goddess/whore" dichotomy prevalent in ancient literary accounts of their upper-class sisters.

Although the series replicates some of these biases, it also takes pains to trouble them, revealing these binary divisions to be a function of individual male subjectivity and exposing the "Catch-22" nature of the dilemma whereby women who would exert agency were limited to channels that required them to enact the very traits that were seen to justify controls on their behavior. As such, "Rome" suggests that in a world where they are largely disenfranchised, women must negotiate power and position by utilizing the tools at their disposal, including their sexuality, their reproductive functions, and their bodies.

Dr. Day has taught in Augustana's Department of Classics and been a contributing member of the Women's & Gender Studies program since 2007. Her research interests focus on women in classical antiquity and classical representations in popular culture. This presentation, which she will be offering again at the November Film & History conference in Madison, Wis., is a shortened version of an article she has contributed to Monica Cyrino's forthcoming anthology on Rome's second season.

Dec. 4, “An International Report on Women’s Issues”– Jane Tiedge & International Students(Evald Great Hall, 4-5pm)

Over the years, Jane Tiedge has often heard our international students discuss the conditions of women and children in their home countries. Two years ago, one student said upon leaving Augustana, she was disappointed that there had not been an opportunity for her to tell us about her home country. To that end, a number of international students will discuss issues that are important to their own family and women in their home countries. Topics covered will include: discrimination and abuse that female activists and spokeswomen are currently experiencing in Sweden; alcoholism and its direct and indirect effects on the women of Sri Lanka; education for women and children in Kenya and Somalia; women’s access to education and skilled jobs in Vietman; the role of Myanmar females in education, marriage, and work.

As Coordinator of International Student Life, Jane Tiedge is starting her 23rd year at Augustana and has been working with international students for over 10 years. Presenting along with Ms. Tiedge are international students Alexandra Sjölin Falk, from Sweden, who’s studying American history, politics, and Chinese at Augustana this year; Dhaneesa Tharakie Pahathkumbura, a degree-seeking first-year student from Sri Lanka; Diney Osman, a first-year student from Kenya who’s also a recent U.S. citizen; senior Daisy Hoang from Vietnam who’s an International Business major with communication and Chinese minors; and sophomore Business major, and current President of International Club, Yee Mon Thant, from Myanmar.

Jan. 22, "Instead," Rebecca Wee, professor of English - (Evald Great Hall, 4-5pm)

April 9, “Gender, Sexuality, & Health in Cuba” Vicki Sommer – (Evald Great Hall, 4-5pm)

Cuba, a poor country, achieves globally-admired health statistics, provides free medical education and training to all those qualified and sends medical teams to countries in need throughout the world. How do they do it with so little? The Communist Party-led government has a new “health initiative” aimed at educating the population about masculinity, machismo, and eliminating homophobia. What has stimulated political interest in undertaking this effort? These and other questions addressed through information and observations gathered in May, 2013 during an educational exchange sponsored by the California-based non-profit, Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba.

Vicki Sommer, Ph.D., ACSW—Sociology, Anthropology & Social Welfare Department. One of the founding mothers of Augustana’s Women’s Studies Program and former Chair of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program, Dr. Sommer’s areas of specialization are gender—both women and men—and social welfare.

April 23, “Understanding Buddhist Nuns: Nuns’ sense and Nonsense” Nirmala S. Salgado –(Evald Great Hall, 4-5pm)

This presentation will consider how the English nomenclature given to Buddhist nuns complicates our understanding of who Buddhist nuns are and what they do. While that nomenclature may appear to facilitate a comparison of Buddhist nuns across the world in terms of their “roles” and “status,” Nirmala Salgado argues that such nomenclature is problematic. She proposes that in order to better understand the “subject” of female renunciation in Buddhism (Buddhist “nuns”), we need to address the meanings conveyed by “native” language nomenclature for nuns, think about the everyday practices of the female renunciants in question, and also take into account how nuns name and identify themselves. This presentation will engage these concerns in relation to the emergence of the subject of female renunciation in Sri Lanka and with some consideration of the idea of “women and development”.

Nirmala S. Salgado, Department of Religion. Dr. Salgado received her M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies London University and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Evanston. While in Sri Lanka she worked at the International Center for Ethnic Studies and began researching the topic of female renunciants. Her work on Buddhist nuns has been published widely in academic journals such as Ethnology, the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Her book, Buddhist Nuns and Gendered Practice: In Search of the Female Renunciant (Oxford University Press), is forthcoming this Fall.