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Tea Talks

The Women's & Gender Studies Tea Talks 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

Videos of the talks are archived on the Augustana YouTube Tea Talks channel.


Bob’s Burgers and Gender 2.0

Sept. 14, 2016

Dr. Margaret France - director of advising, transfer and transitional students

Description: The cast of "Bob’s Burgers" includes many characters who challenge conventional notions of identity. Marshmallow, a black transgender sex worker, becomes a kind of role model for Bob in her unwillingness to limit herself to traditional categories. By contrast, Andy and Ollie Pesto’s inability to individuate makes them easy prey for Louise. On the surface level, "Bob’s Burgers" seems very progressive in its diversity, but some critics see its depictions of non-normative gender identities as perpetuating stereotypes, singling out the season one episode, “Sheesh! Cab, Bob?” for particular scrutiny. By putting that episode in the broader context of the series’ approach to other social categories, this chapter reads "Bob’s Burgers" as an attempt to grapple with what Kimberlé Crenshaw terms “intersectionality,” or a multiplicity of non-normative identities. 

A Season Without: The Gender Expectations of Sports Fandom 

Oct. 12, 2016

Brett Biebel - adjunct assistant professor of english

Description: On a wall in my house, there's a framed stock certificate denoting that I own one share of the Green Bay Packers. I used to walk by it with pride every day. There a came a time in the summer of 2015, however, when calling myself a "football fan" felt more like a confession than a simple description. It came with a sense of gnawing guilt, likely the result of stories of domestic abuse, concussion cover-ups, and player arrests. When that guilt reached critical mass, I did the previously unthinkable. I vowed to avoid the game, at all levels, for one full season. It was my very own, Morgan Spurlock experiment.

Of all the results, I was most surprised by how the simple act of refusing to watch a particular television channel on Saturdays and Sundays (and, of course, Mondays, some Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Thursdays) felt like an abdication of masculinity. This presentation focuses on that aspect of the football fast. It examines the gender signals given off by the weekly spectacle of football, the traditionalist roles sports often emphasize, and, perhaps most importantly, the way that sports and sports-related discussion provides a constant topic for male conversation, reinforcing expectations and even, occasionally, hindering the potential for deeper, more substantive, more personal connection. The NFL in particular markets itself as a social game, often featuring "watch-parties" and friendly bonding in its ads. I have to admit that I still see great in the ability of sports to unite people of all sorts. A Season Without, however, made me wonder if that ability ever realizes its potential in daily conversation. This presentation strives to address that discrepancy via a mix of personal reflection, discussion, and artifact analysis.

Equal Pay and Negotiation for Women in Industry

Nov. 23, 2016

Desiree Grace, business and marketing instructor

Between Vulnerability and Resilience: Representations of Veil in Our Era

Jan. 25, 2017

Dr. Umme Al-Wazedi - associate professor of english

Description: The veil's ancient and modern history and its resurgence in our time is an important subject for discussion for those of us posing new questions about women and Islam in literature, film, and fine arts. In Europe and the U.S., the veil is often presented through errors of conceptualizations. The media, in particular, seems to be obsessed with the role of the veil. Recurrently, these discussions run along essentialist and ahistorical lines associating Islam with the ideology of shame and honor. Moreover, the Muslim immigrant "problem" in Europe and the U.S. and the fear of Islam and Muslims in connection with terrorism has heightened the controversy on the issue of the veil. In France, the subject of women and Islam, and the veil in particular, has been highly politicized. In Denmark, as well, the veil is associated with the position of the Muslim women as marginalized and subjugated. While this is the case with Europe and the U.S., in South Asia, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the veiled Muslim woman represents a controversial and questioning position in the construction of the nation-state. My talk seeks to initiate a dialogue on the use of the veil in literature, film, and fine arts (photography, painting etc.) by analyzing and critiquing its use. How do we see the veil when it is talked about in the media, in the teaching of Islam, and in upholding it as a national symbol of a nation-sate? Is the use and meaning of veil presented as natural or constructed; real or metaphorical; and religious or political? I intend to not only challenge the stereotypes but also go beyond the veil. Understanding the complexity of the use of veil as Fatima Amrani Zerrifi rightly says, "It may be a political, religious or cultural taboo that women are trying to dismantle, as it may be a mask, a site of resistance, a third space that women hide behind," my talk's purpose is to problematize the danger of believing in a single story.

Sex Ed, Christian Churches, and Young Adult Women

March 22, 2017

Emily S. Kahm - adjunct assistant professor of religion

Description: This interactive presentation will explore ways in which Christian churches, and Catholic churches in particular, engage the topics of sex and sexuality with girls during adolescent years, and how the influence of that education lingers (or is dismissed) when women enter young adulthood. Based on the in-depth interviews of 15 young adult women who were raised in the Catholic tradition, this talk will note the distinct experiences of women who have left the Catholic tradition and those who have stayed. Dominant themes include the fear of asking sex-related questions in religious contexts, the way proscriptive sexual norms can be experienced as both empowering and life-limiting, and the role of conversational learning and romantic relationships in developing sexual values as a young adult. This project follows the methods of feminist theology, which centralizes the voices of women when engaging in theological discussion.

Changing the Playing Field: Women as Policy Makers in Northern India

April 5, 2017

Dr. Pareena Lawrence - provost and dean of College; professor of economics

Description: The book "From the Margins to the Center: Life histories of Panchayat Sarpanchs from Haryana" is a collection of life histories of women sarpanchs (village chiefs) who reside in rural Haryana, a state located in North India. The empowerment of women, particularly those that live in primarily agrarian societies is a complex and paradoxical issue and is nowhere more evident than in Northern India. While schooling is not encouraged for many women; long hours spent on household chores and unrecognized farm work and animal husbandry are part of their daily lives from a very young age. As I look at the impact of the 73rd Amendment that requires women to participate and lead in local governance, this collection of life histories of elected women sarpanchs compiled in this manuscript shares the lived realities of 10 women who are directly impacted by this legislation. Their life stories reveal how these women leaders became aware of their responsibilities only after they were elected.  Just a handful of the women sarpanchs' are determined to take their responsibilities as a leader seriously and are actively making a difference for their communities. Most of the women sarpanchs' are struggling to understand their new roles and are unable to realize their agency.

Did the legislation make an impact? Perhaps not in big ways where suddenly the women become leaders and change agents in their communities but it has impacted their sense of individual agency and knowledge of social development policies and practices. This book is part of a five-year long study that the author conducted in two northern states in India where over 900 men and women sarpanchs were interviewed about their roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments as sarpanchs. What I conclude is that the positive change that this policy was expected to bring will take some time to take hold and show consistent results. Patriarchal forces do not retreat simply because of policy changes, structural and other barriers must be removed to bring real change. State and federal/central agencies can help facilitate this change process by enacting policies, processes, and procedures that help women capitalize on their agency that was established by the 73rd amendment to the Indian constitution.


A Feminist Investigation into Nineteenth-Century Italian Art

April 20, 2016

Dr. Claire L. Kovacs, director, Augustana Teaching Museum of Art
Carlsson Evald, Great Hall

Description: The Macchiaioli were a group of Tuscan painters whose work presaged that of the French Impressionists, and connected with many modernist impulses including an engagement with the qualities of light on canvas, subject matter that focused on their changing sense of place, and their role — both active and through critical interpretation — in the formation of an Italian artistic identity (or at least an attempt at creating one). Unfortunately, while the critical history of the Macchiaioli proceeds in fits and starts in the art historical discourse outside of Italy, the role of women within this movement is all but unknown.

Administrators, Mothers, and Smugglers: Teasing out the Political Roles of Women within the United States Illicit Drug Trade

March 23, 2016

Dr. Jason Plume, visiting assistant professor of political science
Carlsson Evald, Great Hall

Description: The illicit drug trade has been condemned, heralded, and romanticized. However, whether depicted as convicts, heroes to the people, or mysterious individuals worthy of being film noir protagonists, popular culture and much of academic research has focused on men as the central figures controlling and profiting from illegal substances. This research examines the political roles of women within the U.S. illegal drug trade; moonshining during Prohibition, the international cocaine market and large scale marijuana cultivation have, and continue to include women as integral nodes for the success of such operations.  

The Revolution Will Wear Pink Bunny Ears: 'Bob's Burgers' and Birth Order Theory

Dec. 16, 2015

Dr. Margaret France

Description: "Bob's Burgers" distinguishes itself from animated family sitcoms like "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" by harnessing the surreal possibilities of the medium to parody popular social science rather than current events or popular entertainment. Rule-governed eldest daughter Tina valiantly attempts to act as a proxy for her parents, middle child Gene performs manically in a constant attempt to keep their attention, while Louise, as the youngest, exhibits all the rebelliousness of a typical "laterborn," to use the terminology from Frank J. Sulloway's controversial study "Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives."

Folktales and Fables: Gender Stereotypes in Children's Literature

Dec. 2, 2015

Danielle Beliveau-Derion, assistant professor of education

Description: Children's literature has a long history that is heavily influenced by the era in which the books are written. It reflects the ideological perspectives of the culture and serves as a dissemination of cultural values from one generation to the next. Consequently, children's literature more often manifests adult views of the world rather than a point of view that is representative of children.The characters portrayed in children's books have a heavy influence on children's beliefs about the world in which we live. Often times these books serve as socially acceptable or "normal" models of behavior. The way that gender is portrayed in these books has a profound effect on children. They can shape career development, frame attitudes about future roles in society, and even go as far as to impact personality characteristics (Hamilton, Anderson, Broaddus, & Young, 2006). During this discussion, the researcher will explore the world of children's books and provide an analysis of distribution and representation of gender, biological sex, and gendered behavior in children's literature.

In/visibility and belonging in Costa Rica

October 14, 2015

Dr. Tony Pomales, fellow in sociology, anthropology and social welfare.

Description: Drawing on 14 months of ethnographic research in the urbanized and heavily touristed city of San José, this talk will explore the senses of belonging of older women sex workers in Costa Rica and the discursive space within which they are allowed to be seen and understood.Empowerment strategies developed by study participants to address these issues will also be discussed.

Men at the co-op don't talk': Homosocial networks and farmland management in Iowa

October 7, 2015 

Dr. Angie Carter, assistant professor of sociology

Description: This Tea Talk shares some of Angie Carter's dissertation research studying Iowa women farmland owners' constructions of land ownership and land use. Recent demographic shifts in U.S. agriculture and the pressure for farmers to "feed the world" in the face of increased population and climate change realities make now a propitious time to study gender and its implications in farmland management.Dr. Carter focuses on women farmland owners' experiences in Iowa, U.S., where women own or co-own approximately half of the state's farmland. She uses qualitative data to analyze how interactive processes maintain gendered agricultural narratives and the obstacles these processes create for women landowners in the management of their farmland with tenants and co-owners.This talk focuses on how the creation of homosocial spaces for women farmland owners may challenge these cultural narratives and provide opportunity for intervention.