We are pleased to announce an online lecture by
Katrine Smiet
(Radboud University)

‘Ain’t I a woman?’: Sojourner Truth, Feminist Theory, and the Unstable Category of ‘Woman’

This lecture is going to be the a part
of the 2021/2022 Fall Edition of the
American Studies Colloquium Series.

Thursday, December 2, 2021
at 5:15 p.m.

You can get 2 OZN points for participating in this event.
Check how to collect OZN points online here.

poster by Joanna Bębenek

Where?

This lecture will be streamed online. To attend, click the button below or enter https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82511092958 into your browser, and join the meeting.

What?

In 1851, Sojourner Truth addressed an audience at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in the United States. Speaking from her life experiences as a black and formerly enslaved woman, Sojourner Truth called attention to the intersections between different social struggles: the struggle for women’s suffrage, and the struggle to end slavery (abolitionism). Asking ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ Truth questioned who was practically and symbolically in- and excluded from the notion of ‘women’ and as an extension, from the women’s rights movement. Her speech called attention to differences among women, and challenged the focus on white and middle-class women’s concerns. In the time since the event took place, the story of Sojourner Truth and the ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ speech has become world famous: it is by now an iconic feminist story. In particular, it has become an important reference point for the theoretical and political framework of intersectionality: a perspective which looks at the intersections and co-constructions of different forms of inequality and oppressions. 

In this talk, I will focus on the deceptively simple question ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ that Truth raises. Does the question presume ‘womanhood’ as a given and stable category, into which Truth – and with her, other marginalized women – can straightforwardly be included? Or does the question destabilize and question the very category of womanhood itself? In this talk, I will trace how feminist thinkers in the late 20th century have taken up and interpreted this question differently. Through an examination of black feminist, poststructuralist feminist and trans feminist interpretations of Truth’s question, the talk performs a feminist genealogy of the category of woman. This genealogy demonstrates that ‘woman’ is in no way an innocent and straightforward descriptive term. Instead, it marks an identity and a social position that is inherently tied up with power structures that are not only gendered, but also raced and classed. 

Who?

Katrine Smiet is assistant professor in Gender & Diversity Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen. Katrine has a background in philosophy and gender studies. Her monograph entitled Sojourner Truth and Intersectionality: Traveling Truths in Feminist Scholarship was published by Routledge in January 2021.

Year 2021/2022

May 30: The (Early) Literature of COVID-19. Session V

May 24, 2022

This open seminar will explore initial literary responses to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, offering participants opportunities to talk through this world-changing event. By the end of the seminar, participants should be able to not only identify but also to interpret and evaluate common features of early COVID literature within and beyond the United States.

American Studies Colloquium Series

June 2: Eat, Migrate, Love: Gastronomic and Sexual Desire as Identity

May 24, 2022

This talk, whose title plays off the Julia Robert’s film “Eat, Pray, Love,” will explore queer films and queer immigrants’ relationships to food as part of the cultural identity, and how the rituals around food preparation and consumption informs their negotiations in the US.

Year 2021/2022

June 8: Sounds of Dune(s): Music-landscaping in Cinema

May 24, 2022

In this workshop we’ll talk about Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and its many adaptations (both real and unrealized), in order to see how music and sound are used to bridge sensory gaps in cinematic experiences, and how to write about such synaesthetic encounters in our research.

Year 2021/2022

May 23: Gender/Sexuality Conference ASC

May 23, 2022

ASC’s Gender/Sexuality Research Group invites all students and faculty members to the first ASC’s Student Conference on gender and sexuality in American studies. We have an exciting day planned, with a keynote by Dr. Richard Reitsma and four panels of student presentations, on everything from feminist theories to representation of trans characters on TV and challenging the norms of masculinity.

American Studies Colloquium Series

May 19: ‘bits of agitation on the body of the whole’: Animals in COVID-19 Literature

May 19, 2022

Given its origins in horseshoe bat populations, the SARS-CoV-2 virus offers many opportunities to re-think our relationships with the nonhuman world around us. In this talk, Raymond Malewitz will explore emerging cultural narratives embodied in COVID poetry and fiction, which tend to reinforce the stiff differences between the human and the nonhuman as physically and conceptually separate from one another.