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


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.


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. 


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 2022/2023

June 16: Forecasting & Prediction – Necessary Skills for the 21st Century Leadership

June 3, 2023

Leadership Studies Research Group has the pleasure to invite for a lecture by Dr. Sam Potolicchio on skills neccessary in 21-century leadership.

OZN Open Academic Sessions grade

Getting your OZN grade

May 29, 2023

Collected all the OZN points required by your program of studies? See what you need to do to get your grade.

Year 2022/2023

May 29: Persephone & Demeter: A Workshop on “Lore Olympus”

May 26, 2023

Join this workshop on the current reiterations of the Persephone and Demeter myth and take part in a little knowledge-production experiment.

Karen Holmberg profile picture

American Studies Colloquium Series

June 1: Reckless Shelter: Contemporary Ecopoetic Practice

May 25, 2023

In this lecture, Karen Holmberg — a poet, writer and academic —will talk about the engagements with environmental and ecological initiatives at Oregon State that have shaped her and her recent work, while sharing and discussing sample poems that show her lifelong preoccupations with language as a living matter and one of the chief tools humans have for “being toward and becoming with” the natural world.

A dense green rainforest

American Studies Colloquium Series

May 25: English Language Bias and the Generalizability Problem in the Face of Global Linguistic Diversity

May 18, 2023

According to different sources, there are between 6,000 to 8,000 languages spoken in the world today. However, many academic fields tend to rely on English as a model language and do not question the generalizability of findings from studies done with English speakers. This talkwill illustrate how English is in some respects unusual and how focusing on it exclusively might provide a biased picture of language and the human mind.