2024 Threads & Themes

Centering Women of Color Feminisms

The direction of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies (WGSS) everywhere is deeply shaped by the leadership, scholarship, and theoretical work of women of color as well as the experiences and perspectives of students of color. This thread highlights the central role of race and ethnicity and the critical role played by Black, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino/a/x and others in shaping WGSS across the UW System, the country, and transnationally. There are many challenges related to teaching, learning, and working in predominantly white institutions and this thread also encourages a narration of this history alongside strategies for supporting the success and retention of people of color in higher education, particularly as changes to affirmative action shift the legal landscape. We welcome proposals that engage with the confluence of feminism, critical race theory, intersectionality, disability studies, and queer theory, particularly as they relate to the impact of women of color feminisms on the growth of WGSS throughout the world. 

Digital Spaces, Online Activism

Digital spaces and the politics, activisms, and pedagogies they contain have radically and irrevocably transformed the way we participate in and interact with feminism and WGSS, both in and out of the classroom. These ideas and programs are introduced to the vast network of internet users daily. Feminists have embraced the virtue of malleability and adapted to this ever-changing mode of communication, keeping a finger on the pulse of communication, consumption, and content trends, as well as the politics and perceptions surrounding feminism that are readily available via these digital spaces. When COVID-19 limited our ability to gather in physical spaces, we found ways to show up for each other digitally, and learned valuable lessons of digital accessibility. To immerse oneself into the digital spaces of social media, the internet, and even augmented reality is to gain access to the multitude of individuals sharing feminist and WGSS knowledge, criticisms, commentaries, and resources.This thread invites proposals that engage with the notion of digital spaces and how they have shaped feminism and the direction of WGSS as an activist and academic discipline over the past 40+ years.

Fugitive Spaces: Feminist, Queer, and Trans Studies

In Excitable Speech (1997), Judith Butler describes how theory works in both “implicit and fugitive ways” (40). This terminology—“fugitive”—has influenced other theorists to explore the idea that political discourses move across boundaries, histories, and disciplines. It is this transmutability that marks the contested relationship between feminist, queer, and trans studies. These fields have been built upon one another, expanding, contracting, and at times—fighting to ensure intellectual, political, and activist space for all possibilities. Or in the words of bell hooks (2000), to ensure that “feminism,” indeed, “is for everybody.” This thread welcomes a look back at the ways in which queer and trans studies have strengthened feminist thought, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as related fields – such as history, sociology, art history, and many others. Projects reflecting on the history of queer and trans studies, as well as ones that look toward the future are encouraged.

Resistance Across the Globe

In the last half-century, feminism and multiculturalism have entered both curriculum and the law to transform how historically oppressive institutions can empower those who are most at the margins. As gender studies and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs have been established, and as civil rights have been codified into law, far-right ideologies have grown in response. This response has taken the form of attempts to, and successful implementation of, abolishing and criminalizing gender studies and DEI programs; queer and trans people’s rights to marriage, adoption, healthcare, and ID changes; legal protections for abortion and contraception; Indigenous people’s rights to land and reproductive rights, and many other corrosive attacks on marginalized groups. Both in the United States and abroad, these protections are under attack. This thread welcomes proposals investigating the ways that feminism and multiculturalism are being threatened by far-right movements across the globe, as well as how this oppression is being counteracted on an institutional and grassroots level.

Student Center(ed)

The history of gender equity centers, pride centers, multicultural student centers, student organizations, and other offices that make campuses more inclusive dates to the 1960s and 1970s. Student centers have played critical roles in institutionalizing feminist and anti-racist work while dismantling racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, and ableist systems. Student centers provide critical work for equity, diversity, and inclusivity which extends to student caregivers, survivors of sexual assault, first generation students, military and veteran students, and other institutionally marginalized groups. Austerity measures and campus realignments over the past five years have drastically reduced and threatened the viability of these critical centers. Budget cuts have led to the elimination of paid director positions, a reduction in operating budgets, the merging of offices supporting the needs of different students, and the closure of many offices for students on access campuses. This thread invites reflection on the history of student centers as well as the urgent need to support their long-term viability in a precarious, and at times hostile, environment. We also welcome proposals from student-run organizations across UW System and beyond.   


Feminism, Community, and the State

This thread examines historical and contemporary feminist approaches to civic engagement at the local, state, and national levels. Potential topics could include voting equity, reproductive rights, affirmative action, queer and trans discrimination, migration, war, incarceration, legislative attacks on critical race theory, diversity and inclusion, and WGSS, or other issues related to human and civil rights. We welcome examinations focused on a variety of areas, from education, research-to-action policy making, clinical care, and advocacy work to engagement with the arts or other areas of creative expression. We particularly welcome papers and panels from WGSS students and alumni who are engaged in community work that builds on their training in the feminist classroom as well as those working in community based-organizations designed to eliminate discrimination in all forms.  

Feminist Pedagogy and Praxis

This thread invites workshops, panels, art projects, performances, and individual papers that explore the transformative praxis of the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies classroom and its growth and evolution over the past fifty years. We particularly encourage proposals that address pedagogies of resistance and hope as feminist scholars face new challenges to curriculum and content in the form of book bans, anti-critical race theory bills, attacks on queer and trans youth, and legislation aimed at the elimination of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and WGSS. Presentations that highlight Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and High Impact Practices (HIPs) focused on DEI in STEM are also particularly welcome, including anti-racist, decolonizing, and queer(ing) practices in curriculum, pedagogy, and administration. Feminist pedagogy intersects with the long genealogy of feminist methodologies, theories, and social justice. Accordingly, we also encourage papers that consider the history of feminist and transfeminist thought in a variety of contexts and perspectives.