Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
Department Chair:
Greggor Mattson

Administrative Assistant:
David Divins

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8923
Fax: (440) 775-6698

Rice Hall 29
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Leah Freed Memorial Prize - Fall 2012

Leah Freed Memorial Prize - Fall 2012

The Fall 2012 recipients were as follows:

Anna Dardick
Major: Biology / Latin Language and Literature

Project Title: Lost in Translation: Media Coverage of the US HIV/AIDS Epidemic's Blood Bank Controvery
Project Description:  By influencing and informing (or misinforming) voters and policymakers, presentations of scientific theories through various media have the power to change the course of history. To investigate this broad topic, I am focusing on the case study of HIV/AIDS in the US, specifically the controversy surrounding blood banks and the idea of mandatory HIV blood screening tests and questionnaires, which occurred approximately from 1982-1985. A combination of conventional and summative content analysis methods will be used to evaluate newspaper and magazine articles from national news-setters (e.g. New York Times), gay media (e.g. Bay Area Reporter), and scientific sources (e.g. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) published between 1/1/1982 and 12/31/1985. Articles will be analyzed for the presence of language which reflects a bias or subtext, and the frequency of this language will be analyzed using SPSS frequency and correlation functions, expressly to compare the content of national and niche sources. The articles will also be assessed for presence/absence of certain themes, such as: “Does this story favor the institution of regulations on who can donate blood?” and “Does this story mention civil rights/prejudice in relation to blood bank policies?” In addition, I will evaluate media responses during blood bank controversy under current models of effective communication. I intend to give educational presentations to employ said communication techniques and propel scientific research into relevant human reality.

A. D. Hogan
Major: Politics

Project Title: Embodies Praxis: a Genealogical Exploration of Women Theorizing the Political
Project Description:  Hello! I’m A.D. Hogan, one of the recipients of the Leah Freed Memorial Prize. I’m using the prize money to travel to interview a number of leading women political theorists, philosophers, and thinkers. My project, titled, “Embodied Praxis: a Genealogical Exploration of Women Theorizing the Political” traces the historical and existing topology and contours of female scholars, and, more specifically, “women” in political theory as an academic subfield of political science, of the “experience” of “women”, and the disciplinary mechanisms constituted in relations of power, knowledge, gender, and the academy. My project is part-oral history, including collecting stories, experiences, and autobiographical reasons for pursuing political theory and specific questions; part-genealogy, in the Foucaldian and Nietzschean senses, that is, questioning the formation of norms and values in specific contexts and locales; part-radical critique of exegetical political theorizing, because I’m claiming embodiment and oral history as legitimate academic methodologies; part-discovery as to where I can, if at all, “fit” in political theory and the academy; and, part-selfish, as I want to have an excuse to talk to and meet all of my favorite sheroes, writers, and thinkers.

Julia Melfi
Major: Theater & Art History

Project Title: The Bacchae in Edinburgh: Reimagining the Role of Gender in Classical Greek Tragedy
Project Description:  Last spring an ensemble of Oberlin students, including myself, adapted a devised, site-specific theater work based on the Classical Greek tragedy, The Bacchae by Euripides. Our goal was to reinterpret this tragedy into a piece that pushes contemporary notions of what theater is. The ensemble is deeply committed to the work’s continual evolution and eventual performance at the Fringe Festival for a week in August 2013. The Fringe Festival is the world’s largest arts festival that occurs every summer through the entirety of Edinburgh, Scotland. As Europe is the center for devised, experimental and interdisciplinary theater, participating will allow us to better understand this kind of performance. Our performance does not attempt to solve the numerous gender contradictions in this play, but rather, expose, explore and leave them open to new interpretation. But there are still issues we can further illuminate. The Fringe Festival provides a setting to engage in a global conversation with other theater makers about gender and feminism in Classical texts and how to best interpret these issues today. The funds I have received from the Leah Freed Memorial Prize will help offset the financial burden that taking a work like this abroad entails for me. Upon our return, we hope to present about our trip and maybe even set up an international exchange by hosting visiting artists if they are able to travel to Oberlin.

Daniel Quigley
Major: Politics & Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies

Project Title: "Every Story is Different: Queer Perspectives on Gender"
Project Description:  The way we view gender has certainly changed radically in just the last several generations. This is a short film exploring the perspectives of four young people and their own experiences with life and gender. Prompted with questions carefully designed to minimize any "demand characteristic" response, each volunteer was encouraged to be honest without regard to any goal beyond honesty. The intention of the film is not to reinforce an image or promote a thesis, but rather to provide an oral history. Every Story is Different is four people navigating four unique, youth experiences.


Sarp Yavuz
Major: Studio Art

Project Title: They Used to Call Me a Fag
Project Description:  Born into a secular Turkish family and raised in Istanbul, where the East and the West meet, my experience of traditional codes of masculinity has always been skewed. Nevertheless, over the course of my Oberlin College experience, I have realized time and time again that I have internalized many of the conservative values of the Middle East. This exhibition explores my personal dealings with the notion of becoming a man, and the manifestation of these dealings in the form of photography and performance.

I have spent my entire life terrified of becoming my father, a theater director whose absence shaped me. My clearest memories of him are from a TV show in which he portrayed a bohemian, chain-smoking writer who spent hours on the typewriter. I came to associate art with him, and thus have difficulty reconciling the practice of making art.

Growing up in Turkey, I had often been told that I needed to “be a man,” which implied a wide spectrum of responsibilities ranging from sporting a beard to having a wife and kids. Becoming a man meant drinking raki, an alcoholic beverage made from anise, and drinking it well. It meant letting the women clear the table, and watching soccer, swearing occasionally. It meant sounding assertive, and not letting my voice rise when I got excited. I was several points down due to my absent father, and my homosexuality was not doing me any favors either.

For a very long time now, I have wanted to understand this thing I needed to be, that I have felt the weight of my entire life. I thought perhaps reconstructing masculinity would offer insight: If I could dismantle it, build it, manipulate it, then maybe I could figure out how to be a man. The very act of re-creating the imagery I grew up with would be cathartic, because in time it would demystify masculinity. I would construct the fantasy, thus ensuring that it is, after all, fantasy, and needs not hang over my head.

Since 2010, I have been working on several series of photographs, all attempting to gain a better understanding of masculinity. My engagement with my models as well as the images that come out of my interactions contribute to the process of my understanding what it means to be a man. The invasion of the locker room space signifies both my personal act of entering spaces such as this one, over and over again, and also of inviting the audience to experience the fantasy and the alienation of male spaces.

Many people have called me a fag. Many will continue to do so.

But for the first time since 1999, I am dancing again.