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October 2000

The Women’s Times

Volume 6

October 2000

What Do You Know About Samhain?

by Jessica Donald

Probably much more than you think. Samhain is the actual, and still used, word in Pagan traditions for our current-day “Halloween.” Halloween has gone through a variety of name and phase variations to get to where it is now. It has been known as All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Samhain, Spirit Night, Hallow E’en, and Saven. Our current day holiday, with its treats and goblins, was actually the way that the Paleopagans split their year for livestock and harvest. This celebration and indication of time can be traced back to 4000 B.C.E. As we look back upon our modern holiday, we see its link to the Celtic tradition. The Celts celebrated four different fire festivals known today as Samhain (Halloween), Candlemas, Beltainne, and Lughnasadh. Samhain marked the Celtic New Year with celebrations beginning at sundown. As we continue on our journey, we must realize that the Celtic belief system honored the dead through offerings of food left on their tables. This was their day to thank their ancestors. With the advent of Christianity, the name of this holiday was changed to “All Hallows Eve.” The common Celtic folktales of faeries and their custom of honoring their ancestors were transformed into tales of demons, ghouls, and unsettled spirits. This eventually led to the holiday’s present association with ghosts and the supernatural. As Christianity grew, All Saints’ Day, a day to honor those who had died for the Christian religion, and Hallows Eve, were introduced by Pope Gregory III. The Eve of All Hallows Day, Oct. 31, became All Hallows Even, which eventually transformed into Halloween. In our ‘new world’ the holiday loses its immense religious connotation and gains the attributes of a more festive harvest-party, but it kept many of the Christian superstitions alive. It also adds more folklore, without the harsh consequences of religious intolerance concerning folk practices, so these practices became renewed throughout this new land. Each group of immigrants brought with them, to America, the customs of their homeland, and these eclectic traditions, grew into an evening of celebrating the dead and showing appreciation for a good harvest.

Many German and Irish settlers brought with them their Celtic traditions, which kept the colorful festivals and honor of the dead in our historical roots in Pennsylvania. This holiday was also dubbed “Mischief Night” and provided the occasion for community parties. The first organized parade for Halloween was in 1921 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. To avoid pranks from youngsters, shopkeepers would bribe children with candy and treats. And where has that left us? With the tradition of prank-pulling and candy-giving throughout our country. So, take a minute and trace the roots of your ancestors, remembering them on this day of the dead. Give thanks for all you have by being aware of the roots of this custom, for it can be traced over the course of several centuries. We are all a part of our history.

—Information compiled from Halloween written by Silver RavenWolf, Llewellyn Publications, 1999.

The Class From the Crypt: An interview with Dr. Wendy Carse

by Claudette Dolan

Well, that chill is coming into the air, and soon the trees will be showing us their fall wardrobe. And, as all of us here settle into the fall semester, I’m sure many will agree that one of the spookiest places on campus after dark is the interior of Leonard Hall. If you creep through its nighttime silence, though, I don’t think you will find too many monsters, but then, one never knows with Dr. Wendy Carse around.

I had the opportunity to interview our director of the English B.A. program about one of the most sought after classes on campus—her LS 499 Identity in Horror Literature course, which she has been teaching for six years now.

Dr. Carse told me that so many students are “dying” to get into this class that she has to turn away at least as many students as she has signed up for her section every time she offers it. In this spooky liberal studies section, students have the opportunity to explore questions concerning identity within the horror genre. Dr. Carse says that for her “horror lit begins with, not ends with, the whole idea of othering--what we mean by the other and how that shifts to the idea of the grotesque.”

She told me that her favorite issue in the realm of this study of the genre is “one that has made feminists most uncomfortable with the genre”: the idea of “woman as monster..” She says that “monstrosity is most often tied to what woman is in man’s fear and anxiety, and at the same time there is a power that that woman monster has.” A couple of film representations of the female monster that Dr. Carse finds interesting are, The Hunger,, which stars Catherine Denevue and David Bowie, and The Brood, which is directed by David Cronenberg. In The Hunger, Denevue and Bowie “are kind of quintessential vampires who seduce, and I do mean seduce . . . The whole idea of the vampire fascinates me, although, putting a finger on a great fear of men is David Cronenberg’s The Brood {a movie} in which a woman gives birth without any sexual intercourse. It’s basically with her own fears and childhood anxieties {she gives birth to} the brood of little monsters who kill . . .Her husband is just so horrified that, of course, he has to kill her. So many of these films have to do with procreation attention, which is, of course, what Frankenstein is all about.” And this is just a taste of what types of materials students will encounter in her class, and hopefully, will continue to encounter even more in the future of IUP English. Dr. Carse is going on a sabbatical next fall to work on studies in film, which she hopes will lead to the inclusion of an English major with an emphasis in film studies.

All of this interest in the horror genre can be traced back to Dr. Carse’s doctoral dissertation—“’Flesh and Blood Was Not Made for Such Impalements’: Domestic Ideology in Victorian Gothic Short Fiction.” Her work in this endeavor dealt primarily with the idea of the “marginalized short story.” I learned that “the short story didn’t come along until the latter part of the century. Therefore, even the authors of short stories didn’t even refer to them as anything important.” Dr. Carse informed me that the authors of the time, such as George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, then turned to “the Gothic, the downright supernatural,” because, during its heyday, this more sinister type of writing was also marginalized. She even incorporates some of the intriguing ideas from her dissertation into her class.

So, after being deeply immersed in horror lit for such an extensive span of time, I wondered if Dr. Carse, who said she doesn’t frighten easily, ever was spooked by the eeriness of walking across campus after sundown. “Now, that’s real life!” she exclaimed, “Real life I find frightening, but I think that’s pretty much true of anybody who loves the genre.”

Dr. Carse, who teaches the Women’s Studies course, Feminist Theories, with Susan Comfort, invites all students to join their class on Halloween, Tuesday, October 31 at 1:15 for a discussion of horror topics, including “female audiences and horror films.” Brenda Mitchell’s Into to Women’s Studies class will be there, so come have a frighteningly good time with everyone! The location will be room 256, Stouffer Hall. If you are a fan of the horror genre and still need to take your senior synthesis class, I would give this one some serious consideration—that is unless you scare easily!

Trick or Treat Safety

by Claudette Dolan

Well, it’s almost time again for the bones to rattle and the witches to take flight. And this means, for all of you students and faculty with little ones, that you must brave another year of Halloween perils. What’s that? You say you didn’t know that such a fun experience could come with many dangers? Unfortunately, like everything enjoyable in life, Halloween trick-or-treating is not without its potential pitfalls. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has a whole section of their webpage devoted to dangers other than those that go bump in the night. You can, of course, visit their webpage at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/100.html, which will give you all the information you need for the year’s scariest of nights, but for your convenience, I will highlight some of their suggestions here:

  • NEVER let children eat treats until all candy is examined by an adult.
  • Be sure to purchase flame resistant costumes (it should appear on the costume’s label).
  • Make sure the costume design allows for safe visibility and movement (see illustration below).
  • Young children should be accompanied by an adult or older sibling.
  • Caution children to use the sidewalk and refrain from entering the street from between parked cars.
  • Encourage trick-or-treating at the homes of neighbors your family is familiar with, where a welcoming porch light is glowing.
  • Remember to dress children warmly, against the chilly night air.
  • Make sure that children know they should never enter the home or car of a stranger or unfamiliar acquaintance.

So, before your little goblins go out to gather the anxiously awaited goodies of Halloween, refer to the list above.

Fangs for the Memories: My Eerie Obsession with Dracula

by Claudette Dolan

Almost everyone has a favorite movie monster, right? My little brother loves Frankenstein, while my son is more of a Crypt Keeper kind of guy. Me, I LOVE Dracula, well actually, any vampire will do. I can’t remember a time, even when I was little, that I wasn’t reading every vampiric story that I could get my hands on, worrying my mother at times, I must admit. She really got scared when I started asking if there were any way that I could become a vampire, as if this were a good thing. But, hey, even as a child I could see the perks in immortality coupled with eternal youth and incredible physical strength (my brother was beating me up quite a lot those days). While I was seeing the glitz and glamour that life as Drac-ette could bring me, my mother saw visions of demons who were afraid of the holy symbol of the cross, damned for all eternity in their bloodlust. My Southern-Baptist-Mother placed my beloved horror stories on the highest shelf in the house where she was certain they were not further accessible. Of course, a tree-climber since I had been in diapers, this only led to much scrambling to the top the bookshelf, as well as depleting many a battery in my father’s flashlight (he thought he kept buying defective packs of them) under the cover of flower-print bedspread.

This obsession with the king of the undead didn’t wane as I grew older, either. When the Francis Ford Coppola production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula came to the theaters, I was overjoyed, enough to see it several times, and yes, I do own my own copy on VHS. It is a given that I love Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles” and have read them all.

The allure of vampires even saw its way into my work done for my English degree at IUP. In my research writing class, I “dug up” some facts on where exactly the vampire myth originated. I wrote a story about a vampire rabbit for my Teaching Writing course (and this was before I had ever even heard of Bunnicula). Right now, in my Bibliographical Methods course, I am compiling a critical history of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is turning out to be fascinating, as well as creepy. I have also experimented with vampiric poetry, trying to imagine how a poem would come out if written by someone who went through such a dark experience. Many of them deal with the tension that exists between a fledgling, or brand new vampire, and her creator, whom she calls “maker.” I made a whole, little booklet of them for Barbara Kraszewski’s poetry class a few semesters ago. One of them follows for your perusal. If you love vampires too, I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and don’t forget, if the vampire’s life isn’t for you, it would probably be a good idea to wear a thick scarf when you venture out on Halloween Night!

First Meal

Wary, apprehensive, as maker holds
The young man down.
“Go on.” at first gently.
Then, “Go on, damn you!”
Nausea rises as I blanket him.
Smell of copper where maker opened him up.
The scent inspires desire.
I feel my fangs slide through gum,
Descending Death.
“Oh God, I can’t.” rolls far away
in some room within my mind.
But hunger throbs like hearbeat
once did.
The flesh of his neck
consistency of melted butter.
The hollows within those porcelain points
draw the liquid with ease,
As the flame draws the candlefly.
I drown in richness,
Delirious taste.
“Stop now, you must stop!”
I hear from miles away.
But already the taste grows bitter
like grounds at the bottom of the coffee pot.
As I pull myself out of the ecstasy,
and his jugular,
Death’s revulsion breathes full into my face,
And I lose my stomachful of blood upon the snow.
The span of my existence
glares at me with crimson face.

—Claudette Dolan

It’s Your Vote: Use it Wisely!

by Jessica Donald

Many women suffered and died for our right to vote, but college-aged people (18-24), are conspicuously absent from the polls at election time. We are part of that group, and many of us think that one vote will not do anything to change our nation. It is our future, but if you we do not make that minute run to the post office to get registered and that whole five minutes of your day to vote for a candidate, you will not be able to take hold of where our country is heading. An informed voter is an even better asset. So, here are some issues that concern us, and how each candidate views these issues.

GORE

  • Abortion:Strongly Pro-choice
  • Affirmative Action: supports current affirmative action laws, supports Hate Crime Prevention Act
  • Crime/Violence: three day waiting period, one gun a month, requiring child safety locks
  • Economy: will maintain fiscal discipline, use surplus to fund Social Security and Medicare, increase funding to education and research
  • Education: supports making federal funds to state and local districts more flexible, supports state accountability, supports school choice program
  • Family: strengthen child support enforcement, increase federal funds for day care providers, Head Start centers, schools, and food stamp offices
  • Health Care: continue funding for Medicare, add prescription drug benefits

NADER

  • Abortion: Pro-choice
  • Affirmative Action: not available
  • Crime/Violence: child safety locks and one gun a month
  • Economy: spend surplus on rebuilding our nation-main priorities are poverty and preventive health care for all
  • Education:take commercialism out of classrooms, focus on democratic principles and citizenship in schools, look at civic and consumer education, invest in education of K-12 that will reduce poverty
  • Family: urges families to take their children back from the television, feels that families are separated from children because of television and commercialism
  • Health Care: feels health care is a universal right to all

BUSH

  • Abortion: Pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of mother, supports restrictions on parental notification, no use of taxpayer funds for abortion, ban on partial birth abortions
  • Affirmative Action: opposes quotas and racial preferences, support affirmative “access” to open doors to those who graduate top 10% of class, opposes same sex marriage
  • Crime/Violence: supports Constitutional right to bear arms, supports banning juveniles from possession of semi-automatic “assault” weapons, supports increasing the minimum age for possession of a handgun from 18 to 21
  • Economy: reduction in marginal tax to 10%, 15%, 33% double per child, tax credit to $1,000, eliminate death tax, restore 10% tax to married couples
  • Education:supports testing of grades 3-8 for level of education
  • Family: not available
  • Health Care: supports more private sector choices for elderly, supports medical savings account

BUCHANAN

  • Abortion: Pro-Life, believes life begins at conception, stop funding for groups such as Planned Parenthood, UNFPA, and fetal tissue research; supports efforts to extend civil rights to unborn children
  • Affirmative Action: opposes affirmative action, quotas or set asides for any affirmative action group
  • Crime/Violence: fully supports the right to bear arms for law-abiding citizens
  • Economy: supports exempting the first $35,000 of income from federal then reduce the taxes on the remainder to a flat 16% rate
  • Education: not available
  • Family: advocates renewed emphasis on traditional values and morality in America and would use the Presidency to advance such a principle, believes country is engaged in a “cultural war” between people of faith and secularists
  • Health Care: supports catastrophic health care coverage at a low premium to all Americans, opposes comprehensive national health care system administered by the federal government

Museings

by Brenda Mitchell

An AMUSEing Women’s Times Book Review:

Entropy and the Politics of Molecular Liberation Occurring in Office Moves, Public Programs, and Core Courses in the Parallel University: Case Studies~A Handbook for Women’s Studies Faculty

Women share their experiences in Women’s Studies in the New Millennium and discover that they are no longer living on Planet Earth. Madcap escapades recounted in this rollicking good read. Hilarious!!~Luna Thicke, contributing editor, These Dysfunctional Times

What you’ll read about in this book:

  • How women become divided. For example, a program with 875 “whole” students has a 25% secretary, a 25% work-study student, a 50% graduate assistant, a 50% director, and 0% ongoing provisions for teaching its one required course.~Ushad B. McShamed
  • How files can’t be filed because file cabinet developed screw deficiency during office move, rendering it usefulness-challenged and differently abled. Currently focusing on remaining ability to hold up printer.~B. A. Mused
  • How moving from one building to another can result in no phone, no lights, no motor cars, no Gilligan, and no Professor.~Isit Justmie
  • How dead, white, male artist, Andy Warhol, rises from his grave every Halloween to paint the “Women’s Studies
    Student Computer Hard Drive Crash” series.~Hestére Iclée
  • How state-of-the-art video equipment essential to public program series can be delivered w/o remote control that ensures its ability to give visual form and audience access to videotape, which provides focus of public program. Help access denied due to closed office.~Izzy Anutt
  • See faculty risk life and limb pushing a cart loaded with slide projectors through streets and construction sites until rescued by a helpful student who assists in lifting the cart down stairs so that it can be wheeled into the building, which houses classroom, where no staff share space to park the small cart when not in use, until a sympathetic department chair finally gives permission for the faculty to temporarily borrow a key to a storage area.~Whehr A. Mye
  • How one must provide names and social security numbers of alumni so that one can obtain names and social security numbers of alumni.~Urpara Noid
  • How learning-challenged men can earn foreign language credits by taking women’s studies courses.~Y. Orchid Ng

Women Warriors: The Fight to Keep Women’s Studies Meaningful

An Editorial Revisited by Brenda Mitchell

While going through office files during our recent move to Gordon Hall, I came across this editorial by former Women’s Studies Director, Maureen McHugh. It’s certainly worth reviewing, since many of the same issues Maureen raised three years ago still remain unsolved. I like to think of Women’s Studies as belonging to the whole university and not just to one person, such as the Director, whomever she may be at any given time. Please think about what Women’s Studies means to YOU and what YOU can do for Women’s Studies. Send email to brmitche@grove.iup.edu. Thank you for all you have done to create, shape, and support Women’s Studies at IUP through the years.

“The Future of Women’s Studies and YOU”

As announced here, and in Senate, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes has been appointed (Interim) Director of Women’s Studies. I am genuinely pleased with this choice. I offer Cecilia congratulations, best wishes, and any assistance she might request.
Cecilia is interim while the administration considers changes to the program. Although pledging continued support, the administration has suggested that there may be less release time, and a different reporting structure for Women’s Studies in the future. They have indicated that they are awaiting our self-study as one piece of the planning puzzle. One planned initiative that the Provost has been clear about for the past two years is that all academic programs should report to the Provost Office through a Dean. This is a problem for a university-wide interdisciplinary program such as Women’s Studies. Reporting to a college dean would limit and constrain the Program. Thus, despite the fact that even with recent expansions in the Office of the Provost, there is no one in that office that is familiar with women’s studies (or gender issues, social equity issues, etc). We prefer to report to that office than to cut off our hands or feet to fit into any particular college. (A side note: Several years ago our small share of the educational service fee was taken from us by the Deans for this very same reason. All ESF moneys were to be allocated through the Deans. Since then the collection of videos on women that we were purchasing for university-wide use in the classroom has not been expanded.)

In preparation for the transition to a new director, the Women’s Studies Program undertook a self-study/program review. We are currently completing the draft of the report, and we will have the external evaluator visit campus in the spring. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the goals for the Program that have developed within the self-study. For each goal I have indicated some actions you might take to help us.

  • Expand resources and support for Women’s Studies. Indicate your support for WS in an email or note to the administration. Contact WS to discuss any ideas you have to obtain external funding for special initiatives.
  • Enlarge the number of WS courses. We are especially interested in the following: innovative summer courses; graduate courses; courses in fine arts; sciences; health-related areas; business; and education. Faculty interested in developing or teaching a women’s studies course are invited to call Cecilia at X4753 [that is also the current director, Brenda Mitchell’s, number].
  • Engage in gender balancing, feminist pedagogy and faculty development programs.
  • Recruit WS students/minors and increase the visibility of WS. We have already instituted a bookmark distribution, and we are in the process of developing a new brochure. We are actively involved in freshman orientation and in new faculty orientation. Share any ideas you have for public relations or marketing of the WS program. Assist us in notifying students and the public of our courses and programs.

These are just a few of the many ways you can assist Cecilia in the development and expansion of the WS Program. Thank you for the equally numerous ways in which you have assisted and supported me. I look forward to continuing to work with you as a colleague under Cecilia’s leadership.

—Maureen McHugh

National Coming Out Week

October 9-13 events

Monday, the 9th-6:00 o’clock series:
“Come out, come out wherever you are!”
Hub multi-Purpose Room

Tuesday, the 10th-8:00-10:00p.m.:
Beautiful thing-Movie
Eberly College of Business auditorium

Wednesday, the 11th-national coming out day!!! :
PFLAG PANEl-8:00 p.m.~
“coming out to parents”
Hub Multi-Purpose Room

Thursday, the 12th-8:30 P.m.
Free zone discussion
Hub Television Lounge

Friday, the 13th-9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.:
“Kick the door down” dance
$1.00 admission
Hub Multi-Purpose room
Drawings and prizes! Light Refreshments will be served!

Pride Alliance

Holds meetings every Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. in room 225 at the HUB. Please feel free to attend any or all of the events coming your way! Pride Alliance is a group of gays, lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals, and allies that creates a support system for all. We encourage you to check it out!!! Come on out of that closet! They will also have a table set up in the Hub during the week to answer any questions you may have!

Happy Halloween from all of us at women’s studies!!

  • Women’s Studies Program
  • Stabley Library, Room 103
    429 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-4753
  • Fax: 724-357-2281
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.