Sheila Farr, Aishah Alreshoud, and Lauren Shoemaker—all three of whom are graduate students in the IUP Literature and Criticism PhD Program—and Susan Comfort of the IUP Department of English presented papers as part of a feminist panel titled “Engaging Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Theoretical and Literary Interventions” at the 2014 Pennsylvania College English Association (PCEA) Conference in State College, Pa., on October 3.
Their four papers ranged from a discussion of western fairy tales to analyses of specific literary works of Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and African literature. Each of them examined selected literature and popular culture for insights into the ways that oppressions of gender and sexuality are tied to the control of labor and the environment.
Sheila Farr analyzed the persistent “demonization of women” in fairy tales from Grimm’s versions in the early 19th century to the 20th century and contemporary Disney films, suggesting that the negative gender imagery is tied to the devaluation of women’s labor by state and economic forces.
Aishah Alreshoud looked at representations of women in Abdelrahman Munif’s Cities of Salt, the first novel in Munif’s epic quintet on the 20th-century oil exploitation in the Middle East.
Lauren Shoemaker’s paper sought “to route” queer ecological thinking in transnational feminism through an analysis of Trinidadian writer Dionne Brand’s novel In Another Place, Not Here.
And, finally, Comfort examined the theory and activism of contemporary feminist political ecology, specifically situating the 2006 Abuja Declaration for Energy Sovereignty, an important document in the battle for climate justice in Nigeria, in a history of postcolonial feminist resistance literature.
Department of English