Women's and Gender Studies film series continues in November with The Joy Luck Club

Providing education on important issues through film, a project begun in September by Fort Hays State University's Women and Gender Studies Program will continue in November with The Joy Luck Club.

The films, which will be introduced by members of the Women's and Gender Studies Committee, will examine various issues facing women today, including gender, race, culture, professions and disabilities. The films are free of charge and open to the public. All films are scheduled for 7 p.m. in Albertson Hall, room 169.

Dr. Jan Wilson, director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and committee member, said this is the first time that this program has ever attempted a film series.

The films were selected by six of the nine members of the committee, who will each introduce a movie and field questions at the conclusion.

"They chose movies that spoke to issues of women and gender and also were meaningful to them," said Wilson.

She said they typically chose films that were related to their discipline or their interests.

Wilson will introduce The Joy Luck Club on Nov. 11. She said this film is about the lives of three generations of Chinese-American women and the racism they faced, which varies, she said, significantly from the racism that African-American women faced.

Dr. Albert Geritz, chair of the Department of English and professor of English, will present Welcome to the Doll's House on Feb. 10. This film explores the issues that surround the confinement of domestic life. It looks at how women attempt to break out of the choices that have been made for them when it comes to marriage and family.

Dr. Harriet Caplan, instructor of management and marketing, will show Silkwood on March 9. This movie, with its theme of women and work, is in conjunction with Women's History Month. Silkwood is about a woman who tries to start a union at the nuclear power plant where she works. It is based on a true story of a woman who many believe was deliberately contaminated with radioactive material by those who wanted to stop her work.

Amy Schmierbach, assistant professor of art, will present Frida on April 13. It is based on a true story of a woman who expresses her creativity, her life and her feelings through her paintings, which were all self-portraits. This film looks into the issue of disabilities. The main character, who was in a train accident as a teen, is permanently disabled.

The first film, Sept. 30, was Muriel's Wedding, introduced by Dr. Dan Kumala, assistant professor of English. It explored the pressure that society puts on women to fulfill traditional roles, such as marriage and childbirth. In this comedy, the lead character ends up rejecting this role.

Dr. Jane Peterson, associate professor of nursing, presented The Color Purple, based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, that looks at gender and race. It is a story about the struggle and survival of African-American women who lived in the Jim Crow south. It was shown Oct. 14.

"The Color Purple is a painful examination of how gender and race intersect in women's lives and how that intersection shaped women's experiences," said Wilson.

Wilson said the purpose of the film series is to raise awareness about issues facing women today through a different type of medium.

"I think there are so many interesting themes of gender and race that our program addresses," she said. "And it's one thing to read about it in the text, but it's another to see this actually captured in this kind of medium."

She said films are a great addition to classroom material.

"With students being raised in a visual age, the films are going to capture their interest and attention in ways that written work cannot," she said.

The future of the Women's and Gender Studies film series is indefinite, said Wilson. It depends on how many people come out to see the films. The first film attracted about 10 people, but Wilson attributes the low attendance to short notice.

"Hopefully we'll have a better turnout at subsequent movies," she said.

In addition to educating people on the importance of women's issues, Wilson said, the film series also gives her a chance to promote the Women's and Gender Studies Program, which is still new to FHSU.

"We're not only educating through the movies, but we're advertising our program as well," she said.

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