Women, Gender, and Sexuality Senior Integrated Projects

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This collection includes Senior Integrated Projects (SIPs, formerly known as Senior Individualized Projects) completed in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Concentration. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff. If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email us at dspace@kzoo.edu to request access to a SIP.

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 32
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    The Process-Utopian Method for Feminist Praxis : Exploring Examples within Abolition and Decolonial Feminist Theory
    (2023-06-01) Waldron, Elle M.
    This project began with the initial question: what does feminist praxis look like outside of academia? Praxis is defined as "the process of using a theory or something that you have learned in a practical way." It can also be characterized as having an understanding of how action and theory shape one another. Feminist praxis follows the same definition as praxis above but is also distinguished by "the process of moving from feminist values into actions based on those values." I define feminist praxis as the actions, thought-processes, and relationships formed with the intention of recognizing the way that gender and sexuality structure society and culture and interact with other systems of oppression, combined with an attempt to create new systems and worlds. In this SIP, I argue that process utopian methods are a form of feminist praxis that are represented in socio-cultural space and accompanying material conditions of specific sites. A process-utopian method is an approach to creating new worlds and systems which centers the continuous development of these new systems and processes over a goal. Process-utopias are the imagining of a new system or world that emphasizes the skills and experiences gained while reaching for that goal rather than the goal itself. This is demonstrated by the versatile and varied examples investigated in this SIP which are framed using the Abolition Feminist Transformative Justice Framework and Decolonial Feminist Theory. These demonstrations include the following case study examples of process utopian methods and my personal reflection on their application: a redefinition of citizenship, The Combahee River Collective (then and now), spatial tagging, the Nhanga method, and the Palestinian Feminist Collective 2023 calendar.
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    Entitled, “Folk Art”
    (2022-11-01) Bailey, Jenna; Hahn, Christine G., 1962-
    American folk art is the heart of this project. Separated into five sections, the topic of folk art is explored through the lens of history, contextual analysis, an in-depth look at a handful of folk artists, folk art outside of the United States, and a look at collectors and the role of collecting in the construction of folk art as a category. What I aim to answer throughout is the question; what is folk art? Before beginning this project, I knew of the category but nothing about its parameters or the people who create under the label. This project utilizes multiple frameworks including formal analysis, social theory, gender theory, in hopes of developing a lens on folk art that is cognizant of the impact of colonial language and capitalist influence. This paper considers the economic and social identities of artists in the folk art field and the impact those demographics have on the success of folk art in terms of monetary value, educational studies, and publicity or popularity in mainstream artistic aesthetics in the United States.
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    Irreal History
    (2021-11-01) Henning, Caleb; Butler, Ann Marie
    Part essay, part art, and part interactive, https://irrealhistory.com is a cyberspace deep dive into irreality. Best described as possible worlds, irreality is the space between the real, material world and the unreal, fictional world. Largely inspired by writer André Aciman’s book Homo Irrealis: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2021), this project massively expands the concept of the irreal to support frameworks of experience, language, and creation in a hope to reach a larger conception of the human experience. Through this massive expansion of the irreal, this website explores the topics of historical methods, aesthetic evaluation, confessions, autobiography, ancestry, and dream experiences. The format of irrealhistory.com mimics the magazine. From its combinations of text, art, and interactives to its front-page menus, this collection works as an ode to the magazine. Though the magazine may seem like a strange choice to take stylistic cues from, it’s my belief that the magazine beautifully captures both highly readable language and dreamy, irreal aesthetics in one seamless form. It’s certainly one of modernity’s most effective communication tools. As such, the essays in this collection should be thought of like the articles of a magazine, all loosely related through a common theme but for the most part distinct and separate. While some of the articles are absolutely academic—referencing other works and using argumentative words—other articles are utterly intimate. Caught between the requirements of the university and the ideal of the magazine, this collection blurs the boundary between academics and pop culture. Many of the ideas presented here could’ve been said in different words and phrasings. I could’ve used the comparable philosophy term modality or the psychoanalytic imaginary or any number of post-structuralist third terms. I’ve chosen irreality because it directly places itself as something between the real and the unreal. It’s a queer word. It exists only as a slippage, as something to capture what real and unreal don’t, as something that gathers up the leftovers between this false binary. The irreal is the discarded and ejected contents of a world that demands materiality and real results. It’s the time wasted in daydreams and spent asleep in vivid dreamscapes. It’s the lost time of thinking about the “shoulda coulda woulda” of our lives. It’s the laziness of reading magazines instead of “real books.” It’s the spacy, in-the-cloud moments. It’s the unproductive. It’s magazine scraps glued together. It’s anxiety and fear. It’s make-believe, pretending, and imagination. It’s childish and inauthentic. Always in a state of what might have been and what still might be, the irreal is constantly stuck. The irreal’s bad reputation, however, is simply the hearsay of the real world. The material world, try as it may, can’t oust the irreal it so desperately seeks to eliminate because irreality is intrinsic to the human condition. It’s natural to our experience, integrated in the way we speak, and the very essence of creation. Constantly rejected but undoubtedly un-rejectable, the irreal is a queer thing. Throughout this collection, I work in earnest to show irreality as anything but its perceived poor character. Despite its current standing, the irreal is an immensely powerful world for the production of knowledge, for the creation of meaning, and for the sheer enjoyment of life in its fullest capacities. The irreal is the soul of the future and the backbone of ancestry. Unfortunately, the work here can never fully capture irreality. It’s something that must be experienced, lived, and embodied. It’s something that resists words and favors sensation and emotion. It’s wholly personal. Nonetheless, in sharing my own irreality through personal narratives and artworks, I hope that the impact of the irreal translates so that you may see the emancipatory potential of this queer tool.
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    Becoming "Her Woman" : Queerness, Style, and Lesbian Community in 1920s and 1950s America
    (2022-11-01) Cadieux, Abigail M.; Boyer Lewis, Charlene M., 1965-
    Personal style is an embodiment of one's self-understanding; fashion brings the social dimensions of gender, sexuality, and class to life in our possessions and clothes, on our skin. Fashion is one of Western society's oldest means of social organization which follows a strict code of gendered norms. In a visual world, dressing against the codified gender norms can be a social risk; clothes adorn and define people. The visual norms that define dress are incredibly powerful and, therefore, rarely allow one to withdraw from a culture's accepted ways of dressing. Analyzing past fashions allows us to understand the multitude of sartorial choices required for safety, conformity, and self-expression in a given time period. Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, clothing increasingly divided women from men, the wealthy from the impoverished, and the conformists from the rebels. The history of women's fashion in the United States, particularly over the course of these two centuries, can be viewed in the form of shifting embodiments of femininity. For American women in the twentieth century, norms of dressing often presumed a gendered image that upheld femininity and, ultimately, heteronormativity. The visual language of fashion can make aspects of one's personality, previously unseen, highly visible in the material world. Norms of dressing have long been interpreted as the critical markers upholding the gender binary. Gender theorist Judith Butler firmly characterizes gender as a performance-that gender is actually something that we do, externally, in the contexts of our day-to-day lives. The realm of performance necessitates the appropriate costume-dressing the part of "woman" is a crucial aspect of adhering to the preconceived binary coherence of female sex and womanness. This thesis will employ a Butlerian perspective on the formative role of clothing in reflecting one's gender and self-identity, especially in women's negotiation of displayed queerness. The culmination of a material essence, or self, becomes one of the most significant ways gender gets its bearings in the visual world; it is constructively defined, externally situated, and constantly changing through personal style. The performance, then, requires an active curation of one's personhood as it literally is displayed in the world. Unconventional sartorial choices perform the work of making the self known and challenging hegemonic fashions. Uniquely navigating fashion choices is a hallmark of historical queer positionality. One's personal style is a landscape for negotiating queer self-evidence in the material world, opening up opportunities for both community and ostracization. In varying degrees throughout the twentieth century, the subversion of sartorial norms carried the heavy threat of harassment and even physical violence for those who dared to stand out. Still, the social implications around choosing how to display ourselves put us into direct conversation with each other in the visual sense-a language that underscores every aspect of American society. The pursuit of "seeing" gender is a paradoxical and often problematic endeavor; no style or cut of cloth absolutely signifies one's identity or lack thereof. However, gender identity manifests in the material world most often through personal style, as it is a continually shifting, external aspect of self-identity. Queer fashion analysis draws attention to the purposeful forms of embodiment from those on the liminality of gender and sexuality who wished to take license over their presentation. Queer-coded styles have long performed the work of covertly signaling one's identity within homophobic societies that erase queerness and shove people into "closets." Viewing women's fashion through a queer lens proves its complicated nature; while feminine ways of dressing provide women with agency and endless forms of self-expression, the male gaze and gender essential ism influence a significant amount of the display. The co-creation of gender and sexuality as they uniquely manifest for queer women complicates their world of sartorial choices. What does it mean to be perceptibly queer for people who identify as women? This work will consider queer women's navigation of personal style in community during two paradoxical, formative moments in the twentieth century: the 1920s and 1950s. The two decades-one a zenith of bohemianism and one of postwar conservatism-are moments of reckoning in American history with values around gender, sexuality, lifestyle, and fashion.
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    Their Own Legal Category : State Surveillance as a Means of Criminalizing Pregnant People
    (2022-11-01) Davis-Rodak, Emma; Fong, Ryan, 1980-
    This project examines the state surveillance and consequential criminalization of pregnant people. It begins by investigating a set of laws and procedures that apply only to pregnant people in agreement with Grace Elizabeth Howard’s assertion that pregnant people constitute their own legal category, demonstrated through personal stories by criminalized pregnant people. The second section discusses surveillance practices currently weaponized against people of color in the United States that may soon be used to criminalize pregnant people for having abortions. The project concludes by discussing why a complete reliance on the law is insufficient for the protection of abortion in America. It details how a legalistic framework often leaves behind those who are the most vulnerable to criminalization and finishes by suggesting an abolitionist lens and a focus on radical love and mutual aid.
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