By Dr. Liz Mackay

In just one week, over 400 feminists—academic scholars, activists, and advocates—from across
the nation will arrive on the University of Dayton’s campus, when the 2017 Feminisms and
Rhetorics Conference
convenes from October 4 -7 at the UD River Campus (1700 Building). Importantly, this conference (FemRhets, for short) will celebrate its 20th anniversary at UD by focusing on three themes (“Rhetorics, Rights, and Revolution(s)” while also marking a new milestone since its inception: notably, this is the first time that FemRhets will take place on a Catholic university campus. It is the first national conference of this great scope that UD will host.

FemRhets is a national academic conference that, in its first several years, drew scholars from
rhetoric/composition programs. As it has grown in scope, it has become an interdisciplinary conference for scholars working in a wide variety of areas and fields of study, including art, film studies, health and medical sciences, digital media, and much more. It should be no surprise that many of our own university faculty will participate in the conference as presenters, volunteers, organizers, and advocates; not just as advocates for feminist scholarship, but also as they demonstrate UD’s scholarly excellence and the university’s Marianist missions for social justice and community.

UD’s planning committee is based in the English Department, and its members include Dr. Margaret Strain, Dr. Elizabeth Mackay, and Dr. Patrick Thomas. This committee has been working and planning tirelessly for two years and is counting down the days until the conference convenes on campus. The committee is planning a number of exciting events and plenary sessions that both align with the traditions of this conference and showcase UD’s academic programs and the university’s missions, as well as bringing in some local Dayton community members and outreach programs.

We are especially proud to feature Claudia Rankine, Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University and 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, as our keynote speaker.

There are two exciting evening events for conference attendees. First, we have collaborated with Roesch Library, University Archives, and the Rose Rare Book Collection for a reception on Wednesday, October 4, where we will feature a number of hand-selected books, treatises, and artifacts marking the role that Rhetorics, Rights, and (R)evolutions have played in human history. For this event, Dean Kathy Webb has purchased the second American edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, from which we draw the event title, “It is Time to Effect a Revolution.” We’ve also planned a reception for Thursday, October 5 at the Dayton Art Institute which will feature some of our UD students, who have put together a fantastic program, including a number of songs by women composers and songwriters.

To learn more about various events and sessions taking place during the conference, or to find out how to register on site, please visit the conference website.
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