March 01, 2023

42nd Annual Gender Studies Symposium Focuses on Science and Medicine

This year’s Gender Studies Symposium will explore the ways that science and medicine intersect with gender and sexuality to create knowledge, establish authority, and shape policy. The symposium runs from March 8-10.

42nd annual Gender Studies Symposium cochairs (left to right): Sofia Reeves BA '23, Julia Salomone BA '23, Eli Bricknell BA '23... 42nd annual Gender Studies Symposium cochairs (left to right): Sofia Reeves BA ’23, Julia Salomone BA ’23, Eli Bricknell BA ’23

Photo credit: Nina Johnson

by Mackenzie Kier BA ’26

In what ways has science shaped our interpretations of different kinds of bodies? How does scientific knowledge affirm or challenge understandings of gender and sexuality? How have racialized concepts of gender and sexuality been produced through scientific research and medical practice?

The theme of the 42nd annual Gender Studies Symposium is Bodies of Knowledge: Gender, Sex, Science, and Medicine. These are just some of the questions that will be explored during Lewis & Clark’s 42nd Annual Gender Studies Symposium, titled Bodies of Knowledge: Gender, Sex, Science, and Medicine. The three-day event, held March 8 to 10, will examine how people experience science and medicine in relation to gender and sexuality, especially as these themes are currently highly politicized in the media and elsewhere.

The symposium’s jam-packed three-day schedule includes two keynote speakers, three workshops, nine panels, a poetry reading, and an art show. All scheduled events will take place in person, with the Wednesday keynote presentation also available for remote viewing (see the symposium website for details).

The symposium is organized by a trio of undergraduate student cochairs: Eli Bricknell BA ’23, Sofia Reeves BA ’23, and Julia Salomone BA ’23. Kimberly Brodkin, associate professor with term of humanities, serves as the symposium’s director.

  • Sofia Reeves BA '23

    I think every student at Lewis & Clark can get something special from one of the student-led symposia, either by attending or being a part of organizing the event. There is knowledge to be gained for every person who attends the symposium.

    Sofia Reeves BA ’23
    Biology | Gender Studies | Sacramento, California
    More about Sofia
  • Eli Bricknell BA '23

    I am a cochair for this year’s Gender Studies Symposium. I had only attended the events before, so this is my first year in a leadership role. I am really thankful we have so many amazing symposia at L&C!

    Eli Bricknell ’24
    Sociology and Anthropology | Gender Studies | Seattle, Washington; Kalamazoo, Michigan
    More about Eli
  • Julia Salomone BA '23

    I am currently the cochair of the Gender Studies Symposium. Chairing the symposium while simultaneously writing my thesis on reproductive health has empowered me to look beyond the classroom and explore my interests further.

    Julia Salomone BA ’23
    Environmental Studies | Gender Studies | Parkland, Florida
    More about Julia

The symposium’s focus on science and medicine emerged during the group’s planning sessions last spring and summer. “A lot of things were on our minds, especially reproductive justice and anti-trans legislation,” said Brodkin. “We wanted this year’s symposium to provide a context and framework for thinking about those issues.”

Bricknell, a sociology and anthropology major and gender studies minor, agrees that the event highlights issues that are relevant to gender-focused health care and access to care. “I have been very lucky to have some amazing people in my life who have supported me with finding care during my transition. I would like to extend some of that support back to my community.”

The symposium’s theme also resonates with Salomone, an environmental studies major and gender studies minor. “As a young woman hoping to enter the public health field professionally, the intersection of science, medicine, and gender could not feel more important to me,” she said. Gendered perceptions of science and medicine affect every aspect of our lives, and I can’t wait to hear the conversations the symposium prompts.”

This year’s symposium features two keynote presentations:

Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson Dr. Jules Gill-PetersonWednesday, March 8: Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson, an associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins University, as well as an award-winning author, will present “Transition and Abortion as Vernacular Medicine.”

Thursday, March 9: Dr. Dána-Ain Davis, professor of urban studies and anthropology at Queens College and author of Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth, will present “Black Anti-bodies and the Repercussions of Obstetric Racism.”

“I am most excited for Dr. Dana-Aín Davis’s keynote,” said Reeves, a biology major and gender studies minor. “I hope to learn a lot from hearing Davis speak on the intersection of race and gender for Black bodies in medicine throughout history.”

Dr. Dána-Ain Davis Dr. Dána-Ain DavisThis year’s symposium also includes three workshops: Lovely Letters: Healing from Gender Dysphoria and Sexual Trauma, facilitated by Lee Hinkle BA ’24; Narrative Medicine: Stories of Gender, Illness, and Health, facilitated by Edie Tavel BA ’22 and Alexis Rehrmann, community engagement coordinator in L&C’s Center for Community and Global Health; and Movement as Medicine, facilitated by Susan Davis, senior lecturer in theatre and head of dance, and Eric Nordstrom, visiting instructor of dance.

On March 9, as part of a full menu of other activities, guests are invited to attend The Vernacular Possibility of Transmasculine Representation: A Conversation about the award-winning series BROTHERS. This event will be moderated by Melanie Kohnen, associate professor of rhetoric and media studies, and will feature Mal Spicer BA ’23; Emmett Jack Lundberg, creator, director, and producer; and Sheyam Ghieth, director and producer.

This year’s art show, curated by Anika Bednar BA ’23, Burton Scheer BA ’25, and Sascha Tappan BA ’25, encourages viewers to reflect on their own and others’ experiences around gender, science and medicine. The exhibit is designed to spark conversations around questions such as, “How do we stay conscious of the disparate treatment of bodies?” and “How do our relationships with our bodies inform our creative processes?” The exhibit will be on display in Watzek Library’s atrium through April 3 and will include an online gallery (watch the symposium website for a link).

The 42nd annual Gender Studies Symposium promises to be a robust event. “Our theme is important to the L&C community because scientific and medical knowledge, especially as they relate to sex and gender, permeate our lives on a daily basis,” said Reeves. “By seeking to understand this reality—and opening ourselves up to hear about and learn from current research in these fields as well as individual experiences—we all become more informed and compassionate.”

Gender Studies Symposium Gender Studies