March 01, 2024

43rd Annual Gender Studies Symposium Focuses on Digital Technology and the Internet

This year’s Gender Studies Symposium will examine the ways in which digital technology, internet platforms, and online spaces have shaped and been shaped by understandings and expressions of gender and sexuality. The symposium runs from March 6 to 8.

Colorful graphic with black words Being Online and dates

by Mackenzie Kier BA ’26

How do gender and sexuality influence the ways we use the internet, social media, and digital technologies? How have online spaces been an outlet for self-expression and creativity around gender and sexuality? How do technologies like algorithms and artificial intelligence amplify, reinforce, challenge, or undermine gender biases, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia?

These are just some of the questions that will be explored during Lewis & Clark’s 43rd Annual Gender Studies Symposium, titled Being Online. The three-day, in-person event, held March 6 to 8, will examine gender, sexuality, and digital technologies by thinking about issues of work, leisure, sex, violence, family, privacy, activism, identity, self-expression, and more.

The symposium is organized by a trio of undergraduate student cochairs: Cameron Kalopsis BA ’24, Molly Gibbons BA ’24, and August van Nieuwenhuysen BA ’25. Kimberly Brodkin, associate professor with term of humanities, serves as the symposium’s director.

  • August posing outside. They are wearing glasses and a button up shirt.

    I am one of the cochairs for this year’s Gender Studies Symposium. I really appreciate how involved students are on all levels of symposium planning. It requires lots of dedicated teamwork, but seeing that symposium come to life after months of planning makes it all worth it.

    August van Nieuwenhuysen BA ’25
    Biology | Gender Studies | Tustin, California
    More about August
  • Cameron posing outside. She is wearing a colorful striped sweater.

    Working on the Gender Studies Symposium has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I feel so lucky to have gotten to play a part in bringing together such a meaningful and informative event.

    Cameron Kalopsis BA ’24
    Sociology and Anthropology | London, Ontario, Canada, and Glendale, California
    More about Cameron
  • Molly posing outside. She is wearing a long-sleeve green shirt.

    I am a cochair for the Gender Studies Symposium, and I always look forward to attending symposia events. I love learning from the keynote speakers and being able to support my peers and learn about their work.

    Molly Gibbons BA ’24
    History | Gender Studies and Hispanic Studies | Missoula, Montana
    More about Molly

Digital Spaces as a Thematic Focus

“The focus on Being Online emerged from a series of conversations the cochairs and I had this past summer about important topics, issues, and questions we wanted to take up,” says Brodkin. “In talking about activism, law, popular culture, sexual violence, and more, we decided it would be worthwhile to consider everything in connection with digital technologies, internet platforms, and online spaces.”

Kimberly Brodkin, director of the Gender Studies Symposium and associate professor with term of humanities Kimberly Brodkin, director of the Gender Studies Symposium and associate professor with term of humanities
Credit: Copyright, Steve Hambuchen
The richness of the topic was quickly apparent. “To me, this year’s theme is a reflection of the many possibilities the online world provides,” says cochair August van Nieuwenhuysen, a biology major and gender studies minor. “As human beings, we are full of paradox and contradiction, and the internet is no different. The platforms that connect people and foster community can also be used to further instigate hate and alienation. As a young trans person growing up alongside the internet, it often feels like I am being confronted with the full spectrum of human decency every time I log on. Being online is a multi-faceted experience and I am hopeful we were able to tap into that with this year’s theme.”

The organizers were also attracted to the theme due to its relevance to students. “The use of technology is so embedded into our daily lives as we study at L&C,” says cochair Molly Gibbons, a history major and gender studies and Hispanic studies double minor. “I think it is especially important that as students use these resources for our academic studies, we are mindful of the way that gender and sexuality as well as the internet and technology impact our academic work.”

Three students smiling at the camera outdoors with lots of trees with yellow leaves surrounding them. 2024 Gender Studies Symposium Cochairs
Credit: Nina Johnson
“I want this year’s theme to not only highlight how people shape online spaces, but also how online spaces shape our real world,” says cochair Cameron Kalopsis, a sociology and anthropology major. “We spend more and more time online, and it’s impossible for a lot of us to not be affected by these spaces and the discourse surrounding them.”

Symposium Highlights

This year’s schedule is jam-packed with activities. Here are a few highlights:

Two Keynotes Presentations

  • March 6: Avery Dame-Griff, a lecturer at Gonzaga University and author of The Two Revolutions: A History of the Transgender Internet, will present “When It Was Ours: A Queer and Trans Counterhistory of the Internet.”
  • March 7: Moya Bailey, associate professor at Northwestern University and author of Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance, will present “What Are Gender and Sexuality in the World We Want?”

Alum’s One-Person Musical

March 7: Guests are invited to attend A Shark Ate My Penis: A History of Boys Like Me, a one-person musical written and performed by Laser Webber BA ’10. The musical won Best World Premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, as well as the Sydney Fringe exchange award.

Two Workshops

Celebration of Synergia Student Journal

March 6: This event will celebrate the release of the newly revitalized student publication Synergia: The Journal of Gender Thought and Expression. This is the first new issue since 2019.

Community Dialogue: Being Online

March 6, 7, and 8: The symposium’s Community Dialogue sessions will offer an opportunity for small, structured conversation around these questions: What do you gain and what do you lose in your experiences with social media? What hopes do you hold when you engage with social media? Are there consequences to your use of social media that leave you unsettled in some ways?

Art Show

The symposium will include an art show on display in the Watzek Library atrium from March 6 until spring break, as well as an online gallery (link will be posted on the symposium website by March 6). The art show is curated by Isha Elboctorcy BA ’24, McKenna Jones BA ’24, and Cecily Munster BA ’26.

Gender Studies Symposium Gender Studies