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“Fun with Dick and Jane” sets the Theme for 2009-2010
WGS Programming
The Women’s and Gender Studies program is excited to announce a common theme that
will provide a subtle link across all of our events this year: “Fun with Dick and Jane,”
based on the Dick and Jane books by William S. Gray. Dr. Hephzibah Roskelly came up
with the theme and explains that “there are relatively few events
this year, so we wanted to loosely connect them to a theme where
participants can see a continuum and different perspectives across
events.” She also likes using Dick and Jane as a theme for opening
discussion of learning literacy and how people learn to play the roles they are offered,
and how they redesign those roles. She uses this year’s WGS
Common Read as an example, stating, “Drowning in Fire is
about how one young man learns to perform a man’s role
in a tribe and how he breaks free from that role.” She also
pointed out how the Love Your Body Week salon “Are Men
the Weaker Sex?” was a discussion about gender roles and
expectations. Dr. Roskelly also tied the Dick and Jane theme to You Don’t Know
Dick, a film about transgendered men that WGS will screen in February. The
film exemplifies the breaking of socially-sanctioned, “appropriate” roles. Dr. Roskelly hopes that the
Dick and Jane theme will foster discussions of race, class, and gender and the way roles play into these
issues, including the ways in which society has “updated” these roles.
2009-10 WGS Common Read: Drowning in Fire
The 2009-10 oW men’s and Gender’s Studies Common Read novel, Drowning in Fire by Craig oW mack,
is about Josh, a young boy growing up inside the Muskogee Creek Nation in rural Oklahoma who feels
out of place and ashamed because of his attraction to other boys. Josh struggles to reconcile conflicting
messages of sin and shame from his parents’ non-Indian Christian church with poignant, powerful
stories he hears from older Creek relatives, which make up the center of his upbringing, memory,
and experiences. In his dreams, Josh flies back through time to relive
his people’s history and uncover a legacy of triumphs and betrayals,
ceremonies and secrets, in order to forge a new sense of self. This
year’s Common Read is led by Dr. Mark Rifkin, Assistant Professor
of U.S. Ethnic Literature in the UNCG English department, and
David Rogers, Residential College Coordinator of the aW rren Ashby
Residential College at UNCG. Rogers, Ph.D. candidate in English
and the GW S Graduate Certificate, also teaches an introductory
section of GW S 250 with a focus on masculinity studies.

Dr. Rifkin led an introductory discussion on the context of the
novel (on Indian policy in the 19th and 20th centuries, Creek
history and Creek tradition) in September. Rogers calls the novel
a “tender and beautiful representation of masculinity” and states
that one of the reasons that he and Dr. Rifkin chose this work is
because it is easily incorporated into a WGS program. Rogers
is particularly interested in how the book fits into masculinity
studies and discussions of an American manhood built on
discoursive acts of exclusion and what happens when people do not conform to a dominant
cultural narrative. He also is interested in exploring how American ideas of masculinity inform
citizenship. Rogers is excited about the possibility of organizing events across the WGS curriculum
related to the novel and the potential to bring together WGS undergraduates for
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discussion of such a powerful work.
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