From the Director

Dona Yarbrough

By Dona Yarbrough

“Entering the World through Language” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month series featuring Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rita Dove. The title is borrowed from the title of Susan Davis’s 1986 interview with Dove, in which the poet discusses the importance of teacher-mentors in her life—those who gave her space to read and write. Through these activities, she says, “The world gets larger.”   

Our lead story, “Poetic Justice,” tells us how Rita Dove paid this mentoring forward to a more recent Pulitzer Prize winner at Emory, Professor Natasha Trethewey, who holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry. Trethewey, in turn, mentors younger poets through her work with Emory creative writing students. Thereby, the long list of women’s accomplishments continues to be written.

WNN's celebration of women doesn't stop there. We focus on women in neuroscience at Emory, highlighting two accomplished women who are taking time to mentor other women and bring feminism into their research: Associate Professor Deboleena Roy and graduate student Meera Modi.

The Center for Women has continued to be significantly involved in the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) as well. Susan Carini interviews Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the recent past president of NWSA, who received her PhD from Emory in 1984. Guy-Sheftall recounts some of the complicated history of the organization—most dramatically, a walkout by women of color in 1990—along with the reasons why she remains enthusiastic about the organization. We do too, especially after Sasha Smith, our assistant director, won the NWSA Women’s Centers Committee’s first Emerging Leaders Award following a nomination from yours truly. 

But the news in this Women’s News and Narratives is not all rosy. “Is Marriage Recession-Proof?” discusses the effect of the economy on marriage and on both opposite-sex and same-sex couples in the U.S., while “Women and the 2010 Midterm Elections”—written by political science Associate Professor Beth Reingold and graduate student Jessica Harrell—analyzes the overall loss of power for women in politics this year. Both stories remind us—if we need reminding—that women’s progress is neither inevitable nor a steady upward climb. It is hard won, and it can backslide. 
This is one of the many reasons why Emory has a Center for Women. As Provost Earl Lewis and his wife, Susan Whitlock, explain in this issue’s Donor Spotlight, the focus of the center has changed over time, but the basic charge to tackle women’s and gender issues has not. 

During March, we draw attention to the many ways that women (and our allies) engage with the world through programs focused on music, dance, literature, spirituality, travel, fashion, healing, and activism. Click here to see the 2011 Women’s History Month Calendar. With more than twenty-five events, there’s an entry point for everyone.