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Central Students and Faculty Present at Women’s and Gender Studies Conference

Featured: Central Students and Faculty Present at Women’s and Gender Studies Conference

May 10, 2023

Central College faculty and students attended the annual Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate and Undergraduate Student Conference at Iowa State University, April 15.

The conference opened with an address on everyday activism by Max Mowitz, program director at One Iowa. This was followed by a day of presentations from students representing Central College as well as Grinnell College, Iowa State and the University of Iowa.

Presenting from Central were:

  • Grae Digmann-Pearson, Class of 2024, presented “Sensuality, Sodomy and the Subversion of Heteronormative Ideals in Dracula,” which drew from their final research project completed for the same course.
  • Carter Piagentini, Class of 2025, read from his original poetry collection entitled “Sexuality and Confinement,” also written for Billing’s LGBTQ+ Literature and Culture course.
  • Fynn Wadsworth, Class of 2025, gave a talk titled “Self-Made Man,” in which he presented an artist’s book made as an extension of his final project for an LGBTQ+ Literature and Culture course, taught by Valerie Billing, assistant professor of English.

Anika Faro and Gabby Kimm, both in the Class of 2023, attended the conference as part of their “Feminist Knowledge-Making Project” assignment for the course “Witches and Warriors: Feminist Thought and Social Justice,” taught by Beth McMahon, associate professor of library science. The students attended two conference options and then wrote a critical reflection on the readings and concepts. This experience encourages students to understand themselves as active contributors to scholarly discourse and knowledge creation.

“I’m grateful that Central supports students in sharing their research and creativity with a larger academic community beyond our campus,” Billing says. “I’m so proud of Fynn, Grae and Carter for embracing this opportunity and for the hard work each of them put in to revise their final written project for our course into a presentation for a broader audience. All three of them blew me away, and they represented the strong work Central students are doing in conversation with students from ISU, U of I, and Grinnell.”

“I feel honored that I was given the opportunity to attend a conference where I felt genuinely appreciated and accepted,” Digmamm-Pearson says. “It made my academic and personal experiences not only feel validated but also made me feel safe to be who I am and follow my interests without fear of judgment or disinterest.”

This opportunity was made possible by funds from the Bette Brunsting Student Project Fund.