Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis

Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis

Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis

Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis

Synopsis

The contributors to this volume argue that in the gendered body lies the crux of the hopes and disappointments of the modern urban and suburban utopias to be found in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Excerpt

This volume has its origins in a year-long workshop culminating in a three-day conference, funded by the Graham Foundation, at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago. That project, also entitled 'Embodied Utopias', sought not just to study others' utopian visions, but to embody a 'different' everyday practice of academic work. in many ways that aspiration to a 'different practice' was a continuation of the vision of the women's studies centers founded in the 1970s, aspirations that had become less common by the late 1990s. We sought to be more egalitarian than is the norm in academic institutions; we tried to transcend barriers of practical and abstract knowledge; and we tried to engage as much in community-building as in event-production. I am delighted to be able to say that while all such efforts run up against the hard walls of established norms, 'Embodied Utopias' came closer than any other project during the three years of my directorship of the Center in being utopian in practice as well as in subject. the intellectual and organizational initiative, responsibility, and follow-through for the project came from students; the Center's administrative assistant, Julia Coyne Nitti (now Allen), played an important intellectual as well as administrative role; participation in the project ranged far beyond the University; and the conference and book came out of a sustained year-long discussion.

Without the intellectual and political vision, commitment, and energy of three women who were graduate students at Chicago at the time, neither the workshop, nor the conference, nor the book would ever have come into existence. Rebecca Zorach was one of the principal investigators in the project we presented to the Graham Foundation (Katherine Taylor, of the Art History Department at the University of Chicago, and I were the others). the conceptualization and writing of the successful grant application were very largely hers. During the workshop year (during which Rebecca Zorach was absent doing her dissertation research), the other co-editors of the volume, Amy Bingaman and Lise Shapiro (now Sanders), along with Julia Nitti, took responsibility for planning

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