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Gender issues from different perspectives up for discussion

Vivian Liddell, Dr. Mina Kyounghye Kwon and Dr. Austin Riede will be the featured presenters in the Gender Studies Council speaker series. Liddell will talk on Feb. 17, Dr. Mina Kyounghye Kwon on March 17, and Dr. Austin Riede on April 14.

After seeing only a few TED Talks, Dr. Joshua Martin was captivated. The assistant professor of Spanish at the University of North Georgia (UNG) thought the premise of experts sharing their ideas with the public was inspiring.

It led to his own inspiration. He thought it would be great if UNG faculty in the Gender Studies Council could share their expertise with the community. So Martin developed the Gender Studies Council speaker series.

"The overarching idea is to have the UNG faculty share their research and scholarly work with the public," Martin said. "It's like UNG's own version of a TED Talk. Through this series, we can share what we do when we are not in the classroom."

Launched in fall 2019, the series featured a few faculty members focusing on gender issues and topics. This year's series boasts a trio of UNG faculty members who will focus on gender from three different perspectives: visual arts, theater and literature.

Each faculty member will discuss their topic from 12-12:50 p.m. on Zoom. UNG students, faculty and staff as well as the public may participate in the speaker series, which was organized by Martin and Dr. Olivier Le Blond, assistant professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages

Kicking off the series on Feb. 17 will be Vivian Liddell, assistant professor of visual arts at UNG. As an artist who specializes in figurative abstraction and frequently paints the male nude, she will present paintings of men throughout history with a focus on the male form.

"I will explore the ideas relating to power, class and gender," Liddell said. 

On March 17, Dr. Mina Kyounghye Kwon will talk about a traditional Korean puppet play's third scene that focuses on the husband, wife and concubine. Kwon said while official documents in Joseon focused mainly on high-ranking people, "traditional Korean puppet theater gives us a valuable insight into ordinary women and their marriages because it was a folk performance genre.”

"I will also make a brief connection to the status of women in contemporary Korea," said Kwon, associate professor of world and comparative literature in the English department.

Wrapping up the series on April 14 will be Dr. Austin Riede with his talk about the notions of masculinity in interwar shell shock narratives. He explained while many British soldiers suffered from "shell shock" after World War I, the idea that men could be afflicted with mental trauma was incompatible to society's fixed and rigid notions of gender.

"On the other hand, shell shock provided authors an opportunity to explore the fragility of their society's constructed gender assumptions," said Riede, associate professor of English.

Martin said it is important to discuss these gender topics as they gain national attention.

"When we talk about gender, it's often about power, place, agency, and visibility," he said. "As researchers, we try to untangle that and see where it is going. We hope that the speaker series will help illuminate that process as they relate to these different disciplines."

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