The inaugural Sharon Seager Memorial lecture was held at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Forum room at 3:30 p.m. Sharon Seager was a leading member of the Women’s Studies Committee and a History Professor before she passed earlier last year.
The event was hosted by members of the Honors College, the Department of English, and the Department of Women's, Gender, & African American Studies, and featured SaraEllen Strongman, assistant professor in afroamerican and african studies at the University of Michigan, as a guest speaker.
“Sharon Seager lecture series is such an exciting event. It's really rare to have new funded events like this, and to have one that is about women's and gender history in particular, even rarer and it was such an honor to be asked to give the inaugural one.” Said Strongman.
Strongman's lecture focused mainly on a feminist poet and lesbian activist, Pat Parker, in a presentation titled, Movement in Black: Pat Parker and Black Feminist Literary Culture. Strongman is also currently writing a manuscript titled The Sisterhood: Black Women, Black Feminism, and the Women's Liberation Movement, which she said she hopes to be released in 2025 or 2026.
Strongman’s work has been published in Feminist Theory and Feminist Studies.
“One of the things that I always tell my students is that some of the best research projects have come out of things that annoy us,” Strongman said. “And I had been really interested in Audrey Lorde and Alice Walker, even before I found [Pat] Parker, and I wanted to know how all of these people could have lived at the same time.”
Her interest led her to find out the three did, in fact, know each other.
“They wrote together,” Strongman said. “They wrote letters to each other and so finding out how they found each other and how they sort of individually were the group to find Black feminism. That was a thread that I just followed all the way down.”
Emily Johnson, associate professor of history, was an event planner for the lecture along with Max Felker-Kantor, associate professor of history, and Shiau-Yun Chen, associate professor of history and women’s and gender studies.
“We received a really generous donation from a former faculty member in the History Department, specifically for talks on women’s and gender history,” Johnson said about the main inspiration for the event. “And as we were putting together, we were looking for scholars and came across Dr. Strongman’s work and we’re just so excited about it and thought our students would be too.”
According to Professor Johnson, Sharon Seager’s main goal before her passing was to guarantee that Women’s and Gender Studies History wasn’t forgotten.
“We need to rest a little bit, but definitely there will be a topic next September. Something to do with Women and Gender History. If readers have any suggestions they can email me [Professor Johnson],” Said Johnson when asked about future event plans.
Megan Halcomb, a fourth year general history major, attended the event and has been learning about Black History.
“Something that is really important to me is our education system,” Halcomb said. “As someone who wants to be an educator, the erasure of black history in schools has really hit a nerve with me. It's a real shame that a lot of people in our country don't get to know about their history and their full identity in their classrooms and it shows.”
Contact Jayda Mann with comments via email firstname.lastname@example.org.