Paper and Panel Descriptions 2023

(See Program for 2023 Conference and register)

Panel 1: Complicating historical narratives about rights
9:30am to 10:30am
Chair: Rose Fine-Meyer
A. Writing with responsibility: complexities and contradictions in Ontario’s suffrage

Tarah Brookfield
Abstract: Ontario’s history of women’s suffrage has struggled to find its relevance amid evolutions in the field of women’s and gender history. Moreover, while suffrage history intersects with narratives of social change and women’s rights, Ontario’s suffragists were almost uniformly white, privileged, and deliberately exclusive which makes their activism incompatible with contemporary understandings of social justice and human rights. Drawing on my experiences writing and researching Our Voices Must Be Heard: Women and the Vote in Ontario (UBC 2018), a volume in the book series: Women’s Suffrage and the Struggle for Democracy, this paper will grapple with how to embrace the complexities of the suffrage movement to make it meaningful in a 21 st century context.

B. Miss Canada 1962: Oral History and the Ethics of Feminist Scholarship
Andrea Eidinger
Note: virtual presentation
Abstract: What do you do when your only source of information retracts their statements? The one and only Jewish Miss Canada, Connie Gail Feller, was crowned in 1962 and was dethroned about one month into her reign. Feller granted me an interview, but several months later, she asked me to destroy all records of our conversation and retracted all of her statements. This put me into a difficult situation: what responsibility did I have to my interviewee, and what responsibility did I have to the public and history? While the field of oral history has advanced substantially, rarely are there discussions about what happens when something goes wrong. In this presentation, I explore some of the pitfalls of doing feminist oral history and explain how I navigated this particular situation.

C. Writing gender, sexuality, and race into Canada’s abortion history
Shannon Stettner
Abstract: There is much room to complicate the existing narrative of Canada’s anti-abortion movement. I began studying the anti-abortion movement because I was interested in the movement’s use of violence during the Operation Rescue protests of the late 1980s and early 1990s. As my research progressed, my definition of violence expanded beyond physical violence to include discursive violence. In addition to the sexism that has already been examined, I found homophobia and racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. In this presentation, I will explore some of the ways that we can complicate our understanding of Canadian abortion history by incorporating a human rights-based analytical framework.

Panel 2: Teaching in a post-pandemic and post-feminist world
10:45am to 11:45am
Panelists: Stephanie Gibson-Hardie, Linda Ambrose, Rose Fine-Meyer,
Chair: Sara MacDonald
Abstract: This panel will explore how the Covid pandemic and shifts in gender narratives are affecting teaching and educational institutions. Stephanie Gibson, TDSB teacher, will speak about the “Humberside school wall” commemorating women, its history, and the current discussion regarding its relevance today. In a talk titled, “Zooms, and Owls, and Chats, Oh My! Post-pandemic Pedagogy for Gender & Women’s History,” Linda Ambrose, Laurentian University, will explore the changing landscape of teaching gender and women’s studies on a university level. Finally, Rose Fine-Meyer will acknowledge the history of Green Dragon Press, Pat Staton’s equity press, that provided published resources about women’s experiences to
schools for decades.

Panel 3. Feminism through education
1:30pm to 2:30pm
Chair: Alyson King
A. “Ms. Magazine in the Library:” Feminism in Ontario High Schools, 1968-1980
Megan Blair
Abstract: During the upsurge of feminist activity in the 1970s, women’s groups across Ontario worked to combat gender discrimination in the province’s schools. Women’s organizations in communities across Ontario urged schools and the Ontario government to implement the Royal Commission on the Status of Women’s recommendations relating to elementary and high school education. High school girls recognized systemic barriers to their full participation in the education system and took individual action to advocate for their right to, for example, take shop class or senior level sciences, start competitive girls’ sports teams, or enter non-traditional careers. Using oral history and the archives of school boards and feminist organizations, this paper argues that high schools were an active site of feminist activity in the 1970s.

B. “High Achievers and Fine Minds”: CFUW’s Travelling Scholarship
Dianne Dodd
Abstract: This paper looks examines the scholarship program of the Canadian Federation of
University Women (CFUW). At the Federation, or national level, the travelling scholarship was
instituted in 1921, as a way of promoting elite female scholars into academic teaching and research jobs by giving them an opportunity to study outside of Canada and gain solid research credentials. At the local, or club level, the scholarship program was geared toward helping high school students attend university, and local clubs were early to include part time and older students. The paper looks at some of the early scholarship winners and their careers, in order to assess the success of CFUW’s efforts to use scholarships to help women gain access to prestigious academic positions in Canada.

C. Undergraduate Bodies: Women and Academic Citizenship in English Canada, 1875-
Sara MacDonald
Abstract: In the nineteenth-century university, the right to wear academic dress was granted to men when they matriculated as undergraduates, and the idealized male body in cap and gown was a powerful symbol of elite academic citizenship. In this context, images of women wearing cap and gown created a disconnect. Women students, newly admitted into universities in English Canada, confronted the contradictions inherent to this occupation by constructing a different yet still idealized female body in photographic images. As clients in a photographer’s studio, or as photographers with their own box cameras, women used photography to discursively reimagine bodies compose an ideal of academic citizenship which positioned their competition with men for degrees and employment within the larger discourse of Anglo-Canadian colonialism.

2:30 to 3:30: Celebration of Pat Staton

(See Program for 2023 Conference)