Virginia Festival of the Book

Story by: Camille Kidwell

 The Virginia Festival of the Book is an exciting event that brings local, literary scholars great joy each year.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, an organization that seeks to inspire cultural engagement and intellectual curiosity within the citizens of Virginia, funds this special occasion. Since its inception in 1974, the VFH has created more than 40,000 humanities programs that serve throughout the globe.

On March 20, I had the opportunity to attend one of the many events that the festival sponsored, the MFA Alumni Reading.  Hosted by the U.Va. MFA Creative Writing Program, four authors read from their most recent work to a small audience at the University of Virginia Bookstore. The four readers were each alumni of the MFA program here at U.Va.


read more
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

View of the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Story and photos by: Kelsey McKeon

Third Year Women Girls and Global Justice intern Kelsey McKeon describes her experiences living in the Middle East for her intern project as a part of the Women’s Center’s International Women’s Month.

As the oldest child of a State Department diplomat, moving has been a defining part of my upbringing.

I was fortunate enough to finish out high school in Stockholm, Sweden, where my family was stationed from 2009 until the summer of 2012. After spending more than half of my 18 years of life in four different countries, I knew a move was coming, and that our third and final year in Stockholm was coming to a close.

But I did not think that the move would be to Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I had only dabbled in transnational feminism while in high school, and though I had never studied the Middle East I knew that the Kingdom was notorious for their strict and oppressive treatment of women, more so than any other country in the region. I knew that after living in Stockholm, a European capital known around the world for its social liberalism and subzero temperatures, that moving to Saudi Arabia’s desert capital would be a very pronounced change.

However, being afflicted with a severe case of senioritis and convinced that this move would hardly affect me, I said goodbye to my family in August 2012 when they dropped me off here at U.V.a. and left for Riyadh. After a difficult first semester transitioning into college life with my parents halfway across the world, I boarded the plane home for winter break feeling excited to see my family but also nervous to experience a culture unlike anything I had ever known before.

Now, three years later, my family has returned to the Washington D.C. area, and leaving Riyadh has been a great cause for reflection on how my time there has impacted me, both in my academics as a Middle Eastern Studies major and in my involvements and interactions with others here at the University. Here’s what I feel I have learned, summarized in the following four points.


read more

MLP Mask You Live In

Story by: Carly Gorelick

The Men’s Leadership Project, sponsored by the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, presented Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s latest film, The Mask You Live In last month. While this film has still not been officially released, Claire Kaplan, Director of the Gender Violence and Social Change program at the Women’s Center, was able to secure an early copy, giving members of the community the opportunity to watch the film and engage in a follow-up conversation.

The Mask You Live In is the second film created for Newsom’s nonprofit organization, The Representation Project. After her first powerful documentary Miss Representation demonstrated the ways that mainstream media creates largely popular, distorted images of women that further the power inequality between men and women, she and her crew embarked to raise consciousness of society’s treatment of “masculinity” and the consequences of this treatment. The Mask You Live In detailed the ways media, parents, peers, etc. create limiting and dangerous understandings of what it means to “be a man.”


read more

Ciao from Italia!

Story and photos by: Olivia Knott

Best part of studying in Italy? I can finally add more to my Italian repertoire than simply “ciao” and “la dolce vita.”

Montepulciano, Italy

Montepulciano, Italy

Why yes, in fact, I can now order coffee and give directions- actually, I promise I can do a bit more than that- and I have great hopes that by the end of four months I’ll even be able to hold a decent conversation. But for now: Coffee orders, directions and present tense conjugations will have to do.

The greatest choice I made when studying abroad was doing it alone.

I am not going to lie: The first few weeks felt like a cringe-worthy repeat of first year, when I came to U.Va. knowing virtually nobody. But Study Abroad is not supposed to be an easy semester-long vacation; it’s a time to grow as a person, to challenge yourself and to find comfort in never feeling comfortable.

Personally, this time abroad has proven to me my strength and ability to thrive in new and unknown places. To know this about myself is valuable especially as fourth year and the inevitable real world approach.


read more
Cheryl Harris

Image courtesy of Women, Gender and Sexuality program at U.Va.

Story by: Alaina Segura

 A bustling, diverse crowd in a full room of Minor Hall was in attendance for a lecture at the end of February, presented by the Women, Gender and Sexuality program at U.Va.  The talk was given by Cheryl I. Harris, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Interim Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at UCLA.

Her presentation “Race Declassified: Post-Racial Diversions” explored the relationship between class and race in the context of the college admission process and affirmative action.


read more