Speakers, faculty, and presenters

We acknowledge and thank our talented speakers, faculty, and presenters, without whose expertise this conference would not be possible.

Conference Keynote speaker: Lily Yeh, Creating Sustainable Society

Lily Yeh is an internationally celebrated artist whose work has taken her to communities throughout the world. Born in Kueizhou, China, Yeh studied traditional Chinese painting in Taiwan before immigrating to the United States in 1963. She received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and was a professor of painting and art history at the University of the Arts from 1968 through 1998. A successful painter, she was showing her work in Beijing when she witnessed the Tiananmen Square protests. This experienced helped to shift her thinking about what an artist can do.

Under her leadership as founder, executive director, and lead artist from 1968 to 2004, Yeh was instrumental in the development of The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia, a non-profit organization with the mission to build community through art, learning, land transformation, and economic development. Under her 18 years of leadership The Village’s summer park building project developed into an organization with 20 full-time and part-time employees, hundreds of volunteers, and a $1.3 million budget.

In 2004, Yeh left the Village of Arts and Humanities to pursue her work internationally. She formed a new nonprofit organization, Barefoot Artists, Inc., with the mission to bring the transformative power of art to impoverished communities in the world through participatory and multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve indigenous art and culture. This work has included The Dandelion School Transformation Project. The school is located in a polluted industrial section on the outskirts of Beijing and serves the needs of several hundred children of poor migrant workers from 24 provinces. Her work includes The Rwanda Healing Project, the construction of the 1994 Genocide Memorial, and the transformation of a survivors village in the Rugerero district in West Rwanda. The film Barefoot Artist which traces Lily's development as an artist working for a sustainable future for all, will also be shown at the conference. It traces Lily’s evolution as an artist – from her first exposure to Chinese landscape painting as a young girl in China to the hauntingly beautiful memorial she designed to honor the victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The film also reveals her personal journey within, to repair her own fractured family.

Yeh's work has won her many prestigious awards including 6 honorary doctoral degrees from prominent universities in the United States. Yeh's work has impacted people and places in China, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kenya, the Republic of Georgia, Rwanda, Taiwan, Palestine, and the United States. She will speak about creating sustainable society.

(Photo credit: Jiping Chang)

Awards speaker

Andriel Dees is Director of Multicultural Affairs for the Center for Academic Innovation at Capella University. She served as Chief Diversity Officer, University of Wisconsin River Falls Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 2010-2013, and was herself a recipient of the UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award in 2013. She has also served as an adjunct professor at William Mitchell, teaching the course Race and the Law and Appellate Advocacy. Dees earned her juris doctorate from William Mitchell and a bachelor's degree in English from Hampton University. She is an accomplished presenter, co-chair of the civic education committee of the Minnesota Bar Association, and is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. Her portfolio includes working on a class action discrimination suit by African-American farms against the United States Department of Agriculture. Her strong personal and intellectual commitment to social justice and to advancing excellence through diversity has shown Andriel Dees to be a transformational leader in higher education.

Plenary speakers

Plenary 1: Digital Activism: Using Networks to Build Inclusive Community

Lisa Hager is Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, where she co-directs the LGBTQIA Resource Center and co-advises the Pride Alliance student organization. In Spring 2014, Lisa taught the first Introduction to LGBTQ Studies course in the University of Wisconsin Colleges (UWC). This class was the result of an independent study project with a group of 5 undergraduate students and marks the first time that UWC students have played a major role in course design. Lisa also coordinates the Bob and Sue Andrews LGBTQ+ Lecture & Discussion Series at UW-Waukesha funded by the Robert H. Andrews Memorial Fund (Tides Foundation), which has included programs with Robyn Ochs and Janet Mock. Her current book project looks at the relationship between the New Woman and the Victorian family. Lisa's research and teaching interests include Victorian women’s writing, nineteenth-century science, aestheticism, queer studies, steampunk, and digital humanities. Lisa is on Twitter @lmhager, and her website is lisahager.net.

Dorothy Kim is an assistant professor of English at Vassar College. She is a 2013-2014 Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Institute of Advanced Judaic Studies. She is finishing a monograph, Ancrene Wisse and the Jews, that discusses gendered Jewish/Christian entanglement theory in relation to 13-century religious books produced for female readers in Britain. She is also working on a second book entitled Crusader Rhetoric and the Katherine Group that considers how 13-century English devotional literature for female religious women was fashioned as a form of crusader polemic. She has written several collaborative articles for ModelViewCulture about WOC feminism and Twitter activism: Gawking at Rape Culture and The #TwitterEthics Manifesto. She is working on a volume with Jesse Stommel (University of Wisconsin, Madison) on Disrupting the Digital Humanities which will be forthcoming with Punctum Books.

Sean Michael Morris is the editor of Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. Sean is also an online organizer for the Service Employees International Union / Adjunct Action, working as a digital activist to gather community around conversations about academic labor. He calls himself a digital agnostic, and he learns, teaches, and theorizes from a contemplative perspective. He is a mildly avid World of Warcraft player, a genuine admirer of his gender-queer adult child, and a fan of every writer trying to convey ideas across digital media. You can follow him on Twitter @slamteacher, and his personal website can be found at seanmichaelmorris.com.

Jesse Stommel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts, and an affiliate of the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is Founder and Director of Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. He is an advocate for marginalized voices in education, lifelong learning, and the public digital humanities. His scholarship explores the sometimes wondrous, sometimes horrifying relationship between bodies and technology. His essay, “Toward a Zombie Pedagogy,” recently appeared in the collection Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education. In 2011, he co-produced and directed GA Tech It Gets Better, a short documentary about LGBTQ inclusivity on the GA Tech campus. You can find out more about his work at www.jessestommel.com and he’s on Twitter @Jessifer.

R L Widmann has taught a variety of English department courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Colorado Boulder.  One of her specialties is prose by women writers.  She also developed the academic program in LGB studies at CU Boulder in the early 1990s and taught Queer Theory courses in it.  She is currently working on educational outreach for life long learners.  She has been a feminist since the age of 4, when she was told (incorrectly), "girls can't do THAT."  She has been doing THAT ever since.

Plenary 2: Gendered Planet: Ethics, Ecology, and Equity

Reyna Crow began her career as an activist at the age of 7, when she began tabling with the International Committee Against Racism. After decades of experience advocating for animals and working on environmental issues, she found herself "disabled" due to violence, and began to learn how to advocate for other women coping with crime related trauma, which all too often was being exacerbated by the service providers who were supposed to help them. Crow lives in Duluth, Minnesota where she founded both the `Northwoods Wolf Alliance’ and `Idle No More Duluth’ in 2012. Her work with `Idle No More’ and contact with numerous survivors of the trafficking hub that has operated out of the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI for generations has led to a current focus on meeting with Indigenous survivors to support them in developing a grassroots network of safety and support that is culturally appropriate and led by the survivors themselves. Crow is also assisting with the launch of `Duluth Save the Kids’ and is a foster parent.

Greta Gaard is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. She is the author of The Nature of Home (2007) and Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens (1998), editor of Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature (1993), and co-editor of Ecofeminist Literary Criticism (1998) and International Perspectives in Feminist Ecocriticism (Routledge 2013). Her essays have appeared in American Quarterly, DEP: Deportate, Esuli e Profughe, Ecozon@, Feminismos, Environmental Ethics, The Ecologist, Ethics & the Environment, Hypatia, Interdisciplinary Studies on Literature and Environment, Signs, World Literature, and other volumes of feminist, environmental, queer, and cultural studies research. She is actively involved in MN350.Org, MN Voters for Animal Protection, OutFront Minnesota, BareBones Productions, and Common Ground Meditation Center.

Christina Holmes is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at DePauw University in Indiana where she teaches courses that include Feminist Inquiry (research methods), Women of Color in the U.S., Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism, and Transnational Feminisms. Christina received her PhD from the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University; she studied gender and development while working toward her M.St. in Women's Studies at Oxford University. Currently, her research focuses on ecological themes in the work of Chicana artists, activists, and scholars. In 2013 Christina was recognized with the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize for her manuscript Chicana Environmentalisms: Decolonizing the Body, Nature, and Spirit, which is now under review at the press.

Xiumei Pu received her formal education in both China and the U.S. She was born in a village in Sichuan Province, China, where her grandmother was a healer and her mother a strong-willed woman with a modernized mind. Her early life shaped her ecological consciousness and her current research interests in rural women, the environment, and ecospirituality. She has a background in English, American Cultural Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. After teaching English on the University level in China, Xiumei came to the United States in 2004 to pursue women’s studies, earning an M.A. in women’s studies from Georgia State University and a PhD in feminist studies from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on transnational and global feminism with an emphasis on Chinese ecowomanism, exploring non-western, rural, and indigenous women’s experience and knowledge production in western China. Her essay "Nature, Sexuality, and Spirituality: A Womanist Reading of Di Mu (Earth Mother) and Di Mu Jing (Songs of Earth Mother) in China" examines the link between Di Mu Belief, western Chinese rural women’s agency, and sustainability. Her forthcoming essay "Turning Weapons into Flowers: Ecospiritual Poetics and Politics of Bön and Ecowomanism" elaborates on the ecospiritual ethos of peacemaking, ecospiritual knowing, ecospiritual knowledge production, and ecospiritual activism informed by Tibetan Bön thought. Her first novel, Let My Head Split like a Sunflower, My Tears Fall like Raindrops, is under review by Aunt Lute Books. The novel is based on her field research on women and indigenous spirituality in southwest rural China and Tibet. She has taught elective and core courses in Gender and Women’s Studies, including courses for Women’s Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 and 2014.

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