The scholarly and literary accomplishments of three women faculty members were honored at a reception recently hosted by the Lehigh University Women’s Studies program and the departments of international relations and political science, and attended by faculty members from several departments in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Honored at the reception were Hannah Stewart-Gambino, professor of political science, who wrote the soon-to-be-published, Activist Faith: Women from the Popular Church and Social Movements in Democratic Brazil and Chile
; Janice Bially Mattern, assistant professor of international relations, who wrote Ordering International Politics: Identity, Crisis and Representational Force,
and Laura Katz-Olson, professor and chair of the political science department, who wrote her first novel, Heart Sounds.
In introducing the honorees, Women’s Studies director Jackie Krasas offered both praise for the three professors and their notable achievements, and gratitude for the support she’s received from her colleagues at Lehigh.
“I want to take the opportunity to say that I’ve been thrilled to be in the company of these accomplished scholars,” she said. “I am also so enthused to see the level of feminist faculty research being done here at Lehigh. It seems that everyone finds such great joy in their work, and that Women’s Studies faculty are everywhere on this campus. It’s a great model for what could be collectively accomplished.”
In discussing her work, Stewart-Gambino told the attendees that her book represents a departure from the work she did for the first 15 years of her career.
“When I was at Duke,” she said, “I came out doing very traditional work. The Women’s Studies program here at Lehigh greatly influenced my work by making it much more inter-disciplinary. For example, in order to answer our research question, we had to draw on literatures in religion, political science, social movement theory, gender studies, and history."
Stewart-Gambino’s work traces the aftermath of the primarily women-led grassroots movement in Catholic-based communities that sparked the Brazilian and Chilean pro-democracy movements.
“Once political change came, it was like this movement never happened,” she says. “All of us – the media, the scholars – went back to the script that this was a movement led by traditional groups. Our question became, ‘What happened to these women?’ ”
As a political scientist, she continued, “I recognize that you can’t understand social movements by studying them at their peak. You have to follow the cycle.”
Stewart-Gambino said that the research she conducted with her co-author, Carol Ann Drogus, a professor of government at Hamilton College, led them to “very moving stories of incredible women.”
Janice Bially Mattern told the attendees that her book was an outgrowth of her doctoral dissertation while still a student at Yale.
She described “Ordering International Politics” as an inquiry into the construction of international order that deviates from the norm by looking at the process of identity formation among nation states. In this book, Bially Mattern examined this process through the 1956 Suez Crisis, what she called a critical moment in Anglo-American relations.
“It provided me with the opportunity to look at the way statesmen used language, word choice and structure,” she said.
Katz Olson told the crowd that her first work of fiction was inspired by a therapy group she was involved with for 12 years.
“When I started writing it, I had to ask the group for permission, and instead of people being shy about it, I got responses like, ‘Yes, I want to be in it!’ There was no negativity, only support,” she said.
She also called the process of writing the novel “an extremely rewarding experience and very different from the kind of academic work I’ve been used to.”
The author of five scholarly books on aging, Katz Olson said that writing fiction “can be a struggle at times but it’s something I would highly recommend.”
“I wrote every night, and I couldn’t wait to get to it,” she said. “The characters became so real to me. It was fascinating for me.”
For more information on “Activist Faith,” click here
For more information on “Ordering International Politics,” click here.
The book “Heart Sounds,” could be ordered at any bookstore, and is available at the Lehigh bookstore. The ISBN # is: 0967874513.