Q&A with Carol Stabile, interim director of CSWS

Carol Stabile, professor of journalism and communication, was appointed interim director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS) at the University of Oregon this fall.

For more than forty years, faculty and graduate students affiliated with CSWS have conducted groundbreaking research on gender, race, class, sexuality and ability. Recently, faculty members associated with CSWS have been leaders in the efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence on campus and to advocate for a safe and equitable educational experience for everyone.

We spoke with Stabile to learn more about the work of CSWS and what lies ahead for the center this year.

As the interim director of CSWS, what are your goals for the center this year?

I've been discussing a number of priorities with the CSWS board. The main priority this year is to hire a new director, a scholar with a national research profile who can build on the Center's successes and lead it in new directions. A second priority is to make some of our special projects sustainable by establishing permanent funding and preparing to hire new staff when we are ready.

We also want to work on the Research Interest Group (RIG) program to figure out what makes specific RIGs successful and try to build off those success stories.

Could you briefly describe the RIGs and how they coordinate research at CSWS?

The RIG program brings together faculty, graduate students, and staff around shared research interests and provides resources for bringing in speakers, organizing reading groups, and planning other events that can facilitate collaborative and individual research projects. Those who are interested in joining one of our RIGS can contact the coordinator or attend an event sponsored by the group.

What projects do you think have been the most successful?

The Northwest Women Writers' Symposium and the Fembot Collective are currently CSWS's two most active and outward-facing projects. Both began as research interest groups.

Could you tell us about the work of the Fembot Collective?

The Fembot Collective is a collaboration among faculty, graduate students, media producers, artists, and librarians to promote research on gender, new media and technology. It includes multiple projects, but the primary focus right now is on the production of a new open access scholarly journal called Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

What is Ada working on right now?

We are currently working on an application for a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) with our partners at the University of Maryland that would allow us to fund research on Ada. Since its launch in 2012, Ada has had over 285,000 views of its articles (20,000 in the past two months alone). No other journal in the field of digital humanities has had traffic anywhere near this.

We want to hire a scholar who can analyze our data and help us better understand how our users are engaging with our material. As we work on our textbook for civic engagement, better understanding our audience's actual practices (which we are uniquely situated to do) will allow us to create effective and dynamic content.

Could you tell us a little more about the Northwest Women Writers’ Symposium?

Our annual Northwest Women Writers’ Symposium is an event that brings authors, community members, and scholars together around a particular theme. This year, the theme is “Crossing Borders: Women’s Stories of Immigration, Migration, and Transition.” We’re thrilled to have American Book Award winner Reyna Grande as the keynote author this year.

What events are you most excited about this year?

In addition to the Northwest Women Writers’ Symposium, I would say that I’m looking forward to two events in particular. First, the Ms. Fembot 2015 event at Ms. Magazine Headquarters in LA. The event will help write women, people of color, and queer people into Wikipedia and create a digital toolkit for civic engagement and will also feature a feminist hackathon.

I’m also looking forward to having Tanisha Ford, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, join us in April to talk about her newly published book: Liberated Threads: Black Women and the Politics of Adornment.

What’s the best way for people to hear more about CSWS programs?

You can subscribe to our listserv or follow us on Facebook for updates and announcements about our upcoming events.