Speakers' Series

Speakers' Series

The Advisory Committee on Speakers, Department of Gender Studies, organizes public talks by local and visiting speakers on topics of interest to the university and St. John's communities.

The series runs in the Fall and Winter semesters of each academic year.


All lectures are open to the public and unless otherwise noted are held in the Sally Davis Seminar Room, SN 4087.

The following speakers are confirmed for the Fall 2016 Department of Gender Studies Speakers' Series.

Revised Date

Thursday, 1 February, 12:00 p.m., SN 4087

Janet Merlo, retired RCMP Constable

No One to Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP

In 2011, I was one of a few RCMP officers who spoke out publicly about the ongoing and persistent sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in the force. In my lecture I will give examples of the harassment and tell how it chipped away at me and when I spoke out, how it cost me my career. I will look at the problems in the paramilitary structure of the police force that allowed this toxic culture to grow and persist for decades. Looking to the future, I will also examine what women and men can do within the workplace to help put an end to this culture of misogyny. I will discuss how gender based harassment causes low morale and productivity, high incidents of sick leave and staff turnover and how businesses are losing millions of dollars annually to this toxic workplace environment. The RCMP has not yet begun to implement any of the change initiatives they agreed to in my lawsuit settlement. The suit, however, has opened the doors for other groups of women to come forward and we are seeing a new movement begin to arise in not only in policing and in the military, but now in the film industry and even university campuses. How can we keep the talk alive and how can we work to clean these toxic work places? How can we turn this huge problem around and make workplaces and campuses safer for everybody?

Postponed to Fall 2018

Daze Jefferies, Master of Gender Studies Candidate, Memorial University

Flankers Inside Us: Oral Histories of Embodiment, Health and Resistance among Trans Women in Newfoundland and Labrador

While the experiences, struggles and testimonies of some trans women in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) have recently been documented through broadcast media, creative writing and performance, there have been no qualitative studies undertaken to specifically and critically explore trans women’s lives in Canada’s most easterly province. My graduate research, therefore, is a call to action for increased scholarship about trans women, our lives and health, as well as for the development of a unique method of documentation. Using auto/ethnography, oral history, and ethnopoetics, I emphasize an arts-based approach to the study of trans women's health, and argue that creative analyses reveal salient details about our lives that are overlooked by quantitative methods used in clinical, epidemiological and psychological studies. Threaded together by theories of trans embodiment, place and emotional geographies, this presentation draws from a diverse set of local, trans women’s knowledges to explore how our health is bound up in temporal and socio-spatial relations, as well as the ways that our subjectivities in NL are formed, managed and performed through narrative and history.

Tuesday, 13 March, 12:00 p.m.

Krysta Fitzpatrick, Master of Gender Studies Candidate, Memorial University

The Suburban Witch: Capitalism, Control, and White Womanhood in Popular Culture

Who is the suburban witch and what is her purpose and relevance? First appearing in popular culture in the 1940s, the figure of the suburban witch has been a prevalent character within the suburban gothic genre for more than 70 years, but what does the creation of this fictional character have to say about suburban, white womanhood, male anxiety and megalomania, and her historical predecessor, the New England witch? Through an examination of her representation within literature and film, I hope to answer these questions about a character I hold near and dear.

Friday, 6 April, 12:00 p.m.

Dwayne Avery, Communication Studies, Memorial University

The Maternalocene: The Infertility of Gaia in Post-Apocalyptic

In this lecture I examine the problematic ways environmental disaster films link the problem and cure of earth’s degradation to women’s fertility. On the one hand, by framing global environmental problems in terms of women’s fertility, these media discourses rightly foreground how environmental activism cannot be divorced from pertinent gender issues, like mediated images of motherhood. On the other hand, while these films offer, at times, liberating images of mothers, especially as many are imagined as escaping the idealized norms enforced by patriarchy, the reductionist and natalist nature of these films tend to promote a neo-conservative perspective on women’s bodies. By insisting that women’s social value is found only within their capacity to procreate, many of these narratives unfortunately recuperate the patriarchal norms they attempt to critique.


Gender Studies

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000