The History of the WGSS Program at OSU

Hello, my name is Ali Alkhalifa (he/they) and I am an incoming first-year Master's student in WGSS at The Ohio State University. Prior to being admitted into OSU's MA program, I received my Bachelor's degree from the very same WGSS program. I am indebted to the Department's inspiring faculty and community who invigorate my studies and life as a queer Arab feminist scholar trying to navigate the world. 

For my project, "The History of the WGSS Program at OSU," I have been given the astounding opportunity to research and create my own exhibit with Reclaiming Our Histories. When deciding on the topic of my archive, I arrived where I started at OSU: The WGSS Department. I have learned to reflect on my own positionality through feminist studies. So, in many ways, this exhibit has allowed me to ground myself in OSU's feminist studies and histories and reflect on how I can contribute to and honor those who came before me. This project has also granted me the opportunity to reflect on my experiences with WGSS and how they compare to its history.

I cannot think of a more robust transition into Graduate school than enriching myself with a history that teaches me about the brave and revolutionary scholars who have paved the way for me to be writing this research.

I hope my historicization of the Program can uncover the history of a forgotten and distant past when Women's Studies did not formally exist. When studying the issues of women, gender, and sexuality at a University was a controversial imagination. That said, I intend to trace the various shapes the Women's Studies Program at OSU has taken from the 1970s to today as an ad hoc committee, to Office, to Center, and eventually, to Department.

For this project, I reached out to past and present Department Chairs and Center Directors to interview them about their experiences and stories. Furthermore, I looked to The Lantern's virtual archive, as well as the Special Collections Library for more information. A lot of the integral contributions from the many faces of the University are lost and not easily accessible to students, so my archive will hopefully bridge that gap.

I believe that this project will prove valuable to current and future WGSS faculty members and students alike so that we can all better appreciate the feminist organizing and teaching that has shaped not only the Program, but the entire University as an institution. While navigating the exhibit, click on any photos, articles, and other ephemera to enlarge them to learn more about the individual items and stories held within them.

This archival exhibition also serves as a love letter to the field of study, faculty, and feminist community that embraces, empowers, and challenges me as a scholar and activist. By drawing from past and present feminist imaginations, I hope we can continue to imagine how feminisms can evolve and challenge institutional and systemic norms from the classroom and beyond! 

Introduction to Project and Author