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March Events Bring Women Writers and Activists to Campus

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International Women’s Day and Berkshire Festival of Women Writers connect women from across the globe and across the region

During the month of March, activities will take place across the county celebrating women, their achievements, and their writing. Foregrounding these events, on Saturday, March 5th, people from around the world will converge at Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s Daniel Arts Center for the 10th annual International Women’s Day Conference (IWD).

Complimenting the one-day Conference, the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers (BFWW) will present numerous events—lectures, films, readings, and workshops—throughout the month of March. Several events will take place on the Simon’s Rock campus.

The theme of IWD, “Women Write the World,” brings together poets, novelists, academics, journalists, and other leaders to celebrate women’s achievements and address common issues.

Simon’s Rock has sponsored IWD since 2002, when Professor Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez began organizing the Conference.

This year’s theme is a double entendre that points to the relationship between writing and “righting,” the ongoing project of extending equal rights to women. Browdy de Hernandez developed the idea while teaching courses on human rights and activism.

Attendees will hear from speakers who work on a range of issues including sexuality, health, environmental issues, and domestic violence.

The keynote will be delivered by Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author of Living Downstream. Steingraber was diagnosed with bladder cancer in her twenties. As a scientist, she investigated the water table where she grew up, identifying her cancer as part of a cluster of illnesses in the polluted area.

Browdy de Hernandez calls Living Downstream “a beautiful book that combines autobiography with science writing.”

Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

The Festival extends the celebration and camaraderie of the one-day Conference for an entire month. It focuses on the work of local women, providing an opportunity to connect the local to the global, and allowing participants to forge connections and build community.

The highlight of BFWW will be a reading and lecture given by Alison Bechdel ’79 on March 7th in the Daniel Arts Center’s McConnell Theater. Bechdel, a graphic artist and cartoonist, is known for the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For and her critically acclaimed graphic memoir Fun Home.

This is just one of the many associated events that will take place on the Simon’s Rock campus and around the county. Others Include:

  • A panel discussion of Browdy de Hernandez’s newest book 
  • A round-table featuring novelists, poets, and journalists moderated by Professor Mileta Roe
  • Dance performances
  • A screening of the documentary adaptation of Living Downstream

A complete Conference program and list of Festival events can be found here.