UAHuntsville Women’s Studies Program sponsors nationally recognized author Lesléa Newman

Nationally recognized feminist writer, poet and human rights activist Lesléa Newman will give an anti-bullying presentation for high school, college and adult audiences this month on the campus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville).

Her talk entitled “He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard,” will be presented on Wednesday, November 28, at 7:30 p.m., in the university’s Chan Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student from the University of Wyoming was brutally murdered in 1998. Newman will use her address to promote tolerance, understanding, and an acceptance of diversity among all people. Immediately following the presentation there will be a book signing and reception.

On Thursday, November 29, at 11:10 a.m., Newman will offer a reading and presentation, geared specifically for students, called “The Gender Dance: Picture Books that Challenge Stereotypes,” as part of the UAHuntsville Honors Forum lecture series in the Shelby Center for Science and Technology room 107. The presentation is open to the public.

In 1998, when Newman arrived at The University of Wyoming (UW) to give a keynote speech, she found a devastated college campus and community. Six days prior to Newman’s visit, Matthew Shepard a student at UW was kidnapped, robbed, brutally beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. Shepard was found the next day, taken to a hospital and remained in a coma for five days until he died. Newman’s book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard tells the story of the impact of Matthew’s murder in poems.

Newman has received many literary awards including poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, and three Pushcart Prize Nominations. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists.

A prolific writer of adult and children’s publications, Newman is the author of more than 60 books including the newly released October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (September 2012); Hachiko Waits; Eating Our Hearts Out: Personal Accounts of Women’s Relationship to Food; Still Life With Buddy; A Sweet Passover; and her best known children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies.

Co-sponsors for Leslea Newman’s visit to UAHuntsville include the Office of Student Affairs (as part of its SafeZone program), the Office of Diversity, the Honors Program, the Humanities Center, POWER (the Women’s Studies student organization), the UAHuntsville Gay-Straight Alliance, and the Student Sociological Association. Community partners include the Alabama Writer’s Forum, the Interfaith Mission Service, the Interweave group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Huntsville, GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services and Temple B’nai Sholom.

For more information, please call Erin Reid at 256.824.6190 or email


Lectures on the History of Childbirth by Medical Historian Dr. Judith Walzer Leavitt


Dr. Judith Walzer Leavitt, an internationally recognized pioneer of research on medical history and women’s history, will deliver two public lectures at UAH on the history of childbirth.  Leavitt’s visit to UAH is sponsored by the UAH Women’s Studies Program with support from the UAH Humanities Center Eminent Scholars Program.

The first lecture, “Women and the Medicalization of Childbirth in American History,” will be September 20, 7:30 p.m., in Chan Auditorium of the Business Administration Building.

The second lecture, “Make Room for Daddy: Men’s Roles in Childbirth in Twentieth Century America,” will be September 22, 11:10 a.m., in the multipurpose room of Frank Franz Hall as part of UAH’s Honors Forum.

Both lectures are free and open to the public. 

Leavitt hails from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she is Rupple Bascom and Ruth Bleier Professor Emerita of Medical History & Bioethics, History of Science, and Gender and Women’s Studies.  She has published numerous articles and book chapters, delivered dozens of lectures in the United States and abroad, and authored or edited eight books on public health and women’s health in social, economic, and political contexts. Her UAH lectures are based on her two books Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1986) and Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from the Waiting Room to the Delivery Room (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).  She holds a B.S. degree in Social Sciences from Antioch College (1963) and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in History from the University of Chicago (1966 and 1975). 

For additional information on Leavitt, please see her webpage, which also includes a link to her CV.

Leavitt’s current research, which continues to examine gender and public health through the twentieth century, includes two projects, one which looks at home health care during the antibiotic transition and the second which carries forward her childbirth studies.


Dr. Molly Johnson

Director of Women’s Studies


Documentary on Mimi Hughes’ Swim for Girls and Women Showing at the Flying Monkey June 30

Those of you who attended the 2010 Women’s Studies EXPO might remember meeting Mimi Hughes, who swam the 981 miles of the Ohio River last summer to raise awareness and funds for girls’ and women’s education and life skills opportunities. Joanna Lord accompanied Mimi and shot footage — and Joanna’s documentary (Wider Than the River) is now ready for showings. You can see the film right here in Huntsville at the Flying Monkey on Saturday, July 30 at 2 & 4p, and both Mimi Hughes and Joanna Lord will be there!  You can also check out the film’s website.  For more information on Mimi Hughes’ work on behalf of women’s and girls’ education, see Women Across the World.

Please come and bring a friend!


Welcome to Women’s Studies at UAHuntsville! Our new website has just gone live, so please visit us. Thanks to all those who labored on this new site, and thanks to Rose Norman, who maintained the Women’s Studies Program website for almost two decades.