UNCA announces Women’s History Month events

Press release from UNC Asheville:

To mark Women’s History Month 2020, in March, UNC Asheville will present a documentary narrated by Jodie Foster about one of cinema’s pioneers, Alice Guy-Blaché, and a series of talks about suffrage and feminism in different times and places in the South. All Women’s History Month events are free and open to everyone.

March 3 – Documentary Film: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, with discussion led by filmmaker, screenwriter and UNC Asheville Senior Lecturer in Mass Communication Anne Slatton

· Narrated by Jodie Foster, this 2018 documentary that screened at the famed festivals in Cannes and Telluride, tells the story of a French pioneer filmmaker, who began her career in 1894, at the age of 21. One of the very first people to make a narrative fiction film, Guy-Blaché produced and directed over 1000 films throughout her career, experimented with sound, color-tinting, interracial casting, and special effects. Even before women had the right to vote, Blaché, in her actions and in her films, expressed female drives, desires and self-determination. But by 1919, Guy-Blaché’s career came to an abrupt end and she and her films were subsequently erased from film history for years. Pamela Green organizes her documentary like a detective story, interviewing over 90 people and tracking down not only some of her films but previously unknown documents and photos. 6 p.m., Highsmith Student Union, Blue Ridge Room.

March 17 – Lecture: “You Have to Start a Thing” – Early Women in N.C. Governance, presented by Biltmore Historic Interpreter Catherine Amos (UNC Asheville class of 2017); and Collections Manager and Lead Archivist, N.C. Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Katherine Calhoun Cutshall (UNC Asheville Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2016)

· In 1894, Asheville became the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina when Helen Morris Lewis formed the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina, the first of its kind in the state. This talk will explore how Helen Morris Lewis, Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, and Leah Arcouet Chiles could all be viewed as iterations of an emerging figure that was emblematic of this zeitgeist of women’s advancement–The New Woman. These women were elected to public offices that previously had been exclusively held by men, before most of the women had even obtained the right to vote. This presentation also will explore the idea of Asheville and Buncombe County as an environment that produced progressive and professional women, and the suffrage movement in North Carolina. Noon, Highsmith Student Union, Mountain Suites.

March 19 – Lecture: Molasses Catches More Flies Than Vinegar: Woman Suffrage in Western North Carolina, presented by Sharon Baggett Withrow, former director of education and Smith-McDowell House Museum and WNC Historical Association (MA, public history, NC State)

· North Carolina’s woman suffrage movement was born in the mountains. This talk will explore how suffragists and their supporters in Western N.C. used existing preconceptions and power structures to win the right to vote. Noon, Highsmith Student Union, Mountain Suites.

March 31 – Lecture: Women’s Liberation through a Different Prism: The View from Austin, presented by University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor of History Laurie Green, author of Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle

· Green launched the intergenerational Austin Women Activists Oral History Project at the University of Texas, which has brought together students of today and women activists in the 1960s and 1970s, along with faculty and staff from different parts of the university. The project has resulted in a digital oral history collection, a film, and other productions that call some of the now-familiar narratives of the Women’s Liberation Movement into question. Her talk will be based, in part, on this collaborative endeavor. 6 p.m., Highsmith Student Union, Mountain Suites.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Manely in UNC Asheville’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, cmanely@unca.edu or 828.251.6634.

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