A flurry of extended excitement could be detected at Bryn Mawr from the moment Judith Butler’s Mary Flexner Lectureship was announced until many students had their parting words with the scholar at the book signing on November 21st. I shared this excitement with my peers and think it is certainly a testament to the intellectual curiosity and passion that makes the Bryn Mawr student body so unique. Learning never stops here; the dining hall is just as filled with academic chatter as the classroom. This is one of the central reasons I chose to transfer to Bryn Mawr and one of the things that I will miss most when I graduate next week. I look forward to the day that my Judith Butler themed Flexner Lectureship t-shirt is acknowledged and complimented outside the Bryn Mawr bubble and desperately hope that it is even a possibility.
As one of the student coordinators and attendees of the “Coffee Hour with Judith Butler” and “Conversations with Judith Butler” dinner events, I was fortunate enough to witness the humorous and down-to-earth sides of the scholar we mostly associate with lofty theory and sharp intellect. Interacting with Butler’s theory and critical analysis as a Flexner Book Club blogger posed an interesting contrast with conversations I had with her about Lady Gaga, fine dining in Philadelphia and her affinity for the Bryn Mawr gym. She quelled the worries of skeptics like myself that her work is detached from grassroots activism and spoke at length about her personal involvement with a number of social justice movements to create a more livable set of lives. In fact, she told me that remaining engaged with feminist theory will help fuel my activism and advocacy work; she sees academia and activism as collaborative and co-supportive.
At the beginning of her final lecture, she said: “It will change my thinking and writing that I have spent time here.” And it is certainly safe to say that my journey as a Flexner Lecture Book Club blogger engaging with Butler’s work has changed my thinking, writing and approach to feminist activism.