The Politics of Family, Sex, and Gender — American Studies Conference March 19
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The Politics of Family, Sex, and Gender — American Studies Conference March 19

Fairfield University’s 4th annual American Studies Conference will host a roundtable discussion entitled, “The Politics of Family, Sex, and Gender and What It Means — or Doesn't — For the Elections of 2016,” on Saturday, March 19 at 4 p.m. in the Aloysius P. Kelley Center Presentation Room. 

The free, public conference, which runs from 12 to 6 p.m., will feature Jonathan Rauch, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution;Rev. Matt Malone, S.J., editor-in-chief of America: The National Catholic Review and Dr. Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, professor in the Government Department and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Cornell University. 

Dr. Peter Bayers, director of the American Studies Program at Fairfield University, explained that the conference’s theme of “Family, Sex, and Gender in American Culture” is especially relevant in our current election year. “The institution and the very definition of the family in U.S. culture has been front and center in political discourse leading up to the elections of 2016,” said Dr. Bayers. “From presidential candidates’ comments on gay marriage; to references to the economic struggles of families; to remarks about the effects of immigration policies on families; to conversations on prison reform and its effects on families, one might argue that the health of the family unit — its importance and how it is defined — is central to the stability and future of the United States.” 

‌‌Sponsored by Fairfield’s American Studies Program, as well as The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, the conference will start with student scholar presentations from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. that will cover a wide-range of historical and cultural perspectives that encapsulate the conference’s theme. At 4 p.m., panelists Rauch, Rev. Malone S.J. and Dr. Katzenstein will expand on these issues in their roundtable discussion.  

‌‌Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit public policy organization that conducts independent research on issues such as social policy, education and international affairs. The author of six books, Rauch has also penned a number of articles on public policy, culture and government, while also writing on topics as diverse as adultery, economics, gay marriage and animal rights. He is also a contributing editor of National Journal, a research and insights company, as well as The Atlantic, and is a recipient of the 2005 National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.  

‌Editor-in-Chief of America: The National Catholic Review, Rev. Malone was the youngest in the magazine’s history to hold the position at the time of his appointment in 2012. Prior to his tenure at America, Rev. Malone was a speechwriter and special assistant to U.S. Representative Martin T. Meehan (D-MA) from 1995 to 1997, and went on to serve as the deputy director of MassINC, an independent political think tank, and co-publisher of CommonWealth, an award-winning review of politics, ideas and civic life. 

‌Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, the Stephen and Evalyn Milman Professor of American Studies Emerita, is a professor in Cornell University’s Government Department and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. She has written extensively on comparative feminist activism, focusing her studies on the United States, Europe and India. While her teaching interests center on Comparative and American politics with a special focus on India, Katzenstein is currently researching the issues of movement activism, incarceration and citizenship in the United States. 

Dr. Bayers hopes that conference will provide an enlightening look at the idea of family in the current election season. “The American Studies Program is excited to bring together experts in a wide-ranging roundtable to address pressing questions about the family in American culture, and what it means — or doesn’t — for the elections of 2016.” 

To register for the conference or the roundtable discussion, visit

By Nicole Funaro '17

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Last modified: Thu, 03 Mar 2016 14:55:18 EST

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