My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Monday, March 11, 2024

March 11, 2024: NeMLA Reflections: Opening Address

[This past weekend I attended the one scholarly conference I never miss: the Northeast MLA. It was a great time as it always is, so as usual here’s a series of reflections on some of the great work I heard, saw, and shared there! Leading up to a few more reflections on NeMLA as an organization!]

On three important layers to opening speaker Dr. Rickie Solinger’s public scholarly work.

1)      Books: Like every scholarly keynote speaker I’ve ever encountered at NeMLA, Dr. Solinger brought a long and prolific publishing career with her to that podium. In this case, that career has centered on a range of different publications tracing the history and significance of reproductive politics in the United States, from monographs like Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade (1992) and The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law (2019) to textbooks like Reproductive Justice: An Introduction (2017, co-authored with Loretta Ross). We can’t talk about reproductive politics in our own moment without engaging with those multilayered histories and issues, and Dr. Solinger’s publications offer a great starting point for that work.

2)      Exhibitions: As I know everyone reading this blog would agree with, scholarly publications are far from the only way to get our voices and ideas to audiences and into our conversations, and in her work as a curator Dr. Solinger has also consistently done so through another medium: museum exhibitions, both installed and traveling. A great example is 2013’s Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States, a traveling exhibition which as that write-up describes featured five mixed-media installations that offered a variety of ways to present the voices, perspectives, identities, experiences, and communities of its focal women. I had the chance many years back to be part of a planned traveling exhibition for the then-in-development American Writers Museum, I can attest to the incredible work that curators as well as artists put into these exhibitions, making them very much a form of collaborative public scholarship.

3)      Engagement: As the NeMLA talk itself reflected of course, Dr. Solinger, like most of us interested in public scholarship, finds many opportunities to share her work beyond those more formal forms. That includes not only more familiar forms like this compelling NeMLA keynote address, but other and more unusual opportunities like the chance to talk with an adoption rights blogger, or a lunchtime conversation (alongside her co-author Loretta Ross) with a student group like UMass Students for Reproductive Justice. Every NeMLA keynote speaker I’ve seen has been distinct in important ways, but one linking thread has been their desire to connect with audiences, including but far beyond that conference community, and Dr. Solinger embodies that goal to be sure.

Next reflection tomorrow,


PS. If you were at NeMLA, what would you share? If not or in any case, other organizations you’d highlight?

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