Two years ago, Marian University introduced the gender studies minor, an interdisciplinary minor that allows students to study and understand the impact of gender. On April 6, Olivia Gehrich ’14, spoke to peers at the annual gender studies conference at Notre Dame University. In May, Gehrich will be one of the first students to graduate with the gender studies minor.
The conference, titled Bursting Gender’s Bubble, spanned over two days and consisted of five panels with a total of 33 presentations. The research presented at the conference came from many disciplines, ranging from sociology to literature and science. For the conference, Gehrich presented her senior thesis, “The Sacrament of Sexual Agency: A Feminist Critique of Mary Gordon’s Final Payments.”
In her presentation, Gehrich shows how patriarchal religions undermine female sexual agency by controlling women through the male gaze. Gehrich began this project in the special topics course, “Representations of Catholicism in Literature.” She then continued her research in Senior Seminar, which is Marian University’s senior capstone class.
Gehrich is a senior English major with minors in theatre and gender studies. Prior to the conference, she presented a photo essay project on gender at the Marian University Undergraduate Conference in Excellence in Research and Scholarship. Gehrich took photos of Marian University students posing with different props that are usually associated with a certain gender.
In addition to research opportunities, the gender studies program offers many opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom. Throughout the year, the program holds “Dinner and Discussion,” where faculty, staff, and students are invited to come together and talk about various gender-related topics over dinner.
Gehrich’s presentation “The Sacrament of Sexual Agency: A Feminist Critique of Mary Gordon’s Final Payments” will be offered again at the Honors Research Conference on Friday, May 2. Prior to graduation, the Honors Research Conference is held annually as an opportunity for senior honors students to present the research they’ve done over the past four years.