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The Past, Present, and Future of the Wench: Consent, Labor, Reproductive Justice (EGSO Conference Keynote)

Friday, March 15, 2024 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, Kauffman Auditorium (G64)
232 East Ave, Central Campus

When we hear the word "wench," we often picture a jolly woman at a Renaissance Fair serving oversized beers in a low-cut blouse. This lecture explores the troubling history of the concept of the "wench," tracing how she originated in the Middle Ages as a figure embodying femininity, servile labor, sexuality, and reproduction. It focuses particularly on medieval retellings of the story of Hagar and Sarah in the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible and explores how and why "wench" became the standard term for enslaved Black women in the United States. In providing this long history, it uncovers how the wench is intimately bound up in issues of race, consent, feminine power, and reproductive justice. 

Join the English Graduate Student Organization (EGSO) at Cornell for this year's EGSO Graduate Conference keynote address by Carissa Harris, Associate Professor of English at Temple University. EGSO is a registered student organization at Cornell University.

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