Avakian, Arlene Voski (interviewee)

Arlene Avakian oral history with Amy Cutler, interview 1, part 1, August 15, 2001

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Recording index

(00:00:03) - Introductions

(00:01:31) - How Avakian came to women’s issues; birth of her brother when she was six and a half; becoming aware that she lived in a patriarchy.

(00:03:30) - Growing up in New York City; emotional connection to Civil Rights Movement.

(00:04:40) - Feeling like she was too late for the women’s movement when it began, as a woman who was married with children.

(00:06:25) - Moved to the Pioneer Valley because the women’s movement was strong in the Valley.

(00:09:23) - Memories of hearing the word feminism/feminist; identifying as a women’s liberationist; the connection of women’s liberation to other liberation movements; feminism as a step backwards, as a connection to bourgeois women’s movements.

(00:10:48) - Connection of women’s liberation to race.

(00:10:48) - Moving to the Pioneer Valley.

(00:13:25) - Participation on the Women’s Studies subcommittee of the UMass Faculty Senate; the difference between the female studies program at Cornell University and women’s studies at UMass.

(00:15:20) - African American women’s responses to the UMass Women’s Studies program; transition from women’s studies to feminist studies

(00:16:42) - Discussion of Ladies’ Tea and Mau Mau Society.

(00:17:30) - Avakian relates her academic situation at this time; becoming involved in women’s history; problems with the Department of History’s curriculum.

(00:22:40) - Struggle with the UMass administration to launch women’s studies program.

(00:26:50) - The beginning structure of Women’s Studies program

(00:29:28) - Curriculum development in Women’s Studies program

(00:31:50) - Decision-making process in Women’s Studies program through an open policy board; democratic versus bureaucratic program organization.

(00:34:45) - Disagreement between Dale Melcher and Avakian over whether Women’s Studies should be a social change agent.

(00:36:35) - Transition from pilot program to separate billing in course catalog.

(00:38:48) - Attracting students to Women’s Studies; students threaten to take over a building; Women’s Studies holds a teach-in to answer student concerns about the administration’s failure to evaluate the pilot program in a timely manner.

(00:41:28) - The next steps for Women’s Studies.

Discussing Avakian's activist in women's issues and social justice and the founding of the Women's Studies Department at UMass Amherst.

Place:
Amherst (Mass.)
Extent:
00:41:46; audiocassette
Language:
English
Subject(s):
interviewer:
Cutler, Amy
Genre:
Location:
Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
MS 531
Rights:
Requests to publish, redistribute, or replicate this material should be addressed to the Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.
Identifier:
mums531-oh-i001
Cite as:
Avakian, Arlene Voski. Arlene Avakian oral history with Amy Cutler, interview 1, part 1, August 15, 2001. Valley Women's History Collaborative Records (MS 531). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
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