WMU News

Conference explores labor, leisure in America

March 2, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- The influence labor and leisure have had on American culture and history will be the focus of a conference being held in March at Western Michigan University.

More than 100 participants from across the country and Canada will be on campus Friday through Sunday, March 12-14, for "Labor and Leisure in Everyday Lives," the Great Lakes American Studies Association annual conference being held at the Fetzer Center.

"The conference will take a look at labor and leisure and how they interact," says Dr. Linda J. Borish, WMU associate professor of history and conference coordinator. "These are often seen in conflict with each other but they influence everything in our culture including art, history, sports and music."

The conference will feature numerous presentations on labor and leisure and their impact on such topics as literature, race, gender, communities, time and the work environment. Specific topics will range from "Buildings, Space and Culture in Michigan" to "Athletics, Gender and Race."

Among conference activities will be a Friday evening performance of the play "Illinois Labor Works" by the Labor History Theater Performers. On Saturday evening, conference participants will visit the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven to view exhibits on Great Lakes labor and leisure.

On Saturday, renown women's studies scholar Dr. Alice Kessler-Harris will deliver the keynote address for the conference. Kessler-Harris, professor of history at Rutgers University, is the author of three books including "A Woman's Wage: Historical Meanings and Social Consequences" and "Women Have Always Worked: An Historical Overview." Her contributions to the study of women and labor have brought her numerous awards and accolades, including a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship and two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. She was a 1995 recipient of a Fulbright award and was named a fellow with the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in 1997.

Another feature of the conference will be a grant-writing workshop conducted by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Douglas Arnold of the NEH Division of Research and Education programs will conduct the workshop on Saturday March 13 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Arnold will also be available for individual grant writing appointments on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For more information regarding the conference, call Borish at (616) 387-4631.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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