In celebration of Women's History Month, the Commission for Women highlighted three of UT's most successful female writers: Marilyn Kallet, director of creative writing, Margaret Lazarus Dean, associate professor of English and Stephanie Dugger, Ph.D. student in English.
Wednesday night's event in the Mary Greer Room, Women Writers at UT, gave these women the opportunity to share their creative work with students and faculties, all in the name of promoting women in a field where they are often not taken seriously.
Stephanie Metz, graduate assistant for the commission, introduced the writers and said she was excited for the work they are doing at UT.
"We wanted to celebrate this group of writers," Metz said. "I think a lot of times women have been shut out of the canon. People read their work, but we don't always think of them as the greatest writers in our culture.
"It's great to support (women) and show how great women writers are."
The commission, which reports to the vice chancellor of diversity, has organized several events during the month. Metz said she wanted students to feel supported and encouraged by the commission and its goals.
"The Commission for Women basically exists to serve the needs of women at UT, monitor or see if there's any issues going on with that group," Metz said. "We report to the vice chancellor of diversity. But our main goal with the event was to celebrate Women's History Month, kind of bring awareness to that."
The three women brought in diverse subject materials and backgrounds that came through in their writing. Dugger read from a nonfiction piece based on a childhood experience with her father. Dean described her many trips to the Cape Canaveral space launches in a piece from her memoir. Kallet performed a variety of erotic love poems and celebrations of the female body.
What the writers had in common, however, was more than their womanhood; it was their purpose of creating meaningful, artistic work that both transcends and celebrates difference in sex.
All three explained instances of being singled out based on their sex. For Kallet, it was condemnation for writing about the aging of the female body. For Dugger, it was finding the confidence to read her nonfiction for an audience. For Dean, it was not worrying about being the only girl on the bus to Cape Canaveral.
To further illustrate this, during the Q-and-A session Dean cited an experience teaching a male student about writing in a female perspective.
"You don't have to have your character walk down the street in a feminine way, sometimes we just walk down the street," Dean said. "There's more in common than there is different. ... That's one of the best things that fiction can teach us.
"If you try to imagine what it's like to be another person in a way that will be believable, then you've learned something about the commonality of all beings."
Her words, along with the words of Kallet and Dugger, served as inspiration for many in attendance, including Miranda Haney, senior in English.
"(Writing) is like a release," Haney said. "When you get to see other women's art, if you're ever stuck in a rut, they are great inspiration."