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Oct. 21, 2016
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University will welcome the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish university, a scholar of literature, a poet and memoirist as the next guest for its Distinguished Lecture Series.
Dr. Joy Ladin will be the featured lecturer at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, in the Charles Johnson Theater at the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Ladin will explain how her childhood experience of hiding both her transgender identity and her relationship with God has led her to see transgender experience as enriching rather than challenging, opposing or “queering” religious tradition.
“Joy’s work is very honest about the challenges and rewards she’s met in her decision to transition openly,” Kenton Wilcox, the chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series Committee and an English instructor at the University, said. “Her integration of her transition with her religious life can enrich all students’ inquiries into the meaning of body and gender, their religious beliefs and how those ideas interact.”
Ladin is Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University. She was named to the 2012 Forward 50 list of influential or courageous American Jews.
She is the author of six books of poetry, and her work has been recognized with a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship and an American Council of Learned Societies research fellowship. Her memoir, “Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders,” was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award.
Ladin visited Northwest in 2007 to read her book, “Inside/Out: Woman Caught in the Act of Becoming,” which detailed the challenges of her transgender experience.
“Northwest has hosted a series of speakers addressing trans issues, and the Distinguished Lecture Committee wanted to bring a writer and academic to advance that conversation, not least in terms of helping us better understand how to serve our trans population both on and off campus,” Wilcox said.
The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Student Involvement, the series presents the Northwest campus and surrounding communities with opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals from around the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight and experiences.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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