March Brings Women's History into the Spotlight Public Invited to Hear Astronaut and Authors, Attend Plays and Videos

Space exploration, marriage expectations, self-image examination -- this year's organizers of Tennessee Technological University's Women's History Month activities chose several topics to send one message -- seize every opportunity to learn.

Former NASA astronaut Rhea Seddon and author Elaine Tyler May will be featured speakers during the university's March activities, which will be free and open to the public. The calendar also includes "A Letter from Ruth," a play exploring the relationships of three generations of black women who struggle to break the barriers that separate them.

"Our speakers will be talking about topics broader than their own daily work," said Gretta Stanger, director of Tennessee Tech's Women's Center. "Dr. Seddon will talk about the future for women in science, and May will help the audience develop an awareness about the diversity that can exist in research."

May, a social historian whose work centers on the intersections of politics and private life, has written four books on women's history and history of the family. Her research focuses on changing expectations for marriage in the early 20th century, the relationship between public life, family and sexuality in the Cold War era, women's history in the post-World War II era, and the history of reproduction in America.

A professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, May will talk about her latest book, "Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness," at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 6, in TTU's Johnson Hall Auditorium, and at 11 a.m., Tuesday, March 7, in the Roaden University Center's OVC Room.

On Tuesday, March 28, Seddon, who participated in three NASA space flights and logged more than 722 hours in space, will speak in TTU's Johnson Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m. In her current position as assistant chief medical officer at Vanderbilt University Medical School, she assisted in the preparation of cardiovascular experiments that flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in April 1998.

The front yard of a rural home in the South provides the setting for "A Letter from Ruth," to be presented in TTU's Backdoor Playhouse at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23. The play explores how black women deal with the ever-changing definitions of womanhood, self image and society's expectations.

Other campus events include a presentation by Antoinette Larkin, an Irish-born author and University of Cincinnati professor with an interest in contemporary Irish women's writings. She will talk about Irish feminism at 3 p.m. Monday, March 27, in TTU's T.J. Farr Building, Room 205.

The TTU Women's Center will also show videos at noon on select Wednesdays during March in Pennebaker Hall, Room 203: