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January 9, 2012

Stanford University symposium, exhibits, talk by Gloria Steinem commemorate Ms. magazine's 40 years

Stanford University will mark the 40th anniversary of Ms. magazine with a winter quarter series of events titled "Ms. at 40 and the Future of Feminism." The keynote address, on Jan. 26, will be delivered by founding editor Gloria Steinem.

1972 cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine

Forty years ago, a new word entered the common lexicon: Ms.

The magazine by that name became one of the passwords of the women's movement, and one of its founders, Gloria Steinem, became one of its most iconic symbols.

Stanford University will mark the 40th anniversary of Ms. magazine with a winter quarter series of more than 25 events called "Ms. at 40 and the Future of Feminism." The symposium, which will run from January into March, will feature lectures, panel discussions, performances, exhibits and an international, multigenerational essay contest.

The keynote address, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, will be delivered by Steinem in CEMEX Auditorium at the Graduate School of Business.

Earlier on Jan. 26, there will be a panel discussion about the role Ms. played over the last 40 years, and the challenges and opportunities feminist journalism will face in the future. Speakers will include current Executive Editor Katherine Spillar; other former Ms. editors – Suzanne Braun Levine, Marcia Ann Gillespie and Helen Zia; and young feminist bloggers Shelby Knox and Miriam Pérez. That event will be held at the Stanford Humanities Center at 3 p.m. The panel will be moderated by history Professor Estelle Freedman.

Other events include:

One of the chief organizers of the series, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, a professor of English, thought back to when it all started: "When I organized a symposium at Yale on the 10th anniversary of Ms. magazine in 1982, everyone marveled at the fact that such a brazenly feminist magazine had managed to last 10 years.

"It not only survived 30 more years, but it thrived, playing a vital role in helping two generations enlarge the canvas on which women and men can paint their lives. Feminism has profoundly reshaped the social, political and cultural landscape over the last four decades."

To mark the anniversary, Stanford faculty members and editors of the magazine selected 40 Ms. covers from the past 40 years and used them as the inspiration for an international essay contest. The nearly 300 contestants, ranging in age from 14 to 81, submitted 150-word entries from around the globe on domestic violence, housework, sexuality, body images and politics, to name just a few of their many topics. From Jan. 10 through March 23, the 10 winning essays and the covers that inspired them will be on display in Green Library, while all 40 covers and the winning essays will be on exhibit at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

A video slideshow of art featured in Ms. is running in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco through the month of January and in the Cummings Art Building on the Stanford campus Jan. 20-31.

Ms. was founded in 1972, taking as its name the honorific title championed by women who held the then controversial opinion that they should not be identified by their marital status.

Like all print publications, the magazine underwent economic turbulence in recent years. It also has had to weather shifts as the young women of so-called second-wave feminism, Steinem's generation, became mothers and then grandmothers. Since 2001, the magazine has been published by the nonprofit Feminist Majority Foundation, and it is now a quarterly print publication, which complements the Ms. blog.

Steinem began her professional life as a journalist, which she soon combined with political and feminist activism. She has been a prominent figure in the anti-war movement, campaigns for animal rights and reproductive rights, and electoral politics. She was a co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971 and frequently provides support for Democratic candidates. She was associated with Ms. as an editor or writer from its founding until 1987. Today, she serves on the magazine's advisory board and contributes to the magazine on occasion. She has written several books.

The Stanford winter symposium is sponsored by the American Studies Program, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Feminist Studies Program, along with over 30 other programs, centers and other Stanford entities. In addition to Fishkin, organizers of the quarter-long symposium are Shelley Correll, associate professor of sociology; Estelle Freedman, professor of history; and Heather Hadlock, associate professor of music.

Tickets for Steinem's Jan. 26 keynote will be available Friday, Jan. 13, at the Stanford Ticket Office on the second floor of Tresidder Union. All symposium events are free and open to the public, though some require advance registration. For more information and a complete program, see

Editor Note:

Reporters interested in interviewing the organizers or panelists, including Steinem, should contact Elaine Ray, Media wishing to cover the Jan. 26 panel discussion or keynote also should contact Ray in advance.



Elaine Ray, Campus Communications: (650) 723-7162,

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