Writer Jen Kennedy and artist Liz Linden led a discussion Monday on topics ranging from Congressman Todd Akin to the differences between The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, but all discussions revolved around the central theme of the portrayal of women in the news.
Monday’s New York Times Feminist Reading Group — the first of four discussions about events relating to feminism as reported by The New York Times — took place in the Forum at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Kennedy and Linden attended the Whitney Independent Study Program together from 2008-09 and have since collaborated on multiple projects that explore feminism. Their work has been showcased at multiple museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum.
Participants analyzed how women are depicted in the newspaper through a discussion of all the photos that showed women, such as one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney where the only women in the photo are taking pictures of him. The event also discussed the photos that did not show women, as well as the news articles accompanying the photos.
Kennedy started the event with commentary on the word “feminism” itself.
“It’s important to have these sort of shorthand for communication … we need a kind of concise, accurate shorthand to communicate a set of ideas,” Kennedy said. “[Feminism] doesn’t mean everything we want it to at all moments.”
The pair has previously led New York Times readings, but typically at museums with other artists.
“Here you get people who are studying journalism, or work in social sciences or whatever,” Linden said about holding the event at USC. “There’s a really wide range of interests and, as a result, the comments are a bit more diverse.”
Kennedy and Linden were originally contacted by the former dean of the Roski School of Fine Arts, Rochelle Steiner, to come to USC as part of the Visions and Voices initiative. The dean of each school is required to put together an event for the program.
Kate Strand, special events coordinator for Roski helped organize the event and said one thing she found interesting was “how feminism can tie into stories about art.”
Pardes Seleh, a student taking a psychology course at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, originally came to earn extra credit for her course, but said she ended up learning more from the event.
“It’s nice to be in a room with people and get to see … why people think the way they do,” Seleh said.
The series will continue Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Forum Room on the fourth floor of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.