Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Spring 2012 Vol. 107 No. 2 OAM Home | Oberlin Online




Voices of the Women’s Health Movement (Two Volumes)

Any question about whether women’s health is a political issue has been put to rest by the roiling debates surrounding reproductive rights during this election year. At the forefront of understanding that the very personal was very political was pioneering science journalist Barbara Seaman ’56 (honorary doctorate ’78), who died in 2008 just as she was completing this two-volume collection of writing on women’s health. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Shulamith Firestone, Angela Davis, Erica Jong, Shere Hite, and Susan Brownmiller are included, along with Philip Corfman ‘50, Laura Yeager ‘85, Karen Bekker ‘94, and Seaman, founder of the National Women’s Health Network, who contributed a dozen essays. Of particular interest is the eerily prescient account, by Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, of 1970 senate hearings related to the birth-control pill. Although the discussion was prompted by Seaman’s groundbreaking book The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill, neither she—nor any women—were invited to testify, prompting vocal protests at the hearing. With nearly 200 essays packed into more than 800 mostly pictureless pages, it might seem relentless; given the way the medical establishment had approached women’s health before Seaman came along in the 1960s, it seems appropriately so.



On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling

Dirda shares something in common with the character Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick: They are both so enthralled with figures they admire that their own life stories become entwined with the subject they write about. Dirda tells of being drawn into The Hound of the Baskervilles, a strong shove for a curious young Ohio boy into the deeper waters of a reading life and, eventually, a book reviewer’s spot at the Washington Post and a Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

Read an article about Michael Dirda '70 written by Michael Dirda '09.



The Orphaned Land: New Mexico’s Environment Since the Manhattan Project

The phrase "Land of Enchantment" showed up on New Mexico’s license plates in 1941, and for decades that’s been its widely accepted sobriquet. The Orphaned Land tells a different story: environmental degradation as the result of munitions testing, hazardous waste, and radioactive emissions, among other issues. The photographs show the beauty and the ruin, often seen side-by-side.



Faculty and First-Generation College Students: Bridging the Classroom Gap Together

Housel is an associate professor at Hope College and a first-generation college student, and she draws on both in this collection of recent research from the New Directions for Teaching and Learning series. Campuses across the country are recognizing the culture shock and the particular needs of first-generation students, thanks in part to Housel’s research and advocacy. Housel visited Oberlin in February as part of the First in the Family speaker series.



Relativity for the Questioning Mind

In Styer’s world, houses travel 20 miles per hour, while moving cars move at zero mph. Crazy? Only because we’re used to measuring the speed of the car within the Earth’s time frame and not within, say, the car’s time frame. Styer explains it all with conversational language, simple illustrations, and a gentle wit (he warns the reader not to use reference frames to try to escape a speeding ticket). Despite the complex subject, Styer makes clear the joy he takes in it.