The University of San Francisco: College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight Spring 2012

April 2012: Spotlight on Women and Violence Research Group & Book Club

In the fall of 2011, the Women and Violence Research Group and the student-centered Gender and Sexuality Center at USF decided to collaborate and create a book club.

The goal? To provide an impetus for broader discussions on the topic of women and violence within the USF community.

The hope? That both women and men would come together and think about women and violence in a different way, and to truly understand, through open discussion, what constitutes violence and how it effects everyone.

The choice for the first book for the club was an easy decision. The Millennium Series – more commonly known as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” books –is currently one of the most widely read series around the world. And, with the U.S version of the films being released with such hype, most everyone has an opinion of the story.

I sat down to talk about the book club with Megan Gallagher, coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center, and Shawn Doubiago, adjunct professor of Comparative Literature and Culture and coordinator/co-organizer, along with Professor Annick Wibben, of the Women and Violence Research Group,.

Q: First off, can you explain why you chose the Millennium series?

Shawn: The series explicitly underscores social and cultural violence against women. The main protagonist of the series, Lisbeth Salander, is a victim of extreme violence, but she refuses the role of victim, fighting back by using her own moral compass as her guide. Lisbeth is quite controversial. Some see her as a feminist hero, others, as another victim of misogynistic violence. The series also involves other relevant issues taking place today – cyber hacking, corporate monopolizing of government, the ethics and public controversies of investigative journalism (ex: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks), etc. So much of what is found in the series is relevant for our dialogue.

Q: After this series is finished, how will you choose the next books to read?

Megan: This first semester we read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this semester we’re reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and the next semester we’ll hopefully be reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. We decide what we’ll be reading next as a group – it’s organic in nature.

Q: What do you hope the readers take away from these meetings?

Megan: We hope our participants think about women and violence in a different way.

Shawn: Yes, for example, what constitutes violence and how it affects us, and the importance of pausing to consider the implications of such violent representations when we read these books or see the films.

Megan: We hope to make women and violence a part of the conversation.

A screening of “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (Swedish version) will be held in September 2012.
Check out blog later this summer for event details.