Welcome to friends of wine women and philosophy (wwp)

Monday, March 28, 2011

A tribute to painter Krystyna Fudakowska - Erdman

Over the weekend we attended wwp member Marta Fudakowska's homage to her mother, Krystyna Fudakowska-Erdman - an artist who expressed herself through painting and weaving, as well as a wide range of domestic arts.

Marta's tribute to her mother on the 10th anniversary of her death showcased Krystyna's paintings over the course of a 30 year period - from when she began painting in earnest in her 50s, working through her often traumatic wartime memories in Poland through abstract expressionism, to a more peaceful time in her life, which she captured in a mixed media series of beloved Sherbrooke landscapes.

Krystyna's moving artistic works were beautifully displayed at her granddaughter, Yasmin's, yoga studio in Pointe-Claire village. We were both touched by Marta's frank and kind words about her mother, and her request that we all take the time to think about the contributions and often overlooked talents of the special women in our lives. This is certainly a theme that is dear to our hearts at wine women and philosophy - it rings especially true in the week that our new Philosophy Club series, The Invisible Matron, is beginning.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Announcing our first Philosophy Club series: The Invisible Matron

What are we offering?
An immersive philosophical ex
ploration entitled The Invisible Matron, that meets once a week in Montreal West on a Thursday evening (7.30-9.30pm) over a six-week period. We use a combination of small lectures, assigned readings, "living philosophy" exercises, and group discussions to work the ideas that arise from both the corpus and the experiences of those participating in the course. Our readings will be drawn from writings by, among others, Carol Gilligan, Gloria Steinem, Carolyn Heilbrun, Luce Irigaray, Iris Marion Young, Kathleen Woodward, Germaine Greer, Roland Barthes, Joanna Frueh, Gilles Deleuze, Barbara MacDonald, May Sarton, Susan Griffin, Adrienne Rich, and Nel Noddings. We will explore the following themes:
  • the idea that women grow more radical as they age and acquire a different voice with which to speak ;
  • the traditional mind/body split within Western Philosophy that has failed to take seriously the lived bodily experiences of women in general, and women hitting midlife and beyond more specifically ;
  • the trope of the obedient and dutiful daughter ;
  • the ways we negotiate belonging and "fitting in" at different stages of our lives.
  • the monster/beauty paradigm that accompanies women's journey in and out of visibility and invisibility ;
  • how women's lives have been "written" in a wide range of media so as to conceal truths and reinforce stereotypes ;
  • the lost or hidden lives of "ordinary" women throughout history, and how these lives can be recuperated and reclaimed through traces like their diaries, letters, and photographs ;
  • the framings that society makes of women who lead both conventional lives and those who step outside of the conventions;
  • what it is to be an aging female "self" in a society that worships youth and has a very limited conception of female beauty and female "being-in-the-world.
What are the dates?
Week 1: March 31
Week 2: April 7
Week 3: April 14
Week 4: April 28
Week 5: May 5 - coincides with our bi-monthly salon, which is a forum discussion about The Invisible Matron
Week 6: May 12

How can I find out more? Go to our philosophy club page on our website. Please note that places on the course will be assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis and that priority will be given to our members.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Heraldry and Women

Last night's salon evening was a true collaboration between our Scottish members and our Montreal members. Thanks to Skype technology, we were able to beam Lanark, Scotland into our salon and enjoy a fabulous presentation on Scottish Heraldry from wwp member Kim Nicoll. Though the 5 hour time difference meant that Kim was burning the midnight oil as she clarified the difference between a coat of arms and a lozenge, a rampant lion and a unicorn, a motto and a supporter, she managed to keep us all riveted as she regaled us with tales from Scottish lore and provided telling insights into our Montreal members' family coat of arms.

The paucity of female representation within the domain of Heraldry prompted a counter-exploration of banners and placards from the women's suffragette movement and this in turn provided the perfect segue into Linnet's discussion of how symbolism has been conceptualized within the largely masculinist tradition of Western philosophy.

Starting with the etymology of the term symbolism, Linnet led us through the creation of a symbolon - an inscribed shard of pottery that was reminiscent of those used by the Ancient Greeks to recognize an alliance between city states, and from which the term originates. A glimpse at the work of Ernst Cassirer (1874 - 1945) - known as the father of symbolism - and of Jacques Lacan's (1901 - 1981) framing of the Symbolic Order (into which we are inducted with our acquisition of language as children), left us eager to find out more about a feminine approach to symbolism. This we found in the work of French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray (1932- ) who encourages us to draw on our bodily experience of the world and our sense of touch in creating language that "speaks as woman" and in working towards a symbolic support system that subverts "the master discourse" of philosophy.

After a brief exploration of how certain symbols have been misappropriated and reappropriated through the twentieth century - and by this time fully aware of the power and potency that symbols within our culture carry - Rona got us designing our own emblems. These emblems incorporated the qualities that were important to each of us and used words, images, textures and colours to do this. No two end results were alike and the exercise unleashed an exciting wave of creative and immersive participation... Luce Irigaray would not have been disappointed!

A very special thanks to Kim who ended up staying with us until her 3am (!) and whose depth of knowledge, and passion in sharing that knowledge, exemplifies everything that wwp hopes to be.
Thanks also to our fantastic members who made it here on a miserable winter's night. Their dedication was not only rewarded with an excellent salon but also, with scones, jam and Devonshire cream! Our next salon evening is scheduled for May 5th and is entitled "The Invisible Matron." We look forward to seeing you visibly represented at it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

Today - March 8th - we join women around the world in celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. In some countries, women will be marching in the streets; in others, they will be enjoying a day off (IWD is an official holiday in a handful of countries); in still others, women will be coming together to break bread and raise a toast to just how far we have come in the last century, and to just how far we can still go. Whether or not we are attending an official gathering - and you can read about events taking place near you, as well as catch up on the history of IWD, via this link - we can mark this important day in a more personal way too.

For example, in her Philosophy of Health class at Dawson College, Rona turned an examination of role models into a celebration of those girls and women in her students' lives who have been an inspiration to them. For her part, Rona told her class about her grandmother, Nan Brodie, who happens to be 2 years older than IWD and who continues to play an active part in her day-to-day life. As for Linnet, she is using the occasion to launch a recuperative family history project: finding out more about the lives of three female relatives who she never knew - Toronto-based librarian Doris Dignum, New York-based author Mary Graham Bonner, and UK-based grandmother Hilda Kerr Leaning - and is curious to learn more about.

All too often, women's histories and women's stories are lost due to name changes through marriage, to lines dying out when women do not bear children, or simply because nobody considered their achievements and their challenges, their joys and their sorrows, important enough to take note of in the first place. This means that when filling in the gaps in our fore-sisters' lives, we often have to abandon the "official" histories and turn, instead, to alternative sources: to diaries and letters, to recipe boxes and photo albums, to conversations with relatives, colleagues or friends who recall the person and can help you turn those little fragments of a life lived, into a more fully rounded picture.

So here is a call to action to wine women and philosophy members and friends: Let's use this 100th year celebration of IWD to spur us into bringing to light those girls and women who came before us, and whose histories and stories might be lost without our intervention. Sometimes, all we have to do is write or talk about a woman who has inspired us and share it with others - as Rona's students did this morning; as Ariana Huffington did in her piece about her mother in today's Huffington Post. If you are lucky enough to still have this woman in your life, why not tell her in person the difference she has made to you.

Pictured above are the Dignum sisters on holiday at a lake north of Toronto in the 1950s. From left to right: Doris, Larry (Linnet's grandmother), Nora, Edith, Evelyn and Gladys.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Forthcoming Salon Evening

A quick reminder that the next members' salon evening is on Thursday the 10th of March, same time, same place. The evening comprises 3 activities:

1: Scottish heraldry (guest speaker Kim Nicoll will be Skyped in from Lanark, Scotland to talk to us help us about Scottish heraldry) Pictured is Mary Queen of Scots' coat of arms

2: Designing your own code of ethics or coat of arms (Rona will guide us through the process and requests that you bring along any personal coat of arms that may be in your possession)

3 : Making sense of symbolism (Linnet takes a philosophical look at women and symbolism)

Sounds like fun! Let us know if you can make it along.