Two major gifts to the Pembroke Center create a new postdoctoral fellowship and strengthen its archives initiative

March 6, 2019

A $1.5 million gift establishing the Shauna M. Stark ’76 P’10 Postdoctoral Fellow will support the Center’s teaching and research mission, while a $300,000 gift to the Pembroke Center Archives will help preserve and promote women’s history.

Two new gifts to the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women will enrich and invigorate scholarship at the Center and help extend the reach of its in-demand archives.

Shauna M. Stark ’76 P’10, a Pembroke Associates Council member, made a lead gift of $1.5 million to the Pembroke Center’s endowment campaign in support of postdoctoral fellowships, bringing the campaign more than halfway to its goal of $3 million. In addition, her $300,000 gift to the Pembroke Center Archives will fund a three-year assistant archivist position that will enable the Center to curate more women’s history collections on behalf of the John Hay Library.

2018-2019 Pembroke Center postdoctoral fellows Nicole Gervasio, Christopher Roberts and Erin Reitz2018-2019 Pembroke Center postdoctoral fellows Nicole Gervasio, Christopher Roberts and Erin Reitz“Postdoctoral fellows enrich the Pembroke Center’s thriving intellectual community while the archives are an inestimable resource of unique research materials by and about women,” Stark said. “My gift is intended to strengthen the Center’s impact on our society’s regard for women and communities of difference.”

By establishing a new postdoctoral fellowship, Stark has created an exciting new opportunity for emerging scholars and will help the Center build and deepen its scholarly community.

“The Pembroke Center has been studying and critiquing the idea of ‘difference’ since 1981,” said Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, director of the Pembroke Center. “Postdocs are the backbone of this continually evolving research mission – and their fresh, interdisciplinary scholarship helps us stay at the forefront of teaching and research year after year.”

Postdoctoral fellows spend a year in residence at the Pembroke Center, pursuing original research, teaching one undergraduate class, participating in the Pembroke Seminar and preparing for their careers within a collaborative, interdisciplinary scholarly community. For the 2018-2019 academic year, three postdoctoral fellows working in the fields of English and comparative literature, art history, and Africology and African American studies are pursuing research projects that probe how literature can confront genocidal violence, the role of art in the Black Panther Party’s outreach and self-representation, and how the memories of Black communities confront and disrupt white supremacist narratives associated with public monuments. The three fellows have taught popular undergraduate courses and participated in Center programming.

“We get so much from our postdoctoral fellows,” Stewart-Steinberg said. “New theories, great undergraduate teachers who invigorate the curriculum with new subjects of study, a livelier academic community and a distinguished research profile in the humanities.”

The Shauna M. Stark ’76 P’10 Postdoctoral Fellowship will advance teaching and research on “difference” with respect to gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, race and ethnicity, and will be open to scholars working in a wide range of disciplines. That it has been established just as the Pembroke Center has received record-high interest in such positions points to its critical importance, Stewart-Steinberg said.

“We had more than 130 applications – and applications of extremely high quality – for just three postdoctoral fellowships for 2019-2020,” said Stewart-Steinberg. “We on the review committee were struck by how many of those scholars referred to the Pembroke Center Archives, and outlined plans for using them in their research.”

The archives are in high demand because of their pertinence to contemporary scholarship across disciplines but also because of the depth of the collections.

Processing archival materials at the Pembroke CenterProcessing archival materials at the Pembroke CenterThe Pembroke Center Archives represent one of the first major efforts by a co-educational American university to purposely curate special collections by and about women. While other universities have just embarked on archival projects to forefront the work and papers of women, the Pembroke Center has been in partnership with the John Hay Library to collect women’s history at Brown for 37 years, said Mary Murphy, the Nancy L. Buc Pembroke Center Archivist.

The Center’s archives include the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archive and the Feminist Theory Archive. The Farnham Archive documents the history – including oral histories – of women and gender non-binary alums at Brown University as well as feminist practitioners in Rhode Island, spanning from the 19th century to the present. The Feminist Theory Archive collects the papers of feminist theorists and scholars of difference in the United States and internationally, spanning from the 1960s to the present.

Shauna M. Stark '76 P'10Shauna M. Stark '76 P'10Stark’s gift in support of the archives will add crucial staffing capacity, enhancing the Pembroke Center’s ability to build the archives and make their contents accessible. The assistant archivist will process and catalogue incoming material, and support Murphy, who identifies, manages, and promotes the collections, and works directly with researchers, faculty, and students. The deeper bench of staff will allow the Pembroke Center Archives to offer more instructional sessions for students and more in-depth research services for scholars of women’s history.

“I envision the Pembroke Center Archives at Brown University fully representing the lives, aspirations and achievements of women previously invisible to scholars,” Stark said. “I am delighted that in the two years since the Nancy L. Buc Pembroke Center Archivist came on board full time, the Archives of John Hay Library have gone from 8 percent to 25 percent female representation. If women are systematically left out the archives of our country, how will we ever be represented in the history of our country?”

Strengthening the Pembroke Center’s postdoctoral fellowship program is an important priority for the Center as part of the University's BrownTogether campaign. We welcome gifts at all levels to support this important effort. To learn more, please contact Darcy Pinkerton, Development Officer, at [email protected] or 401-863-1162.