Distinguished Speaker Draws Crowds

This past Thursday, Hollins' Distinguished Speaker series brought Samhita Mukhopadhyay to campus to give a lecture in honor of International Women's Day. The title of the lecture was "Beyoncé vs. Miley: Race, Gender, and the Media." As might be expected, the lecture drew a sizeable crowd. While Mukhopadhyay attributed her popularity to the presence of Beyoncé in her lecture title, many students also expressed interest in hearing a lecture from one of the founders of Feministing.com, the most read feminist news site on the web.

Mukhopadhyay instantly endeared herself to the Hollins community by taking several selfies before and after the lecture, many with the audience in the background. Her lecture was informative and relevant, and struck a line between professional and relatable--Mukhopadhyay swore a few times throughout her lecture and made many timely cultural references. The lecture also adeptly flowed between emotions. Mukhopadhyay drew laughs at several points, but also introduced topics that brought the energy in the room appropriately down. She also included trigger warnings for those more serious moments, which many students appreciated.

Perhaps even more informative than the lecture itself was Mukhopadhyay's fielding of questions after she finished speaking. The questions that came from students revealed engagement from the audience on both personal and intellectual levels. Questions delved into topics such as the inclusion or exclusion of trans* people in feminist spaces and the good girl/bad girl dichotomy of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. Hopefully, future Distinguished Speakers will draw the same size crowd and involvement as this week's speaker did.