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Tea Talks

Now entering its 12th year, the Tea Talks lecture series at Augustana will begin in fall semester 2021, featuring speakers on a range of topics. The series is sponsored by the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

All lectures are given from 4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m.

Lectures are free and open to the public as well as the campus community. For more information about the series, contact

Schedule 2021-22

Sept. 29: Your Truth Your Champion: Setting Yourself Free from Gendered Expectations

Dr. Monica Smith, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion

Abstract: Gender is a socially constructed and socialized concept. Traditionally, gender has been used to create distinctions between men and women and define the parameters within in which each ought to function. Although truths about gender are emerging, too many of us still hold ourselves to the confines of gendered 'oughts' rather than embracing and expressing our personhood. This talk will encourage participants to tap into their truths and become champions for their own personhood.

Zoom link

Nov. 3: Reclaiming Classics: Classical Allusions and Racial Equity in HBO’s 'Watchmen' and 'Lovecraft Country'

Dr. Kirsten Day, professor of classics

Abstract: The discipline of Classics has a race problem: The glorious achievements of Greece and Rome have long been framed as the ancestral heritage of “Western civilization,” not just as a way of bolstering pride in national identity and inspiring progress and achievement, but also as a means of furthering a white supremacist agenda. While classical scholarship has come a long way in recent years, bringing women into the discipline both as scholars and as subjects of study, and working to counter the erasure of the existence of people of color in antiquity, the effects of these racist ideologies are still felt, and continue to ripple into popular perceptions and filmic depictions.

This talk will examine how two recent HBO television series, Damon Lindelof’s 2019 "Watchmen" and Mischa Green’s 2020-present "Lovecraft Country," help to push back against these perceptions by using targeted allusions to Classical antiquity in order to reclaim the relevance of the classical past for Black audiences, while also featuring strong Black women in roles that are complex and individualized in a way that is all too rare in film, and an important counterpoint to traditional trends in both gender and race in Classics as well.


Nov. 17: No Man's Land

Dr. Jane Simonsen, professor of history

Abstract: An 1824 federal treaty set aside land in what is now southern Iowa for mixed-race individuals — those with a Sauk or Meskwaki mother and a Euro-American father. Scholars have looked at the convoluted history of this tract of land, but none have attended to the role of gender and intimate relations as they intersect with changing perceptions of race.

This presentation will recover the stories of some of the mixed-race women who laid claim to this land, and whose stories have been overwritten by laws that subsume women’s identities in their husbands’, by sentimental notions of "half-breed" sexuality or romance that cover up financial motives, by a public mythology of the "Vanishing Indian," and by histories that privilege men’s public and legal transactions over women’s private and intimate ones.


Feb. 23: Teaching Histories of Wartime Sexual Violence in a Liberal Arts Curriculum

Dr. Liza Lawrence, assistant professor of history and Asian studies

Abstract: When your students have limited prior academic or personal exposure to the histories and peoples of Asia, what is the best way to teach about “comfort women”? When many Americans are conditioned to see Asia as peculiar or even unpleasant, how does one combat stereotypes when teaching the difficult history of Asian men forcing mostly Asian women into brutal sexual servitude? 

I argue that the value of exposing American students to “comfort women” testimony is all too easily diminished if those students come away with messages about the otherness of Asian people, or conversely, the universality of suffering, and I evaluate a wider body of pedagogical resources, including scholarship, fiction, and documentary. 

Carefully framed, such sources clearly communicate yes, this happened, while inviting students to move beyond shock, repulsion, or judgment and toward the habits of inquiry at the center of the liberal arts curriculum, including those related to evaluating claims and pursuing the truth.

This talk will be held at the Wilson Center on campus.

March 30: White Men in Cold Places: the Portrayal of Mining, Masculinity, and Race in American Reality TV

Dr. Brian Leech, associate professor of history

Abstract: Starting in the 19th century, Americans began to associate gold rushes with adventurous white men who, despite facing extreme conditions and supposedly hostile indigenous people, managed to strike it rich. Best-selling books like the Jack London's  "The Call of the Wild" brought these ideas into the 20th century, even if London used a dog as his stand in for white masculinity.

Instead of disappearing, though, these old colonial themes have been replicated by reality TV shows like "Alaska Gold Diggers," "Ice Cold Gold," and "Gold Rush: Parker's Trail." Despite their focus on modern-day mining, these shows often point to or even replay famous mine rushes to highlight the connections between the past and present. The end result? A continued suggestion that only hard-working white men can conquer the cold tundra.

This talk will be held in Old Main 310.