New Grant Funding Creates Student Research Opportunity on Sexual Consent

By Benjamin Beggs ‘20 Communication Studies
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New grant funding is creating an opportunity for two students to do important research on the topic of sexual consent – work that will contribute to national conversations around the #MeToo movement.

Widener’s Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies program and the Wolfgram Memorial Library's Sexuality Archives secured $10,000 from the Council of Independent Colleges. The grant, called “Humanities for the Public Good,” will fund undergraduate research that analyzes the history of consent’s portrayal in the Sexuality Archive materials as well as in popular media.

Following this hands-on study, the students will present their research at the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association Annual Conference, and several regional venues selected by Women Against Rape, a partner of the program.

Associate Professor Annalisa Castaldo, who teaches in the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies program and who will work with the student researchers, emphasized the importance of distinguishing proper consent from harmful stereotypes the media often portrays.

The study of gender and sexuality influences everything. By having students identify conflicting examples of consent in music, television, film, and other media, we hope to show everyone how to be safe for themselves and for others. Annalisa Castaldo

Student researchers will analyze materials from Wolfgram Memorial Library’s Sexuality Archives, which houses content from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Preserving the history of sexuality and sexuality education is the primary goal of the Sexuality Archives.

Molly Wolf, the founder and curator of the archives, sees the research as both a unique and important learning opportunity on a very timely topic.

“As the #MeToo movement has shown us, consent is something that our society has done a poor job of teaching and learning,” Wolf explained. “Our belief is that a historical context is crucial to help everyone understand consent. We are so proud that our students will be doing this work and contributing valuable research findings to the national conversation.”

The Center for Civic and Global Engagement will provide support for this grant program.

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