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September 4, 2001

'Telling Our Stories' highlights history

By Stephanie Sonnenfeld


Back for its third year, the Women’s Center’s ‘Telling Our Stories’ event is spotlighting its first-ever staff participants.

Marion Dearing, executive assistant to President Bill Chace, and Catherine Howett Smith, associate director and director of academic services at the Carlos Museum, will share their life experiences on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Miller-Ward Alumni House, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Though the topics of conversation between the two women won’t be known until they sit down and begin chatting, Women’s Center Director Ali Crown said mothers—and daughters—and the bonds between the two will surely be a main theme.

The rest is up to Dearing and Howett Smith.

The format of the program is simple and personal: The two speakers sit in armchairs in front of the group and have an impromptu chat about their lives. “To me, the intimacy and interplay were important. I wanted the audience to get the feeling that we were sitting in [the speakers’] living room, eavesdropping on them,” Crown said.

“Telling Our Stories” began in 1999 with Rebecca Chopp, former provost, and Johnnetta Cole, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies, and African-American Studies. Last year it featured Patricia Hudgins, professor of radiology and otolaryngology, and Suzie Tindall, recently retired professor of neurological surgery.

Crown and Patti Owen-Smith, a psychology professor at Oxford, said they had seen programs similar to “Telling Our Stories” presented at various universities and professional conferences, but they had to mull over the perfect venue and presentation for such and event at Emory. Now with the success of the program, Crown said she’d love to see “Telling Our Stories” become a biannual event, with spring and fall presentations.

“Telling Our Stories” has many purposes, Crown added. It allows for women from all parts of campus to come together to connect, as well as hear a part of modern women’s history. “When we tell these stories, we really live them, and they become more of a part of us,” she said. “Those listening come to know those things we share as women, and also how we differ. We even are able to understand how life events have helped to make us who we are.”

The success of previous “Telling Our Stories” programs is testimony that people desire a personal element in their day-to-day interactions with each other, said Owen-Smith. “Too seldom in the academy and in institutions outside the academy do we honor and give credibility to the personal nature of people’s lives,” she said.

The event will be videotaped and archived at the Women’s Center and in Woodruff Library’s Special Collections. This year, there are plans to post a video of the program on the Women’s Center’s website.

Cost for “Telling Our Stories,” which includes a three-course dinner, is $23 and reservations must be made by Sept. 6. For more information, call 404-727-2001 or send e-mail to


Back to Emory Report September 4, 2001