Lexington Community Education
Since the age of fifteen poetry has been my ruling passion and I have never intentionally undertaken any task or formed any relationship that seemed inconsistent with poetic principles.
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All Courses >> SPECIAL EVENTS >> Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives

Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives (SWIT)
Start Date:Tuesday, February 13 (1 meetings)Location: Lexington Depot
Instructor: Leigh Gilmore Meeting Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Tuition: $10($10 for seniors)Status: Running/Still Openings

The scale and impact of the #MeToo movement caught many by surprise. Leigh Gilmore offers context and perspective on this phenomenon based on her recent book, Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives. She will explore the pervasive and persistent culture of doubt women encounter in offering accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Prof. Gilmore explains why women are so often considered unreliable witnesses by returning to Anita Hill's testimony about sexual harassment during Clarence Thomas's Senate confirmation hearing. Although widely believed by women, Hill was defamed by conservatives and Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. The tainting of Hill and her testimony is part of a larger social history in which women find themselves caught up in a system that refuses to believe what they say. Prof. Gilmore’s analysis of this history reveals the routine discrediting of women witnesses in legal courts, in the reaction to the memoirs they publish, and in courts of public opinion.

Women's testimonial accounts demonstrate both the symbolic potency of women's bodies and speech in the public sphere and the relative lack of institutional security and control to which they can lay claim. Tainted Witness examines how gender, race, and doubt stick to women witnesses as their testimony circulates in search of an adequate witness. Beyond an examination of the past, Leigh Gilmore considers how new feminist witnesses enter testimonial networks and disrupt doubt. Bringing together feminist, literary, and legal frameworks, Leigh Gilmore demonstrates how testimony crosses jurisdictions, publics, and the unsteady line between truth and fiction in search of justice.

Leigh Gilmore is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley. She is the author of The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony, Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women's Self-Representation, and coeditor of Autobiography and Postmodernism. She has published articles on autobiography, law and literature, and feminist theory in Feminist Studies, Signs, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Biography, among others, and in numerous collections.