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Buckley: Thank you for taking the time for this interview. My name is Anna
and I'm a student in Professor Cayleff's graduate seminar Narrating Women's
Lives. I'm also a Master's student in Women's Studies, in my first year.
We're devoting our research efforts to conducting interviews with key
people involved in the rich and important history of Women's Studies at
SDSU. It is, as you know quite well, the first such in the nation and the
world. Your interview will be transcribed verbatim and the transcripts and
audio tape will be housed in Special Collections Love Library at SDSU, and
the Women's Studies archives. So to start, what name were you using when
you were first involved with the department?
Scott: Bonnie Kimes Scott.
Buckley: And what are your intersectional
identities? Race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity,
religion, place of origin, et cetera.
Scott: Let's see. I don't strongly
identify with the fact that I'm of a sort of Anglo-Saxon background.
Heterosexual. I have, for instance, a daughter who's a lesbian in a lesbian
marriage. I am a believer in spirituality but not any established religion.
I'm firmly grounded in international friendship and cross cultural
Buckley: Did you have an official title while at SDSU?
was professor of Women's Studies and then I was professor and Chair of
Buckley: During what years were you actively involved
with the department?
Scott: 2001 to 2011.
Buckley: Were you involved with any activist organizations before you came
to the department?
Scott: Mainly academic activism. I started a Women's
Caucus within the James Joyce society. I staged walk outs, got ourselves on
the board and on the executive. I participated in anti-Ku Klux Klan rallies
in Newark, Delaware because they were situated in Newark. I don't suppose
formally in other ways before I came to San Diego state.
Buckley: And then
with the same question, after you left the department, did you participate
with any movements or activist organizations?
Scott: I went and
demonstrated about faculty salaries at one point, when we went up to an
official meeting and marched. I've certainly been involved in the Me Too
movement and the Women's Marches in recent years.
Buckley: Tell me the story of your involvement in the founding or
continuance of the department of Women's Studies.
Scott: I started my
Women's Studies career at the University of Delaware where nothing like
that existed and I was one of the founding people in what is still a
program, not a department. I think it may recently have gotten slightly
upped status and it may just be a department now. I was affiliated teaching
literature mainly, but had the thrilling set of meetings where a bunch of
women on the faculty got together, and some men, and realized that we had
lots of talent to form a Women's Studies
—we hoped—department and
battled all the stages. I led that department—or that program—for some
of the time that I was there. I came to San Diego State as a joint hire. My
husband was hired as Dean of Sciences and Women's Studies was the best fit
for me on campus. And I quite liked the fact that it was genuinely
interdisciplinary and every single course that I was going to teach, it was
a really very interesting rethinking of what I was able to
Buckley: How do you remember the campus and cultural climate during
your years of involvement?
Scott: I remember there were still some real
battles to be fought. I was active in the Senate and I really went to bat
for Women's Studies when the Senate was— particularly people in the
sciences—trying to deny us general education course accreditation in the
area of sciences. They want to insist we could only do social
science—this idea that it was okay for Women's Studies to identify with
the humanities and the social sciences, but not the sciences. Even though
there were certainly supportive voices in the sciences, including my late
husband's, that showed that Women's Studies had a ways to go. Take Back The
Night was really big at the time I was here. One of the neat things I could
do toward the end of my six years of being Chair was at that point we were
celebrating the 40th anniversary of Women's Studies. We brought in some
extra support. But that may be a different set of questions. But it was
lovely to make people aware, 'Oh, this was the first program?' Some people
didn't know that. And then to involve alumns and make people who had been
in the early founding of the program feel better, you know, about their
Buckley: Who were the key people you collaborated with and
remember most vividly?
Scott: During my time? I would say everybody in the faculty. I thought Huma
Ahmed-Ghosh for the international component of what she was doing in
Women's Studies. Anne Donadey was someone also trained in literary studies,
so she was somebody that I could definitely interact with. Bonnie
Zimmerman, although she went into admin outside of the department very soon
after I arrived, has remained a key program. My first real connection to
LGBT programming on campus, which became greatly enhanced at the end of my
time here and since then, [was thanks to] Pat Huckle. Pat Huckle was a
great force when I first arrived.
Buckley: What key accomplishments
emerged from your efforts and efforts of those you were working with while
you were here?
Scott: I would say community-wide recognition that Women's
Studies was the first Women's Studies department. I think we made a real
emphasis on that. I would say the collaborations with other departments on
campus and there would be examples of that that flourished with the 40th
anniversary, that were coming along all along, and that would be
collaboration with people in the athletics and the arts, Chicana/Chicano
Studies, Native American Studies. Our building is very nicely situated to
be—and we moved to that building—to bring together some really related
departments with similar agendas. And the advance into the
Buckley: What obstacles did you face?
Scott: I think it's
always very interesting to negotiate with the Dean. I think general
education is a hugely important territory and some people fight for it. It
was important to get myself on key committees that decided who would get
hired and it was a bit of a struggle, but we did manage to hire
significantly in the time that I was at San Diego State. There was a little
bit of a lull after that. Working with Deans can be very challenging. I
think there have been challenges all the way along the line and just the
resilience of my colleagues. I think Doreen has been wonderful and I think
Huma was very good at it too. I think our negotiating skills are things
that we never trained to do, which one comes across in life, have been key
in making Women's Studies do as well as it has.
Buckley: Were there particular conflicts that you recall, and what was the
nature of them?
Scott: I think curricular conflict. Oh, there was a budget
crisis and the business of sustaining graduate study all the way along the
line. I mean, that was a real challenge, coming up with monies to do that.
Having a Women's Studies student who was available to work with the Young
Women's Studies Club took money. Convincing somebody when they changed the
rules on graduate student funding that we could still do it. Putting
together packages so that students could still come and be Master's
students. I was Director of Graduate Studies very soon after I came before
I became chair, and, just the finagling and scheming and recruiting and
figuring out who is really gonna work out well as a graduate student here,
and flourish and then afterwards, mentoring for years and years afterwards,
because what follows is important too.
Buckley: What key moment do you recall that best encapsulates your efforts
on behalf of Women's Studies at SDSU?
Scott: I think when the whole community came together over that 40th
anniversary. Moxie theater was here, the Art Department did a wonderful
exhibit, and I think something very similar is happening this time. We
spread it over a whole year, but, it's going to be a spectacular day in
April. I know.
Buckley: Do you want to tell me more about the
Scott: I just remember the fascination of digging into the early
history and involving people in our opening talk, and it wasn't just people
in Women's Studies, but across campus there was still people who had been
supportive in those little battles in the Senate and so on. It was very,
very good. We had a whole speaker series. There were faculty who arrived
since I had arrived with new forms of interests and I think we had a much
better representation of Chicana/Chicano students. [Irene] Lara, she was
very good, I remember her opening with a very good talk at the banquet that
we had. She's been a wonderful colleague too, a very important
Buckley: Have you remained in communication with students,
faculty, staff, and administrators since your time at SDSU?
Scott: One of
the neatest things that we had started before I left, but we continued, was
something that I noticed when I was Graduate Director. There was always an
effort to define the difference between 101 and 102, the two Women's
Studies, intro courses for undergraduates. 102, the one in the humanities,
was lacking in good textbook-type materials. So we had a collaboration of
four of us. Irene [Lara] was one of the collaborators, I was, Cayleff was,
and Anne Donadey. And we produced this textbook. That was really active for
several years after I retired and it still has online presence. The
publisher went through several identities on the way, but it started out as
Blackwell and it did get published. That was a wonderful way to stay
involved. I've come to things ever since. I've been supportive —
philanthropy is something that I can do for the department now. I'm lazy
about how often I publish things, but I am still publishing things. I've
had this book project that's been underway. I lost my husband two years
ago, so that was a real change, but, I come and use the library and
definitely benefit from San Diego State. And it's colleagues that weren't
just in Women's Studies. But I was here. I mean, compared to some of the
people that you're going to interview who had their whole career at San
Diego State, this is a 10 year epic. But then eight years since that, I've
been very rich because of San Diego State. I'm still around.
do you believe is the legacy of your work?
Scott: There's still a good
Graduate Program. And the reach of Women's Studies, the affiliated faculty,
the collaborations, the internationalization of curriculum—I don't take
credit for, but while I was there I think it made real advancements and
this whole idea of intersectionality has flourished.
Buckley: Do you think
we should maintain our identity as Women's Studies and not change it to the
more commonly used Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies?
Scott: There is a
long tradition of being Women's Studies and I think I'd like to see it
continue, making it clear that we do cool things related to gender. My
first book was on James Joyce, cultures and feminism. So obviously I'm
deeply into gender. I have a big anthology called Gender and Modernism. So
gender is a very important concept to me, but I kind of like being a
Women's Studies department.
Buckley: It's been a big topic in our
foundations class, we've been talking about it a lot.
Scott: It's important to keep "women" in there.
Buckley: Is there something in retrospect that you wish you had been aware
Scott: That negotiating the differences amongst us as feminists
are delicate, important, and ceaseless, and very important to have good
Buckley: I agree. What do you think is the legacy of
your work personally, as well? Not necessarily tied to the
Scott: Modernism is different because I've been a scholar in
it. And I brought feminist work to it.
Buckley: Want to tell me
Scott: Well, you probably have the list of books that I've done. I
think the collaborative work I did like the Gender of Modernism and there
are several collaborations where I brought in people and we worked together
on solving and moving ahead of field and starting out with a little
rebellion in Joyce studies very early on. I think literary studies will
never be the same and I was one of the people who helped that happen. And
I've gotten more into eco feminist stuff. It's kind of neat. You can
Buckley: What would you say now to current Women's
Studies students, faculty and administrators?
Scott: Keep it going, but
also take care of yourself at the same time.
Buckley: Is there anything
that we haven't covered or talked about that you want to add?
think it's important to keep discussions open and involve the big community
of people in Women's Studies as much as we can. And sometimes you realize,
oh, there were old rivalries, or old frictions that existed between
departments or institutions and so on. But it's a fluid situation, so
keeping at it is very important.
Buckley: Yeah, I think that's great
advice. Anything else?
Scott: I don't think so.