University of Montana Western English Professor Bethany Blankenship’s “Literature and Women” class recently organized an event raising over $2,000 for the local Women’s Resource Center (WRC).
The Women’s Resource Center is a proactive organization for individuals who seek to free themselves from domestic violence and for those affected by sexual assault. They are dedicated to enhancing the quality of peoples lives through community involvement, education, and non-confrontational conflict resolution in the Beaverhead and Madison County areas.
Blankenship began her class by studying the female writers of ancient Greece, to medieval and renaissance female leaders and up to current graphic novelists promoting social empowerment for women’s rights.
“For the classroom portion of the course, students learned about women’s impact in literature, the social challenges women writers had to overcome throughout history and female writers who empowered other women by giving them a voice,” Blankenship explained. “I wanted my students to have a clear picture of the struggles women have had throughout history and how it still persists to this day.”
The class includes a service learning component as a requirement, which inspired Blankenship to put the students in charge of organizing the fundraiser to benefit the WRC.
“Because of Experience One, this class has much more potential than merely sitting around a table, sipping tea and talking about literature,” Blankenship said. “The fundraiser was a great way to get the students involved with women’s issues today and truly be experiential.”
The fundraiser included a “pint night” portion, where one dollar from every pint purchased was donated to the WRC, and a silent auction. The auction included items from over 20 local businesses. Blankenship’s students also conducted a raffle for fly fishing gear and a guided fishing trip on the Beaverhead River, donated by Kailey Outfitters.
“After learning about the struggle female writers went through to have their voices heard I have come to appreciate my freedom to write, be published, and recognized as a female writer,” student WesleyAnn Johnson said. “Organizing an event to help those in domestic violence and sexual assault situations opened my eyes to struggles within our own community. I’m happy we were able to be a part of the solution.”
— Montana Western —