Hollywood leading ladies inspire new class

Ilenia Pezzaaniti

The Women’s Studies Program will offer classes this year on iconic Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn and other leading ladies who helped buck tradition on the silver screen.

The Women’s Studies Program will offer classes this year on iconic Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn and other leading ladies who helped buck tradition on the silver screen.

The courses will celebrate both Hepburn’s legacy and the cultural contributions of some of Hollywood’s most celebrated actresses.

“Katharine Hepburn: A Rarity,” which will be offered in spring 2011, will detail the life of the acclaimed four-time Oscar winning actress. Women’s Studies Director Suzanne Holt said Hepburn represents the ideal example her program would like to promote.

“By exploring the icons of Hollywood, we effectively zoom straight into the heart of a world of cast and scripted parts in plotted schemes to study how and why certain females attained staying power there,” Holt said.

The program will offer the course “Hollywood Iconic Women” for the fall 2010 semester, which will be a survey course on powerful women in entertainment.

Holt said women like Hepburn established their status by defying odds and committing to their individuality. The course will analyze why and how Hepburn and other iconic women were successful in this method.

The courses were inspired by the Women’s Studies Program’s Hepburn wardrobe display, “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” at the Kent State Museum. Holt said the courses are a way to embrace the significance of women who have challenged conventional stigmas and exceeded cultural expectations by separating the role of woman and star.

“Our primary interests are: the complexity and dimensionality of these real women — their talent and intelligence and sensual appeal — and the evolution of an iconography of stardom within which women factor on their own terms as well as on the terms of culture and its opinion leaders,” said Holt.

Holt said Hepburn’s lengthy career will provide a good study in feminism for students.

“She’s quite clearly a renowned actress, a fashion icon, a legendarily outspoken, fiercely independent and unconventional woman,” Holt said. “It’s hard to argue with a career six decades long or 12 Academy Award nominations, four wins. It’s harder yet to argue with the place history has reserved for her.”

Contact news correspondent Ilenia Pezzaniti at [email protected]