Improvising a Conference Program

This past Friday was our annual June Baker Higgins Gender Studies Conference (see the program here.) Our keynote speaker cancelled due to a family emergency, so this forced me to improvise, literally, by putting together a lunchtime show of suffrage songs from the early twentieth century, with my colleague Beth Lorenzo from the Music Department singing lead and me on guitar and backup vocals. We performed “Uncle Sam’s Wedding,” set to “Yankee Doodle” and “Keep Woman in her Sphere” set to “Auld Lang Syne.” We even asked folks to sing along. This was my first time performing in front of an audience since I took up guitar again a few years ago and I must say it went a lot better than I expected. A friend recorded us on her digital camera so we should be on Youtube shortly!

I concluded the show by playing a Youtube video of a live performance the song “Suffering for Suffrage” from the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon of the same name.

The illustration above is one of the characters from the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. Now, I was a big fan of Schoolhouse Rock, especially “Conjunction Junction,” but I don’t remember seeing this one. Maybe it wasn’t as widely circulated because it was, egads, “feminist”?

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3 Comments

  1. I too was a big fan of the “Schoolhouse Rock” shorts on Saturday morning TV in the 1970s, but like you I never saw this one! What a disappointment. Rats!

  2. Oh yeah, seen that one–it’s on my daughter’s compilation tape of Schoolhouse Rocks. I don’t really like the history ones–“Elbow Room” is pretty horrid, looking at it now–but the suffrage one at least introduces the word “suffrage” and the idea that women had to fight for the right to vote. Didn’t know the main character was named Penny though!?!?!? Huh. Wonder why?? I’d have thought Cady or Susan or Victoria or Alice or somesuch would make more sense…

  3. This is really interesting. Many folk or popular songs have been refashioned as politically oriented songs. Examples include “the Union Label” (an old fiddle tune called “Red Wing”) and “the MTA Song” (a ballad that has seen many incarnations, including “the Ship that Never Returned” and “the Wreck of the Old 97”).

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