WSU Library System News

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11/12 | Wayne State Libraries to host panel discussion and film screening of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-Paper

October 10th, 2013

From 4 to 6 p.m. on November 12 in the Bernath Auditorium inside of the Undergraduate Library, the Wayne State University Libraries and professors from Wayne State’s history, communication and English departments will present a screening and discussion of the 1989 BBC production of “The Yellow Wall Paper,” a film based on the 1892 short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

In the late nineteenth century, at a time when women were challenging traditional ideas about gender that excluded them from political and intellectual life, medical and scientific experts drew on notions of female weakness to justify inequality between the sexes. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected these ideas in a terrifying short story titled, “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.

Coordinated by Professor Richard Raspa, department of English, the program will begin with an introduction, followed by a discussion about the film and author’s place in science, women’s studies, film and writing. The panel will include Raspa as well as Professors Marsha Richmond, department of history, and Joel Silvers, department of communication. This event is free and open to the public.

This discussion will serve to familiarize the campus community with the story before the November 18 opening of National Library of Medicine’s “The Literature of Prescription,” a six-panel traveling exhibition that will be on display at the Shiffman Medical Library through December 28. The exhibit examines the role of gender in the perception and medical treatment of mental illness using Gilman’s work and other materials. For more information on the exhibit, visit the exhibition website at