Women’s History Month at Fresno State begins Friday, Mar. 1, with a Marilyn Monroe themed lecture, book signing and film screening.

Several events are planned throughout the month by the Department of Women’s Studies and the Women’s Resource Center along with other campus groups. The events are free and open to the public.

Friday’s kickoff will be 4-8 p.m. in the Peters Educational Center Auditorium in the Student Recreation Center (Woodrow and Shaw Ave.).

Dr. Lois Banner, a professor of History and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California who has been at the forefront of women’s issues for the last half decade, will present a lecture, “Marilyn Monroe: Uncovering the Mysteries of her Life and Death,” followed by a signing of her book, “Marilyn: The Paradox and the Passion”  (Bloomsbury – August 1, 2012).

Banner believes that Marilyn was one of the great female figures of the twentieth century and that her life should stand as a beacon to women of the modern age She says Marilyn Monroe was much more than a sexy “dumb blonde.”

The film, “The Misfits,” will be screened following the lecture as part of the Cineculture film series. Considered among critics as one of the finest American movies ever made, the film depicts the story of an aging burlesque performer played by Marilyn Monroe.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Women’s Studies Program.

Banner was a founder of the field of women’s history, cofounder of the Berkshire Conference in Women’s History and the author of ten books including her acclaimed “American Beauty” and most recently “MM–Personal,” which reproduces and discusses items from Marilyn’s personal archives.

One of the few female biographers of Marilyn Monroe, Banner wrote her book to illuminate a new Marilyn, one who struggled with many female ailments and attempted throughout her life to combine a career with marriage.

She spent nine years researching the intimate details of Monroe’s life, interviewing more than one hundred people in her inner circle and fan club, and examining confidential papers and ledgers in the final years of her life that previous biographers have failed to analyze.

Other events include:

  • Mar. 4 – Dr. Blain Roberts, Fresno State History professor, will discuss “Equal Pay at Fifty: The Recent History of Women and the Wage Gap,” at 4 p.m. in University Student Union, Room 312-314.
  • Mar. 5 – Women’s Studies Brown Bag Series: “Written Out of History: Matilda Joslyn Gage,” by Angelica Carpenter, 12:30-1:45 p.m. in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.
  • Mar. 6 –Jenny Whyte, coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, will facilitate a lecture, “Where’s My Orgasm? A Frank Discussion on Women’s Sexuality,” noon-1 p.m., in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.
  • Mar. 11 – Women’s Studies Brown Bag Series: Tania Pacheco, a research analyst with the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, will speak on “Gender Roles in Health Care Decisions of  Older Mexican Migrant Men,” noon-12:45 p.m. in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.
  • Mar. 14 – Fourth Annual Latina Leadership Conference, hosted by the student club Entre Mujeres and the Center for Women and Culture, will be 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Henry Madden Library, Room 2206. Keynote speaker Yrma Rico, owner of Fresno’s Weber BMW and former general manager of Denver’s Univision television station, will discuss “Why Not Mme?” at 3 p.m.
  • Mar. 18 – Tunnel of Oppression at 4-7 p.m. in the University Courtyard.
  • Mar. 19 – ΣΩΦ Women’s Symposium at 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the USU Pit area. Also, Women’s Studies Brown Bag Series: Dr. Kathryn Forbes, Women’s Studies faculty member, will present a lecture, “Gender, Sports, Justice: the Cultural Politics of Title IX in a California Town,” at 12:30-1:45 p.m., in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.
  • Mar. 20 – Zeta Phi Beta Historic Fashion Show, location and time to be determined.
  • Mar. 21 – Women’s Studies Brown Bag Series: Jennifer Zenovich, Fresno State athlete, will speak on “The Question of Gender Quotas in Montenegrin Parliament,” 12:30-1:45 p.m., in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212.

For more information on Women’s History month events, contact Women’s Studies at 559.278.2858 or the Women’s Resource Center at 278-4435.

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University Communications News Intern Samantha Gibson contributed to this copy.