St Hilda's Feminist Salon

The St Hilda's Feminist Salon happens twice each term at St Hilda's. A guest host is invited from feminist academia, art, or activism, who decides on the format of the salon. The first salon took place in October 2016, when our hosts were prize-winning poet, writer and literary scholar Fatemeh Shams and Zuzanna Olszewska, Associate Professor in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St John’s College.

The St Hilda's Feminist Salon is a space to bridge the gap between feminist theory and practice, and to discuss the complexities of feminism today. Historically, salons have been a force for women’s education and disseminating and debating progressive political ideas. Contemporary feminism is vibrant, challenging and riddled with conflicts. Each salon is different and if you are unable to attend you can participate by sending in questions via twitter or facebook. Talks are recorded and can be listened to after the event.

Nuhu Abdo from Syrian Sisters hosted the final Salon of 2018 on 30 November. Nuha is a sociologist from Syria who worked with Danish Refugee Council in Damascus for three years before coming to the UK in 2016. Since arriving in Oxford, she has set up Syrian Sisters and is active in assisting recently arrived Syrian families to settle in the city.

On 2 November 2018, the salon was hosted by Winsome Pinnock, award-winning playwright, academic and dramaturg. Winsome was the first black British female playwright to have a play produced by the National Theatre. Most recently a revival of her 1987 play, Leave Taking, played at the Bush Theatre to critical and commercial success. Winsome's discussant was be JC Niala, an award winning stage and screen writer. JC's play, Unsettled, is due for release by Methuen in January 2019. It forms part of a collection of contemporary African women playwrights.

As part of their Black History Month celebrations, the Queer Studies Network and St Hilda's Feminist Salon were delighted to host an evening to celebrate the life and work of Audre Lorde on 24 October 2018.

Trinity Term's Feminist Salon took the form of a 'Spoken Word Night' on 8 June, with three poets:

  • Emily Harrison - voted Best Spoken Word Performer 2016 at The Saboteur Awards, Emily performs regularly in London and across the UK, combining precise writing and bold performance. 
  • Paula Varjack - poet, filmmaker and performance maker and creator of numerous shows including The Anti-Social Network, Show me the Money, and the Cult of K*nzo, she enjoys working across and combining disciplines: performance, theatre, documentary, and spoken word. 
  • Tina Sederholm - performance poet and raconteur, intermittent idealist, reluctant feminist, and recovering workaholic. 

On 9 March 2018, our Feminist Salon was organised in association with the St Hilda's MCR (Middle Common Room). Visiting student, Emma Bartel, managed the event. St Hilda's was honoured to welcome as guest host Eileen Myles, profilic poet, novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. Myles opened the salon with an extended reading from their new book, Afterglow; a memoir from the perspective of their dog Rosie. The discussant, Tigan Palmer, a recent  Oxford Masters student in English and American Studies, asked Myles a series of well-informed questions about their work. The salon was then opened to the audience, who asked a range of fascinating and complex questions. Myles was a brilliant host and answered every question in an unexpected and riveting way. The conversation continued over dinner with students who helped to organise the salon and some students of Myles' work. 

On Saturday 20 January 2018 the theme of the salon was “Women in Oxford” in partnership with Herstory. Speakers included Prof Patricia Daley, Rene Sharanya Verma, Dr Liz Woolley, and “Women in Oxford’s History” podcasters.

More past speakers have included:

20 November 2017 Ash Sarkar, Ray Filar, and Wail Qasim spoke on the the theme of 'Rising Stars: Alternative Feminist Media'.

20 October 2017 Heather Widdows, John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham and author of Perfect Me! Beauty as an Ethical Ideal  (forthcoming with Princeton University Press), which was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.

15 June 2017  Jessica Lynn, an advocate and professional speaker for transgender rights and the co-founder and President of Your True Gender. This Salon was hosted in association with OUSU LGBTQ Campaign,

26 May 2017 Fatou Wurie, Co-founder of The Survivor Dream Project and President of Oxford Women in Politics

19 April 2017 Lisa Monchalin, Department of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

3 March 2017 – Mara Clarke and Speaking of IMELDA

27 January 2017  Sisters of Frida

25 November 2016 – Pragna Patel

21 October 2016 – Fatemeh Shams in conversation with Zuzanna Olszewska







Nuhu Abdo from Syrian Sisters with Dr Maeve McKeown at St Hilda's Feminist SalonEileen Myles hosts St Hilda's Feminist Salon, 9 March 2018Eileen Myles hosts St Hilda's Feminist Salon, 9 March 2018Eileen Myles hosts St Hilda's Feminist Salon, 9 March 2018St Hilda's Feminist Salon: Fatemeh Shams in conversation with Zuzanna OlszewskaSt Hilda's Feminist Salon