The Women Of Space At JMU

Oct 1, 2021

Half of the "Imaging Women In Space" exhibit is located at JMU's Institute for Creative Inquiry; the other half in the Engineering and Geosciences building. It is open to the public until December 10th.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

A new exhibit on display at James Madison University showcases both the accomplishments of actual female astronauts as well as fictional depictions of space women going back decades.

Julie Wosk is a professor emerita of English, art history, and studio painting at the State University of New York, Maritime College. Her most recently curated exhibit, "Imaging Women in the Space Age," is now being shown at JMU.

Julie Wosk is a professor emerita of English, art history, and studio painting at the State University of New York, Maritime College.
Credit Julie Wosk

She gave a virtual talk at the exhibit opening on Thursday. Here's Wosk discussing the post-Sputnik era of the late 50s and 60s.

JULIE WOSK: Of course, women could not yet participate in the program, so the way you would see them, often, was in ads and in fashion wearing space gear … these were fantasy figures. The only way we were going to see women in space during this period, pretty much, is in the world of fantasy.

Kevin Borg, who teaches the history of technology at JMU, has long followed Wosk's work.

KEVIN BORG: She's been one of the scholars who … have been moving the history of science and technology out of this sort of male-dominated field that it was in the 1950s and 60s into what we see today, and that is a much more diverse, much more open sense of what technology is and who's the subjects and actors and users and makers.

Kevin Borg teaches the history of technology at JMU.
Credit Randi B. Hagi

As the exhibit is interdisciplinary, including both historical figures, like Sally Ride, and cultural icons, like Lt. Uhura, half of the exhibit is located at JMU's Institute for Creative Inquiry; the other half in the Engineering and Geosciences building. It is open to the public until December 10th.

WMRA's operating license is held by JMU's Board of Visitors