May 6 - June 3, 2005
Vol. 35, Issue 8
Back Issues
Leitao named 'Hoos first African-American head coach
Flagship universities must pursue excellence and access
Outstanding Contribution Award winners announced
Two-time university president rekindles love of teaching and scholarship
100 years since U.Va.'s first presidential inauguration
2005 Teaching Awards
Championing the 'F-word'
Well, well... Students' health tops University's concerns
Loud and clear; Gausvik says he's listening
Lyder blazes a busy trail at Nursing School
Researchers, environment win big in pollution cases
Documentary 'Rising Up' examines civil rights movement
Spring procurement vendor fair June 1
Iris: 25 and hitting its stride


Iris: 25 and hitting its stride
Journal about women is a small magazine with outsized ambitions

Iris coverBy Ellen Barber

Since its beginnings as a photocopied newsletter for the Women’s Studies Center, Iris has evolved into a glossy magazine whose national readership makes it unique among student-produced publications.

Now in its 25th year, it continues to mine new territory while holding fast to its original mission — “a commitment to reaching out to and widening the community of people who are actively working on creating a more equitable university, community, society,” said Sharon Davie, director of the Women’s Center.

Founded in 1980 by Davie and then-doctoral student Caroline Gebhard, Iris today has a circulation of about 2,000. That may be small, but it packs a punch. The journal’s content “has always been strong, honest, smart and quite different from anything you’d find in mainstream magazines,” said coordinating editor Gina Welch, who graduated from U.Va. with a master’s in fiction writing last year. Past issues have explored such topics as addiction, the banishment of Barbie dolls from Iran, feminisim in primetime television, menopause, money, scars, vampire movies and weight.

Early on, Iris published pieces that got the journal noticed by the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Harper’s and Ms. Magazine. And in 1993, it earned the “Best in Virginia” award in the black-and-white magazine category from the Richmond chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Some of the essays that appeared in its pages have since been anthologized: “Demilitarized Security: Women Oppose U.S. Militarism in East Asia,” by Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazama-Rey, appeared in the fall 1999 issue and was later included in the book, “Frontline Feminisms: Women, War and Resistance.”

Contributors to Iris include nationally known writers and artists — such as feminist theorist Jennifer Baumgardner, scholar Margaret Stetz, cartoonist Linda Sherman, photographer Mary Motley Kalergis and poet Gregory Orr, who is on U.Va.’s English department faculty — as well as other faculty, students, alumni and writers from around the country.

Now, Iris is aiming for a bigger audience and has plans to involve more alumni in its creation. And by keeping its content and design fresh, Welch said she believes “Iris can be a staple read for progressive young women.”

Students produce Iris biannually through a three-credit course, “Feminist Publishing and Scholarship,” which combines “rigorous academic work” with the “hands-on, A-to-Z putting together of this journal,” Davie said.

To read excerpts or to subscribe, check out Iris online at

Reprinted from the summer 2005 Alumni News, available May 16.


© Copyright 2005 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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