New Issue Of North Dakota Quarterly Asks: What Is ‘diversity’ And Why Should We Care?

The latest issue of North Dakota Quarterly—titled “Diversity and Its Discontents”—tackles the issue head on in a series of articles presenting differing perspectives that tantalize, inform and enlighten readers.

Guest co-edited by University of North Dakota English and Women Studies Professor Kathleen Dixon and Belgian feminist scholar Magda Michielsens, Professor Emerita of Women Studies from the University of Antwerp, “Diversity and Its Discontents” shakes up the orthodox thinking about diversity.

A good example is Dixon’s article titled “Battle of the Sexes: A Rhetorical Analysis of a Faculty Right Hearing.” Dixon tells the story of a gay male music professor accused by several women of what amounts to sexual harassment. He was fired. The matter went to a faculty rights hearing, what Dixon dubs “a melodramatic morality play.”

The title of this special issue of North Dakota Quarterly—Diversity and Its Discontents—derives from the 2010 Red River Women’s Studies Conference at which the co-editors of the issue  spoke.

“A great deal could be learned, we felt, by crossing international boundaries as well as those of political commitment,” Dixon said.

Thus, Dixon’s work is a critique from the U.S. left, Michielsens’ is from the Belgian center-right, and the late Margaret Ogrodnick, an associate professor of political science, represents the Canadian center.

It’s a timely review of a timely subject: diversity is an important byword in higher education, and college campuses across the country are striving to achieve common sense and civil discourse about it.

“Neither our educational institutions nor those of our larger society—now with a significantly global dimension—have adequately dealt with social injustice and the disagreements among citizens about it:  whether it exists, in what ways it could exist, or what to do about it if indeed it does exist,” said Dixon.

“In the U.S., the debate is polarized, with right-wing pundits attacking their opponents in the crudest possible terms, and left-wing intellectuals either cruising along at altitudes far removed from most people’s ordinary lives or re-affirming politically-correct positions that often chill debate,” Dixon said. “No one wants to be called ‘sexist,’ or ‘racist.’”

“Predictably, no one at the conference wanted to openly debate Michielsens; some found her lecture shocking,” Dixon said. “However, in the special issue, her views are countered by Marnia Lazreg, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York.  She is a specialist in the long history of interaction between Christian Europe and Muslim Middle East and Northern Africa.  Even so, neither side offers what the other side wants to hear.”

Readers will debate these, and many other, pieces published in the “Diversity and Its Discontents” special issue of the NDQ.  Co-editors Dixon and Michielsens are anxious to hear from them.  Dixon will be in Europe promoting the special issue in late April and early May.

Copies of the current issue of North Dakota Quarterly are available at the University Bookstore, the North Dakota Museum of Art, or can be ordered directly in person from NDQ, Merrifield 15, or by mail at Merrifield Hall Room 110,  276 Centennial Drive Stop 7209, Grand Forks ND 58202-7209. Our telephone is 701-777-3322; e-mail is  The cost is $8 each.

About North Dakota Quarterly:

North Dakota Quarterly is a literary journal of the College of Arts and Sciences whose roots extend back to the early days of the University of North Dakota. One of the famous “little magazines” that have been the traditional seed beds of talented writers, it puts UND on the map while contributing to the nation’s cultural and artistic life.

An international spectrum of writers and artists joins UND faculty and researchers as contributors to NDQ’s rich mixture of articles, essays, fiction, and poetry and has emerged through the decades as one of the University’s most widely admired ambassadors.

The journal is edited by a UND staff member with contributions both local and national.

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Juan Miguel Pedraza, writer/editor
UND Office of University Relations
701-777-6571 office 701-740-1321 cell