Women’s History Month 2023: Read, watch, listen

From graphic novels to poetry to podcasts and documentaries, staff members recommend their top picks

Barbra Ramos | March 23, 2023

From writing to speaking to filmmaking, women have long found various ways to tell stories that educate, entertain or help people connect with each other.

To inspire and illuminate the Bruin community during Women’s History Month, we asked librarians from UCLA’s ethnic studies centers for their top picks to read, watch or listen that puts women’s stories from diverse communities into the spotlight.

Here are the recommendations, which range from graphic novels and podcasts to narrative films and documentaries — from the librarians at the American Indian Studies Center, Asian American Studies Center, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and Chicano Studies Research Center, as well as the director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Check out the libraries and the Archive for curated collections and programming. The Archive also hosts many film screenings throughout the year.

Joy Holland, American Indian Studies Center Library

  • Listen: Imagine sipping coffee at a cozy kitchen table with a group of cool women, artists and writers dishing in self-affirming and candid ways about topics affecting Native and Indigenous women and communities. “All My Relations” is a podcast co-hosted by Matika Wilbur, a visual storyteller from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington; Adrienne Keene, citizen of the Cherokee Nation, writer, and professor; and Desi Small-Rodriguez, a bicultural citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and Chicana and a sociology professor at UCLA.
  • Read: Tongva artist Weshoyot Alvitre is a gifted graphic illustrator and activist. Our library houses a collection of Native and Indigenous graphic novels, comics, zines and art, including works by Alvitre such as “Deer Woman: An Anthology,” a graphic novel she co-edited that is based on the true stories of Indigenous women, and a signed first edition of the Marvel comic “Indigenous Voices Issue #1.”

Marjorie Lee, Asian American Studies Center Library/Reading Room

  • Read: Judy Yung was a remarkable American history scholar and professor who uncovered and sounded the bold voices of our silent and silenced mothers and grandmothers. Her work restored their dignity and self-respect as heroines of immigrant survival and resilience. She shared her knowledge about Chinese American history and communities, pioneering the development of Asian language materials and Asian American collections in public libraries and establishing the Chinese Women of America Research Project, which resulted in the first traveling exhibit on the topic and the book “Chinese Women of America: A Pictorial History.” Another one of my favorite books of hers is “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America.”
  • View: In San Francisco, you can visit a mural that depicts her alongside other Asian American community heroes like Yuri Kochiyama and Caroline Cabading.

I knew Judy for nearly four decades and spoke with her only a month prior to her sudden passing in December 2020. I asked her if she would consider being one of our center’s distinguished lecturers for 2021. She humbly said she would be honored if offered. I was both crushed by and grateful for our last chat.

Stacy Wiliams, Ralph J. Bunche Library and Media Center

  • Watch: Directed by Tracy Heather Strain, “Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space” is a new documentary about the writer, folklorist and anthropologist. It focuses on Hurston’s research on Black communities in the South and the Caribbean, and how she attempted to navigate the people and academic systems who tried to thwart her work. The documentary includes footage that Hurston took herself, which captured Black life, beauty and joy.
  • Read: With “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era,” Alison Rose Jefferson provides an analysis of the history of racism and exclusionary practices that affect how a marginalized community can enjoy a space or navigate safely through it. Her book is an important part of representation in leisure studies. When connecting us to the experiences of the people she wrote about, Jefferson emphasized the importance of “collective memory.”

Xaviera Flores, Chicano Studies Research Center Library

  • Listen: “Central American Voices” is a bilingual podcast hosted by Alejandra Quiroz, a Honduran documentarian and photographer based in Los Angeles. I really care about my students and community and want everyone to feel seen and heard, so I’m learning more about my Central American sisters and how I can create space for them personally and professionally.
  • Read: On my professional Instagram account @jefalibrarian I’m doing my “31 days, 31 books, 31 women” with books like “The Hurting Kind” by current poet laureate Ada Limón.

May Hong HaDuong, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

  • Watch: Chase Joynt’s award-winning hybrid film “Framing Agnes” surfaces the painful and unethical histories that took place at UCLA decades ago for individuals seeking gender-affirming surgery. When we screened it last year at the Billy Wilder Theater, I was drawn to how it brought to life the complexities of identity and ethical issues in archives and research that are still relevant today. The film can be streamed via multiple platforms, and the archive’s post-screening panel is online.
  • Watch: Made by UCLA students Kathy Levitt, Michie Gleason and Christine Lesiak about women in prison, “We’re Alive” shares the voices of a marginalized community rarely humanized in mainstream media. Few films bring to light the stark parallels between prison conditions in the 1970s and today. With the Center for the Study of Women, the archive premiered its restoration of the 1974 film earlier this year, followed by a panel with the filmmakers and members of the California Coalition of Women Prisoners.
cancel-search new-window search-icon ucla