Category Archives: Queer Studies

September 7, 2013, 12:17 pm

Department of Academic Freedom: Asking Students To Other Themselves

doublemint-270x300

Why not have your students imitate gum salesgirls in public?

In a victory for academic freedom, Columbia State Community College psychology professor has been cleared of charges that an assignment on homosexuality harassed and discriminated against students of faith (HT).

The assignment, as I understand it, asked students to wear a gay pride ribbon out in public as they walked about Columbia, Tennessee. They were then to record their thoughts and observations for course credit. Although they could choose an alternative assignment, a few students felt that having it on the syllabus at all violated their religious beliefs. Although no student filed a grievance, the Alliance Defending Freedom, run by former conservative anti-pornography activist Alan Sears, filed a complaint against the professor anyway.

Which…

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December 5, 2012, 11:26 am

Gaga Feminism: An Interview With J. Jack Halberstam (Part I)

J. Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and one of queer studies’ most prominent and accessible public intellectuals. Jack has challenged the fields of literature, cultural studies, film and television with path-breaking volumes like Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (2005), Female Masculinity (1998), The Drag King Book: A First Look (1999, in partnership with photographer Del LaGrace Volcano), and In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005). More recently, in The QueerArt of Failure (2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex Gender and the End of Normal (2012), Halberstam has taken queer theory’s classic intervention, revealing what is hidden in plain sight, to interrogate everyday knowledge that is often neglected by cultural critics — cartoons, pop videos, and the questions …

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January 23, 2012, 11:44 am

Dude, Where’s My Classroom? And Other Random Thoughts

This is my first day at my new job.  I won’t bore you with it because I can’t. I’m not there yet. I’m blogging from the train going into Metropolis, connected to the Interwebz via Bluetooth (that extra $5 a month from AT&T is worth it. Trust me.) Therefore, I don’t know anything about my first day yet, except that I am going to have a set of very important tasks.

The first will be to find my classroom, which is how I came up with this title. This gives me the opportunity to point out that I am semi-shamelessly ripping off Jack Halberstam’s funny piece on Dude, Where’s My Car? This then gives me the opportunity to say that you should read Halberstam’s  The Queer Art of Failure (Duke University Press, 2011). I downloaded it on Kindle last week.  Which, in turn, gives me the chance to say, “F^ck you people who think eBooks are the end of the world!  How else could I have purchased a…

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November 4, 2011, 6:12 pm

You Know All About Eve: A GLQ Special Section on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Who has time to read journals in November, you ask?  Sometimes you just have to stop and do it: it is so much easier to neglect journal-reading now that many of us access them electronically.  Remember? They used to pile up next to the desk until either vacation would come, or you would clear the decks for three intense days of reading and throwing them away.

In any case, take the time now for one issue. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies vol. 17 no. 4 (2011) has devoted a special section to the memory of literary critic, poet, feminist and queer studies scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2 1950 – April 12 2009). It includes an essay on James Merrill by Sedgwick, introduced by her husband Hal, followed by reflections on Sedgwick and her work by Henry Abelove, Michael Moon, Kathryn Kent and Neil Hertz. (more…)

June 10, 2011, 6:40 pm

Berks Highlights: There’s Got To Be A Morning After (If You Can Make It Through The Night)

Sarah Palin is not at the Berkshire Conference

The sun is finally shining in Amherst, after a day and a night of severe weather that created delays, cancellations, and flights diverted to places like Syracuse.  Power was out for up to four or five hours in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but not at the air-conditioned opening reception last night, where we all treated each other to drinks purchased with the *two* free tickets that were stapled to the conference folder.  As most of us enjoyed ourselves at the opening plenary, dinner at Amherst Chinese (which can seat a large group if you are looking for a dinner reservation tonight) and the dessert reception, our sisters were fighting their way cross-country through a storm system that stretched from Chicago to Philadelphia.  Rumor has it that the heroic local arrangements committee was dispatching transportation to Bradley Airport in…

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May 17, 2011, 8:49 pm

The Chaz Project: Gender, Celebrity And The Emergence Of An FTM Activist

Chaz Bono, with Billie Fitzpatrick, Transition:  The Story of How I Became A Man (New York:  Dutton, 2011).  244 pages.  Illustrations, index. $25.95.

Becoming Chaz (Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, 2010).  88 minutes.  Premiered at Sundance Festival and on the Oprah Winfrey Network (May 10 2011).

Famous people live in bubbles; the children of famous people also live in bubbles, and benefit much less from the experience.  Witness Chaz, the only child of Salvatore “Sonny” Bono and Cherilyn Sarkisian, otherwise known as Cher. One of the many criticisms that will doubtless emerge about Chaz Bono’s revised history, one that centers his gender transition and his new life as an embodied man, will be some version of this: how can a person who has had access to every possible advantage represent himself as an average transman?  To this I have two answers:

Everyone’s life is worth saving, no matter …

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January 22, 2011, 12:20 am

Battle Hymn Of The Queer Tiger Aunt: Or, How Amy Chua Made Me Think About Feminism

The official logo of the Queer Tiger Aunt. Photo credit.

When I decided that instead of reading about Amy Chua‘s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother I would read the book instead, I did so for two reasons.  One was because I had become interested in the Orientalist tropes that she launched in her publicity piece, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” (Wall Street Journal, January 8 2011) and that white women then expanded upon here and other places.

The other reason was that I had some Audible credits to use, and was beginning my daily commute again.

Am I glad I did!  Here are some things I thought about by actually reading (listening to) the book, rather than basing my judgments of it on a few salacious quotes (or Janet Maslin’s review, which has numerous factual errors in it):

  • What it means to be the bridge between the immigrant generation and a generation which grows up in privilege and…

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July 26, 2010, 1:12 pm

If You Can’t Be Good, Be Careful: Or; Why Is It So Hard To Make Lesbian Movies?

If you want to read the glowing review of Lisa Cholodenko’s lesbian family flick The Kids Are Alright go to A.O. Scott (New York Times, July 8 2010). Michelle Solomon, in The Guardian (July 23 2010), is slightly more reserved, dubbing it a “relationship movie” and noting that the high-profile actresses will allow it to “[avoid] being pigeonholed as a ‘gay movie.’” (Thank god for this, that’s what I say.) If you want to read the intelligent review by a queer scholar, that will actually get into it why this is a lesbian movie, go here for Jack Halberstam’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright” (bullybloggers July 15, 2010).

My review follows: it is a terrible, awful, embarrassing, piece of crap film. I could have had a better time had I saved $11.00 ($22.00 + dinner for two actually); spent the same two hours reviewing some critical, and hideous, months in my own life; and then had a friendly…

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June 26, 2010, 3:12 pm

Uncivil Liberties: Teaching Evaluations and A Clarification

Courtesy of Margaret Soltan at University Diaries, who draws our attention to the recent exchange between Stanley Fish and Ross Douthat on this matter, I began thinking about teaching evaluations in a more orderly fashion than I have of late. My disorderly thoughts have been sparked by colleagues, several of whom are quite experienced teachers, receiving some of the rudest and cruelest teaching evaluations I have ever read at Zenith. Sexism is also on the rise, particularly among the students of younger, female faculty (who are also sometimes presumed to be adjuncts.)

I found these evaluations remarkable because my experience in the past has been that Zenith students often go out of their way to be charitable to someone they like and have empathy for, sometimes damning their professors with faint and contradictory praise as a result. The evaluations in question do the exact opposite: …

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October 2, 2009, 10:57 am

Discriminating Tastes: What People Who Are Not Normal Might Know That You Don’t Know

One of the things that prompting my last post about the restructuring of institutional benefits during a period of budget cutting was not, as some people assumed, that I think cutting faculty compensation is a viable way to save higher education. I don’t. Rather, my concern was that the failure to address compensation inequities already in place means that in a period where we might potentially rethink and repair such inequities, many people, in the name of radical opposition to The Man, can only draw the wagons closer around what already exists. More progressive change, they argue, is unrealistic in a crisis, and must be put off to a distant future, when utopia will be possible. This is the pattern of debates over national health care, and it is a belief currently prevalent at private institutions that have done for the select few what the state refuses to do for everyone (hence…

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