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New public lecture series, course join community for discussion of LGBT issues in Syracuse

January 22, 2009

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

Sara Miller

The LGBT studies program and minor, the geography department in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Imagining America announce a new public lectures series for the spring, "Sexuality and Space: Queering Syracuse," as part of a new course aimed at enhancing discussions about sexuality and space in Syracuse by bringing students and community members into conversation with visiting scholars. All lectures are open to the public and will be held at 5 p.m. in Room 220 of Eggers Hall.

The series begins on Monday, Jan. 26, with an opening lecture by Alison Mountz and Amy Tweedy. Mountz, assistant professor of geography at the Maxwell School, and Tweedy, a doctoral student in social sciences, will speak about "what it means to 'queer' Syracuse." Mountz and Tweedy are co-teaching the new "Sexuality and Space: Queering Syracuse" (GEO/QSX 500) course this semester.

Other scheduled lectures include:

  • Monday, Feb. 23: David Valentine, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, will present "Mapping the 'Sexual': Transgender Bodies, Gay Bodies and the Geography of Ontology." His research interests include sexuality, gender, language and communication. Valentine is the author of the award-winning "Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category" (Duke University Press, 2007).
  • Monday, March 30: Judith Halberstam, professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California, will address "Queer Negativity." Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures. Her groundbreaking book, "Female Masculinity" (Duke University Press, 1998), explored non-male masculinity and tracked the impact of female masculinity upon hegemonic genders. Halberstam's last book, "In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives" (NYU Press, 2005), described and theorized queer reconfigurations of time and space in relation to subcultural scenes and the emergence of transgender visibility.
  • Monday, April 20: Michael Brown, professor of geography at the University of Washington, will present "Queer History Project: Participatory Action Research." He is the author of multiple books and articles that explore sexuality and space, citizenship, and political and urban geographies. Prominent among these texts is "Closet Space: Geographies of Metaphor From the Body to the Globe" (Routledge, 2000). Brown recently embarked on a collaborative, queer "people's history" of Seattle.

The lecture series and course are made possible through a grant by Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA), the national Syracuse University- based consortium of colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities and design. In April 2008, Imagining America announced that Mountz, along with Margaret Himley and Andrew London, co-directors of the Syracuse University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program, received a grant to develop the course "Sexuality and Space: Queering Syracuse." These first-time IA grants were aimed at supporting new courses that emphasize public scholarship and practice; benefit some component of the community and SU students; demonstrate the likelihood of becoming sustainable; incorporate the arts, humanities or design; and serve a democratic purpose.

This new course implements pedagogical exercises that engage students as participant-observers in their own communities. In addition to benefiting from the public lectures from leading scholars speaking as part of the course, students collaborate with community members to explore the queer spaces of Syracuse. They will compile and share representations of daily urban living, imagining the city and its residents as dynamic processes, sites and populations.

The course facilitates an experientially driven set of community engagements that involve participant observation, writing exercises and organized community dialogue. Discussions will culminate with a panel discussion among student researchers, city residents and organizational leaders involved in the "frontline" queering of Syracuse.

The LGBT studies program and minor, now in its third year, introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of LGBT studies. The minor is open and welcoming to all students, and offers a sustained opportunity to learn about LGBT experience, history and scholarship, and to explore fundamental questions about sexualities, bodies, identities, communities, social movements and liberation politics. Most of the courses in the minor are new and, as they come from five colleges and 11 departments, fulfill a significant gap in the curricular offerings to SU students.

The "Sexuality and Space" lecture series is additionally supported by the departments of anthropology, cultural foundations of education, communication and rhetorical studies, women's and gender studies, sociology and English, along with the College Of Human Ecology and The Writing Program.

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