Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies Stephen Vider and Professor of History Sharon Ullman have co-organized the Queer Crossings lecture series. The final three lectures of the series will be taking place on Nov. 1, 13, and 15.
"It just felt like a really good time to be doing this," says Vider. "We have an unusual cluster of gender and sexuality studies courses this term, about queer history, about trans studies, about black feminist literature. There have been LGBTQ studies speakers before, of course, and lots of courses in LGBTQ studies, especially those taught by Professor Ullman, who has been here more than 25 years. But this is the first time something of this scale, a five-lecture series, is happening."
The series features lecturers from Yale University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Chicago, and Princeton University. They come from a variety of fields including English, American studies, history, health studies, and sociology.
"These are all speakers I think who are speaking to larger themes in our culture," Vider adds. "Intersectionality is something that we're now really seeing flourishing in scholarly work across disciplines. We're beginning to think not only about gender and sexuality, but how it's interwoven with race and class and ability and other categories of identity and experience. So that was really important for us as a community, to consider how we think about gender and sexuality in connection with race. Especially coming out of the conversation that's happening right now, over the last year, about the history of Bryn Mawr."
By incorporating these lectures into classroom content, bringing in students, faculty, and staff outside their departments, and integrating the lecture series’ themes with conversations happening on Bryn Mawr’s campus, Vider and Ullman have another goal: to expand the scope of LGBTQ+ studies at Bryn Mawr.
"Bryn Mawr continues to evolve," Ullman says. "I think this is a campus that has to face constant challenges in regard to addressing its own history. And I think that it has made a real commitment to diversity both in terms of faculty and diversity in the curriculum, diversity in terms of how we frame our questions, intersectionality as the dominant way to have a conversation. Things can't live in isolation, and I agree with Stephen's interest and emphasis on intersectionality as part of this series."
Previous lectures this fall include a lecture by Greta LaFleur, ’03, from Yale University on the environmental history of sexuality, based on her new book, A Natural History of Sexuality in Early America (Johns Hopkins University Press). Vider also gave a lecture at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research on the history of services to help LGBTQ youth, with a response by Carrie Jacobs, MSS ’93, GSSWSR, founder and executive director of the Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia.
"I hope this series will also be a jumping-off point for more conversations, for more lectures in the future, for more visitors," Vider says. "There is a lot of excitement and interest in LGBTQ studies already here, but we want to push that more and keep it going. Our hope is with greater interest from students, faculty, and alumni, we can expand the department and really develop this as an area of study."