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Gender Studies and the Humanities Lectures

Recent Gender Studies and the Humanities Lectures

Portrait image of Madelyn Detloff
February 16, 2018 10:00 AM
7191 Helen C. White
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Madelyn Detloff
English and Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University

Please join us for a roundtable discussion with Madelyn Detloff about her recently published article "Metic, Methods, and Modernism." Coffee and light snacks will be provided. All are welcome. Room is accessible. The article can be obtained here. Contact mmc@english.wisc.edu if you have any questions.

Madelyn Detloff is Professor of English and Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University (OH).  She is the author of The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the 20th Century (2008) and The Value of Virginia Woolf (2016), and co-editor of Queer Bloomsbury (2016).  She has written a number of book chapters and articles on queer theory, crip theory, modernist studies (especially Virginia Woolf and H.D.), and is a fierce advocate of social-justice-oriented teaching and research.

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February 15, 2018 4:00 PM
7191 Helen C. White, 600 N. Park Street
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Madelyn Detloff
English and Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University

In her study of the formation and spread of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt analyzed the political structures of both Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR. Perhaps because of her exhaustive critique of Nazi totalitarianism, fascism is often associated in the public imaginary with totalitarianism and dictatorships. While this was certainly the case in Nazi Germany’s brand of fascism, the common perception of a strong association between fascism and totalitarian dictatorship can serve to mask the presence of fascism in other political formations. Using Virginia Woolf’s life and political philosophy as a starting point, this paper traces the ascendency of biopower as a political and cultural formation in the early 20th century in three distinct but intertwined forms – 1.) the emergence of sexuality as a meaning making system that derived identities from seemingly intrinsic and categorizable desires, 2.) the intensification of psychological and medical reliance on eugenicist norms to mark (and often segregate) persons with “deviant” intellectual, physical, or psychological characteristics, and 3.) the justification of colonialism, conquest, and ultimately genocide through the practice and cultural dissemination of scientific racism. This essay therefore takes up the tools of queer, crip, and antiracist theories to analyze Woolf’s engagement with these three strands of biopower through her fictional, (auto)biographical, and critical writing. Can we trace the tinges of scientific racism in Woolf’s offhand comments about Jews or Indians or South Americans? How was Woolf herself treated by medical practitioners who upheld norms of mental and physical health to which Woolf did not conform? And how does Woolf’s own writing make meaning of the desires and bodily practices that are taken up and crystalized by the discourse of sexuality? The answers to these questions are not simple and not always flattering to Woolf. Given the complexity of Woolf’s art and thought, however, they yield a rich picture of how biopower worked in the early 20th century and how artists and intellectuals deployed and resisted its workings. This understanding of biopower provides impetus for speculation on the persistence of fascism into the 21st century under political guises that look more like neoliberalism than totalitarianism, yet still rely on the populist and eugenicist underpinnings of fascist ideology.

Madelyn Detloff is Professor of English and Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University (OH).  She is the author of The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the 20th Century (2008) and The Value of Virginia Woolf (2016), and co-editor of Queer Bloomsbury (2016).  She has written a number of book chapters and articles on queer theory, crip theory, modernist studies (especially Virginia Woolf and H.D.), and is a fierce advocate of social-justice-oriented teaching and research.

March 30, 2017 4:00 PM
HC White 7191
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Susan Schweik
UC Berkeley, English

"Dull Babies Made Normal By Feeble-Minded Girls’ Care: Increase of as Much as 40 Points in IQ Reported,” a science magazine headline trumpeted in 1939, describing an experiment led by psychologist Harold Skeels in which orphanage toddlers were transferred to the State Institution for “the Mentally Defective” in Glenwood, Iowa to be nurtured by women incarcerated there. Other “contrast” children left behind in the orphanage did worse by any measure. By 1940, this experiment came under scathing scholarly attack. But by the late 1960s, Harold Skeels’ work, which depended on these women, was credited as key inspiration for the development of Special Education and the notion of learning disability. This talk explores how that the systematic forgetting of what actually happened at Glenwood eroded the effectiveness of the various projects Skeels was praised for inspiring. Raising the children in tandem with the low-wage women workers who were their attendants, the women of Glenwood developed a radically interdependent kinship model that profoundly (but very briefly, and under conditions of domination) called the usual terms and stratifications of “intelligence,” “normal,” “cure,” “care,” and of “research” itself into question.

November 5, 2015 4:00 PM
6191 Helen C. White Hall, 600 N. Park St.
Gender Studies and the Humanities Lecture
Elizabeth Freeman
English, University of California, Davis

The lecture analyzes how Tino Sehgal's museum installation "Kiss" establishes the normative temporal scheme of contemporary heterosexual sex, and how a series of performances by Brennan Gerard & Ryan Kelly (who work as Gerard & Kelly) comment upon and transform that scheme. Especially at issue is the role that the rhythms established by synchrony, reciprocity, and endurance play in the discourse of "good" sex gay and straight, and the role of arrhythmia in fostering queer sexual possibilities.

Elizabeth Freeman is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Duke University Press, 2010) and the co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. In 2007 she edited a special issue of GLQ on "Queer Temporalities." Her first book, The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture was published by Duke University Press in 2002.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Art History Department, Center for Visual Culture, Communication Arts Department, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies Department, Digital Studies Program, English Department, Gender and Sexuality Caucus, and the Gender and Women's Studies Department.