What's Queer About Sex Offenders? or, Are Sex Offenders the New Queers?
New Release May 4th, 2010
The Lesbian and Gay Studies Project of the University of Chicago and The Center on Halsted to hold a conference on sex offenders in U.S. law and culture
The Lesbian and Gay Studies Project of the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago and The Center on Halsted are hosting a one-day conference entitled, What's Queer About Sex Offenders? Or, Are Sex Offenders the New Queers? The symposium features criminal justice scholars, feminist and queer theorists, and prison reform activists exploring the social history and legal concept of the "sex offender."
The conference will take place on Thursday, May 27th, 2010, 10am-6pm, at The Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. in the Hoover-Leppen Theater. It will conclude with a screening of clips from the film "Zoo," followed by a discussion with the director, Robinson Devor.
The event is free and open to the public. For a schedule of events, visit: http://genderstudies.uchicago.edu/lgsp.
In the past fifteen years, LGBT communities in the United States have been socially acknowledged and politically protected to an unprecedented degree. In those same fifteen years, federal and state laws have been enacted that regulate, punish and publicize persons deemed "sex offenders."
The shared timing of these two phenomena raises the question: now that gays are no longer sex offenders, are sex offenders the new queers?
The answer depends on how we define "sex offender" and "queer" and whether we think that gays, lesbians and transgender individuals — who of course until very recently were themselves all legally defined as criminal sex offenders — have any particular perspective to offer on state invasiveness, social demonization, victimization, consent and power.
The symposium brings together legal scholars, researchers, activists and artists. The day will be spent exploring the history of sex offender laws, and debating what the laws do, who they target and how ( and whether ) they work. What are the social, political and cultural consequences of how sex offenders, right now, are being imagined, treated, represented and punished?
Panelists include the following:
Rose Corrigan is the director of the Women's Studies Program at Drexel University, where she holds a joint appointment in the Earle Mack School of Law and in the Department of History and Politics. She has worked for over fifteen years supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence and securing women's reproductive rights.
Robinson Devor is an award-winning independent filmmaker, documentarian, and director, whose films include The Woman Chaser ( 1999 ) , Police Beat ( 2005 ) , and Zoo ( 2007 ) . He is currently working on a documentary about Sarah Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate President Ford.
Joe Fischel is a Hormel Fellow at the Center for Gender Studies and a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science. His dissertation explores contemporary understandings of sexual harm in the United States.
Laurie Jo Reynolds is the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, the campaign to end the use of long-term isolation at Tamms supermax prison in Illinois. She is an adjunct professor of Film/Video at Columbia College Chicago and a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow. She will introduce three cultural projects about sex offenders, developed by S.O. Work Group, Chicago County Fair and Thought Error.
Kathryn Bond Stockton is a professor of English at the University of Utah. Her research interests include queer studies, African-American studies, and Anglo-American literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries. She has authored several books and journal articles, including most recently The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century ( Duke UP, 2009 ) , which is currently nominated as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
Richard G. Wright is a professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College. Professor Wright researches criminal justice policy, with particular attention to anti-terrorist legislation, sex offender legislation, racial inequality, domestic violence, and child maltreatment. He is the editor of Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions ( Springer Publishing Company, 2009 ) .
Zoo: In 2005, a man in Enumclaw, Washington, died after complications resulting from having sex with a horse. With aesthetic precision and judicious care, "Zoo" documents the group of zoophilic men the death exposed, the political uproar and legislation the event generated, and the difficult questions the occurrence raises about sexual violence, intimacies, and social ostracism.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit http://genderstudies.uchicago.edu/lgsp.
The Center on Halsted is a fully ADA accessible facility. For more information regarding ADA access or for parking instructions for individuals with a valid Handicapped Parking Permit, please call 773.472.6469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Lesbian and Gay Studies Project
Center for Gender Studies, University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois 60637