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LGBT Studies Program and Hofstra Cultural Center present

2nd LGBT Symposium: Queer Exoticism

Thursday and Friday, October 11-12, 2007
Dr. David A. Powell, Director, LGBT Studies Program

Our search for the exotic has always been a veiled attempt to find our hidden or not-yet-determined identity. Often the foreigner symbolizes s/he who would be different but who is, in fact, that element of ourselves we seek to (re)discover. Looking abroad, then, is a commonplace metaphor for looking inside. Foreigners in literature and cinema commonly stand for the queer aspects we secretly hope to see represented. How does gazing at the foreigner or being the foreigner evoke queer desires that are often left unspoken?

But this symposium has a two-pronged ambition: How has the current state of American policy regarding same-sex couples encouraged American queers to look abroad, not just for exoticism but for civil rights policy, immigration policy, adoption policy, inheritance policy, etc.? As the country's politicians and moral leaders debate same-sex marriage, they continue to reduce queer discourse to an isolationist conception of the issues, leaving aside our potential participation in an international network. This conference seeks to examine the role of American intellectuals and activists in a movement not just of internal tolerance but also toward greater inclusion in international queer politics.


Director: David A. Powell, PhD

REGISTRATION PROGRAM
Thursday, October 11
Axinn Library, 10th floor
9-9:30 a.m. Registration and Coffee
9:30-10:15 a.m. Panel A: Greece
Chair: Robert Sulcer, Department of English, Hofstra University
  Betsy Nies, Department of English, University of North Florida
"Bringing Greece Home: William Alexander Percy's Challenge to Traditional Southern Mores"
  Steven D. Smith, Department of Comparative Literature and Languages, Hofstra University
"Figuring the Exotic Boy in Antiquity and Beyond"
  Mark John Isola, Tufts University
"From These Deconstructed Shards: The Burgeoning New Queer 'Mestizo' Consciousness in Charles Warren Stoddard's 'Chumming With a Savage'"
10:30 a.m.-Noon Panel B: Marginalization and The Unlikely Exotic
Chair: Guillermo G. Caliendo, Department of Speech Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Hofstra University
  Serkan Gorkemli, Department of English, University of Connecticut (Stamford)
"From Traditional to New Media: The Advent of Lesbian and Gay Identities in Turkey"
  Sofia Ruiz-Alfaro, Department of Spanish, Franklin & Marshall College
"Coming Out in the Jungle: Stories of Desire and Survival"
  Raul Rubio, Department of Spanish, Wellesley College
"On Stage and In Life: Mediating Sexuality, Ethnicity, and Queer Rights Through Stand-Up Comedy"
  Tamara Powell, English Department, Louisiana Tech University (with Erica Aupied, Sarah Blanchard, Amanda Carley, Christine Cormigidore, William Haywood, Carrie Patterson and Jenna Steward)
"Foreigners in Our Own Land: The Louisiana Tech Gay Straight Alliance"
12:15-1 p.m. Panel C: Queer Exoticism and the Law
Chair: Holning Lau, Law School, Hofstra Univeristy
  Stephanie Hsu, Department of English, New York University
"The Role of the Erotic in Asylum Law and Queer Immigrant Rights Activism"
  Frank Salamone, Hofstra Law School, Hofstra University
"Looking to the Northern Lights: Lessons From Norwegian in Overcoming Evangelical Opposition to Same-Sex Partnerships"
1-2:30 p.m. Lunch
2:30-3 p.m. Conference Opening
Dr. Bernard J. Firestone, Dean, Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
3-4:15 p.m. Panel D: Queer Empire
Chair: Patricia Smith, Department of English, Hofstra University
  Laurie Marhoefer, Department of History, Rutgers University
"The Queer Empire: How Imperial Imaginings Were Inscribed Into the Concept of Biological Homosexuality in Weimar-Era Germany, 1918-1933"
  Stephen da Silva, Houston Community College
"Minor Trouble, Queer Trouble in Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh"
  Frederick S. Roden, Department of English, University of Connecticut
"Maarc-André Raffalovich: A Russian-French-Jewish-Catholic Homosexual in Oscar Wilde's London"
4:30-6 p.m. Dance Presentation
"Like Electricity," Gregory Youdan, Choreographer
  "Corporate Playground"
Taylor Brandon and Gregory Youdan
  "Pursuit of Loneliness"
Gregory Youdan
Music: Contemplation by Tim Wheater
  "… still you're near"
Benjamin Myers and Gregory Youdan
Music: Brothers, Leaving by Duncan Sheik
  "What Remains"
Edward Brito, Scott Corr, Benjamin Myers, Matthew Hanley, Chaz Fenner-McBride, Gregory Youdan
Music: Matthew Ferry (Original Score): Untitled
7-9 p.m. Banquet
Friday, October 12
Axinn Library, 10th floor
9-9:30 a.m. Registration and Coffee
9:30-10:15 a.m. Panel E: North America
Chair:
  Sam See, Department of English, UCLA
"The Jungles of Henry James' Queer 'Beast'"
  Tyler T. Schmidt, Graduate Center, CUNY
"'behind or between the lines': Forgotten Black Queer History in John A. Williams's Clifford's Blues"
10:30-11:45 a.m. Panel F: The French Connection
Chair: Gail M. Schwab, Associate Dean, Hofstra University
  Brian Martin, Department of Romance Languages, Williams College
"Desert Passions: Homoerotic Sexploitation from Balzac to Iraq"
  Philippe Dubois, Department of Foreign Language Programs, Bucknell University
"Disturbingly Exotic: Queer Antics Next Door"
  David A. Powell, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Hofstra University
"11,001 Parisian Nights: Writing the Exotic in Michel Tremblay's News From Édouard"
  Ellen Mae Polglaze, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The Collard Phenomenon: Identity and Difference in Post-HIV France"
Noon-1:15 p.m. Panel G: Spain
Chair: Pepa Anastasio, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Hofstra University
  Eric Keenaghan, Department of English, SUNY Albany
"Some Queer, Deep Songs About the End of Empire: Life Lessons From the Poetic Disinterment of Federico Garcia Lorca During the Cold War"
  Vicente Lledó-Guillem, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Hofstra University
"A Medieval Mirror: Courtly Love and Sodomy in Medieval Catalonia"
  Alejandro Varderi, Department of Spanish, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
"The Gaze Abroad: Bliss and Pleasure in Severo Sarduy's Cobra"
1:15-2:30 p.m. Lunch
2:30-3:45 p.m. Panel H: Film I
Chair: Miguel-Angel Zapata, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Hofstra University
  Hiram Perez, Department of English, William Patterson University
"Queer Hybridity: The Exotic in Alea's Fresa y chocolate and Martí's 'Nuestra America'"
  Margaret Sönser Breen, Department of English and Women's Studies, University of Connecticut
"Trussed-Dressed in Translation"
  Alexandar Mihailovic, Department of Comparative Literature and Languages, Hofstra University
"The Marketing of Desire: The New Russian Consumerism and the Bisexual Triangle in Olga Stolpovskaya's Film You I Love"
4-5:15 p.m. Panel I: Film II
Chair: Gregory Pell, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Hofstra University
  Julián Guttiérrez-Albilla, Department of Spanish, Newcastle University
"Ethnic Fetishes/Ethnic Reals?: A Queer Re-Reading of the Construction of Carmen Miranda's Sexuality and Ethnicity in Hollywood"
  Caetlin Benson-Allott, Department of English, Cornell University
"Removing Sex Sells: The Video Censorship of Queer Foreign Films in the United States"
6-7 p.m. Closing Reception

Symposium Summaries

Caetlin Benson-Allott, Department of English, Cornell University
"Removing Sex Sells: The Video Censorship of Queer Foreign Films in the United States"

Since the days of silent cinema, US film studios and distributors have routinely marginalized foreign-language films by casting them as sexual threats to American morals, but in recent years such attempts to exoticize and demonize foreign depictions of sexuality have benefited from a change of venue. Now most US film-viewers watch most of their movies on video, so the industry's tradition of sidelining and censoring foreign films has also moved to video. As the Hollywood studios consolidate new media distribution and kowtow to the major video outlets' "decency policies," queer and sexuality-explicit foreign films encounter increasing distribution difficulties. Today many sexually-engaged foreign-films, like Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu mamá también (2002), appear unrated-yet-intact in a limited number of US theaters and then re-edited-but-R-rated for video rental. Thus a format that was invented to increase viewers' private access to motion picture pleasures now limits the forms those pleasure get to take.


Margaret Sönser Breen, Department of English and Women's Studies, University of Connecticut
"Trussed-Dressed in Translation"

How does one make space within language to live one's life and not feel monstrous, particularly when one's imaginings of gender, sex, and sexuality are not those of the norm? More specifically, how can translation, by which I mean the equations within, between, or among languages, function as a vehicle for recognising and opening up systems of interpretation that do not stigmatise gender and sexual variability? As these questions suggest, this is a paper about translation and how, as both a linguistic operation and a metaphor, it offers an empowering context for considering transgressive constructions of genders, sexes, and sexualities. In order to examine this relation between translation and such transgressive bodies I turn to Pedro Almodóvar's film All About My Mother (1999). This zany melodrama offers important insights into translation's capacity to refigure meaning-to reorient understanding of queer bodies so that monstrosity is aligned with rather than placed in opposition to humanity.


Stephen da Silva, Department of English, Houston Community College
"Minor Trouble, Queer Trouble in Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh"

Salman Rushdie in his representation of Aires Camacho in The Moor's Last Sigh both draws on and troubles the associations among homosexuality, immaturity, and the civilizing mission of English literature which have been salient to both homophobic and homophilic Anglo-American representations of the subaltern homosexual. If colonial discourse represented the subaltern as a primitive requiring the humanizing force of English literature to gain full maturity, sexology and a vulgarized strain of psychoanalysis represented the homosexual as equally developmentally arrested. Homophilic reverse discourses assumed that an alliance could be drawn between the Western homosexual and the subaltern primitive, an alliance which could transvalue and celebrate the minor. The figure of Aires Camacho irresistably evokes these associations and dramatizes their incoherences and contradictions. Rushdie's strategy has risks, but I would contend that it also has greater anti-homophobic political potential than the Romantic transvaluation of the minor homosexual.


Philippe Dubois, Department of Foreign Language Programs, Bucknell University
"Disturbingly Exotic: Queer Antics Next Door"

Mirroring the recurrent preoccupations of his contemporaries, the figure of the bachelor and its numerous manifestations has been the object of sustained attention throughout Balzac's works. The evolution of the status of male and female bachelors from marginalized social figures to exotic and popular literary types often provided an enticing peak into non-normative forms of socialization. Taking Cousin Pons as a point of departure, this paper examines how a literarily recognized union between two men, the old Pons and his foreign companion Schmucke, engages in the reformulation of social and sexual contracts. My discussion will focus specifically on the key role of Pons' eccentric monomaniac dispositions and issues of inheritance as they boldly question rights of filiations as well as queer relations to law, economics and family.


Serkan Gorkemli, Department of English, University of Connecticut
"From Traditional to New Media: The Advent of Lesbian and Gay Identities in Turkey"

Current scholarly discussions of the Internet and queer cybercultures do not adequately address possible specific connections between the pre-Internet ways of accessing knowledge about queer individuals and communities, and the current Internet-mediated access to such knowledge. In order to comprehend adequately how the Internet has revolutionized queer populations' access to knowledge and community, it is necessary to establish such connections between pre-internet and post-internet queer experiences in relation to both traditional and new media. In addition to pre and post Internet connections, the recent globalization of the commercial Internet also necessitates attention to cultural differences in international queer populations' ways of accessing queer knowledge and experience. This paper proposes to address these two concerns, pre vs. post internet accesses and cultural differences thereof, by focusing specifically upon the significant changes the digital media brought to queer access to knowledge and community in the case of the formation of lesbian and gay identities in Turkey. Specifically, it will draw on my interviews with the Turkish lesbian and gay students about their perceptions of the role of various media in their changing access to information and other queer individuals.


Julián Daniel Guttiérrez-Albilla, School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University
"Ethnic Fetishes/Ethnic Reals?: A Queer Re-Reading of the Construction of Carmen Miranda's Sexuality and Ethnicity in Hollywood"

This paper explores the way in which gender, sexual and ethnic discourses intersect in the representation of Latina ethnic and feminine identity and subjectivity as embodied in the cinematic image of Carmen Miranda. I pay attention to the way that her cinematic image perpetuates or challenges the stereotypes of Latinos and Latinas created in the dominant Hollywood film industry, whereby Latina characters have been absent or overshadowed or had to fit 'neatly' within the stereotypes of the foreign other. The main focus of this paper is, however, to analyze, from a queer subject position, how Miranda's cinematic image may be read as a body that holds and uncovers fantasies and anxieties of the dominant ideology in relation to gender, sexual and ethnic difference. This paper deals, then, with how Miranda reveals and conceals conflictive inscriptions of gender, sexual and ethnic anxieties and/or pleasures.


Stephanie Hsu, Department of English, New York University
"The Role of the Exotic in Asylum Law and Queer Immigrant Rights Activism"

This paper discusses Tara's Crossing, a play by New York-based playwright, Jeffrey Solomon, which is modeled on the actual experience of an Indo-Caribbean transgender woman from Guyana who was detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement upon entering the country without official documents. This paper suggests that the circumstances around the production and local reception of Solomon's play offer an opportunity to examine, in a performance-based context, the very issues that are at stake today in cases of political asylum: the status of narrative authority and the construction of new legal subjectivities based on such narratives. While Tara's transgender identity is not recognized under asylum law as a legal identity, her transgender subjectivity is nonetheless consolidated by her creative resistance to the asylum state's demands - a resistance that turns on the narrative manipulation of the notion of the exotic that is inherent in the political concept of asylum.


Mark John Isola, Tufts University
"From These Deconstructed Shards: The Burgeoning New Queer 'Mestizo' Consciousness in Charles Warren Stoddard's 'Chumming with a Savage'"

American writer Charles Warren Stoddard (1843-1909) published his South-Sea Idyls in 1873. Stoddard's short story collection is riddled with a problematic homoerotic primitivism. Through this queer textual exoticism, Stoddard expressed a gay male American subjectivity. Joseph Boone's detection of the homoerotic Orientalism found in European literature provides a helpful understanding of Stoddard's primitivism. Yet, a careful reading uncovers more than a secondary act of abjection, suggesting an impulse akin to Gloria Anzaldua's conception of "Queer Mestizo" consciousness. However, Stoddard is unable to fully actualize the communitarian productivity Anzaldua posits as being available from the position of alterity. Unlike the New Mestiza, who uses the deconstructed self to construct community, Stoddard deconstructs only to inevitably reconstruct the dominant order's racist discourses. Within these deconstructed shards, Stoddard expressed more than a secondary act of abjection and evidenced something like a burgeoning New Queer Mestizo consciousness in the nascent gay male American subjectivity.


Eric Keenaghan, Department of English, SUNY Albany
"Some Queer, Deep Songs about the End of Empire: Life Lessons from the Poetic Disinterment of Federico García Lorca during the Cold War"

From the 1950s through the 1970s, many gay male poets in the United States were fascinated with the figure of Federico García Lorca, the homosexual Spanish poet whose assassination by General Francisco Franco's soldiers made him an early martyr for anti-fascism. His politicized vision of poetry's potential to convey the genius of the Andalusian countryside and its people, whose Moorish culture and gypsy heritage linked Europe to the larger world, appealed to many who sought a model for a politicized "gay" and "cosmopolitan" poetry prior to, and just after, Stonewall. In this milieu, where anti-racist and anti-homophobic politics eventually would intersect with anti-imperialism and anti-war sentiments, the Spanish poet would provide an example of politicized commitment that did not compromise his own aesthetic vision. Some writers, such as Robert Duncan and Stephen Jonas, were drawn to another dimension of García Lorca's work, though. They worked through the Spaniard's passionate poetics of lo cante jondo (or, "the deep song") and la duende to trouble state politics and a liberalist faith in the sovereign subject. Although they worked through such passion from the position of queer subjects, García Lorca provided a precedent of the possibly universal dimensions of such a deconstructive project. Duncan and Jonas would approach the Spaniard's body, each in his own way. Yet, both arrived at similar ideas about how an ethical relation to one's world begins in allowing one's self to be vulnerable to the genius of a place and to others. The intimate relationships they reimagined in relation to their people, their own bodies, and language itself establishes precedents we might use in queer theory for rethinking our own impassioned approaches to cultural and political critique.


Vicente Lledó-Guillem, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Hofstra University
"A Medieval Mirror: Courtly Love and Sodomy in Medieval Catalonia"

This presentation focuses on Paloma Díaz-Mas' La Tierra Fértil. The book was published in 1999 and it tells the story of Arnau de Bonastre, a Catalan noble who, after being exposed to homoerotic behavior as a prisoner in Muslim lands, lives a love story with another Christian in his homeland following the rules of the so-called courtly love. The story takes place in 13th century Europe. I will demonstrate that the author provides a new vision of sexuality and homoerotism in the Scholastic Period in which sodomy is accepted by both the Church and the Feudal System and in a way Díaz-Mas is inviting us to follow the example in our contemporary society.


Laurie Marhoefer, Department of History, Rutgers
"The Queer Empire: How Imperial Imaginings Were Inscribed Into the Concept of Biological Homosexuality in Weimar-era Germany 1918-1933"

Scholars of imperialism have shown that Europeans found empire sexy. My paper extends this insight to the writings of self-identified homosexual men and lesbians during Germany's Weimar Republic (1918-1933), focusing especially on the work of sexologist/activist Magnus Hirschfeld. Germans imagined a queer empire of biological "homosexuals." Traveling through this empire (either in reality or in fiction) they recognized the biological basis of their own "homosexuality" by regarding exotic non-European "homosexuals." This produced a queer empire: a secret, world-wide club of "homosexuals" in which Europeans could experience the thrill of short-term romance with their "fellow species" (Artgenossen) without recognizing the imperialist implications of sex tourism. The imbeddedness of race and empire within the discourse of biological homosexuality brought homosexual activists to endorse a domestic sexual bio-politics that mimicked empire. I argue that today's queer politics ought to recognize how homosexuality, eugenics and race have historically been imagined as facets of the same all-determining human biology?


Brian Martin, Department of Romance Languages, Williams College
"Desert Passions: Homoerotic Sexploitation from Balzac to Iraq"

For Napoléon, the Egyptian Campaign (1798-1799) was a great political victory. But for the men of his invading armies, Napoléon's mythic conquest in the land of the pharaohs was an overwhelming military defeat. Of the fifty thousand men who set out from France, three-quarters perished in the sands of the Egyptian desert. Balzac's A Passion in the Desert (1830) recounts the adventure of one Napoleonic soldier who survives the perils of the Egyptian Campaign by depending on the affectionate care of military friendship. In its complex symbolic field of triangular erotic relations, Balzac's text can be read as a metaphor for military homoeroticism, as well as an allegory on colonial conquest and sexploitation. Eschewing anachronism, how might Balzac's text resonate today during the ongoing war in Iraq, the aftermath of Abu Graib, and continuing debates on gays in the military? How might recent arrests and executions of gay men in Egypt (2001) and Iran (2005-2007) reflect ancient debates on Islamic homoeroticism and Western influence? How might contemporary queer exoticism echo Balzac's desert passions?


Alexandar Mihailovic, Department of Comparative Literature & Languages, Hofstra University
"The Marketing of Desire: The New Russian Consumerism and the Bisexual Triangle in Olga Stolpovskaya's Film You I Love"

In her 2004 film You I Love, first-time film director Olga Stolpovskaya portrays a bisexual triangle between a heterosexual Russian yuppie couple and a Kalmyk boy who leads a hardscrabble life in Moscow. One man is an affluent advertising executive and the other an indigent migrant worker from a non-Slavic community within Russian territory. By portraying sympathetically an undocumented laborer of Turkic nationality, Stolpovskaya gives a human face to the demonized presence of Central Asian "Other" in major Russian cities. Timofey, Uloomji and Vera discover both the stubbornness and polymorphousness of their own desires, and come to the realization that the marketplace of consumer products represents only a dim simulacrum of their sexual orientations. The film casts a jaundiced look at the statist commercialism and unmediated product fetishism of Putin's Russia, underscoring the limitations of consumerism as a catalyst for genuine identity-formation.


Betsy Nies, Department of English, University of North Florida
"Bringing Greece Home: William Alexander Percy's Challenge to Traditional Southern Mores"

Southern historian W. J. Cash called William Alexander Percy "that exceedingly rare thing, a surviving authentic Southern aristocrat." Son of a Mississippi Senator and planter, grandson of a Civil War colonel and plantation owner, Percy strove to follow his forefathers' leads, serving as an officer in World War I, a lawyer and leader in the community, and the owner of an extensive share-cropping plantation. While his public record supports a heterosexual aristocratic identity, his poetry and autobiography Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (1946) suggest otherwise. This paper will explore the way Percy challenges the racial and gender hierarchies of his own Southern background through the integration of Grecian imagery in his works; a frequent visitor to gay resorts in the Mediterranean islands and friend to leading members of the English Uranians, Percy offers contemporary readers insights into the threat homosexuality posed to the underlying social structure of the early twentieth century Delta.


Hiram Pérez, Department of English, William Patterson University
"Queer Hybridity: The Exotic in Gutiérrez Alea's Fresa y chocolate and Martí's 'Nuestra America'"

Reading Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's film Fresa y chocolate (1993) next to Jose Martí's essay, "Nuestra America" (1891), I explore the entanglements of race and sexuality in each text. I consider how gay male spectatorship in the US projects a problematic cosmopolitanism onto the film; alternatively, I insist on reading the film within a local context, situating it as a contemporary expression of Martí's nationalism. Betraying the anxiety among elite white creoles over Cuba's place among modern nations, Martí reduces the contrast between Cuba and its colonizers to a contest of masculinity. He sets out to both exoticize and feminize the European and North American man. This exoticization together with Martí's claim to a metaphoric hybridity transform the white creole into dusky native, distancing him from his colonial past. I examine the contradictions that arise when the exoticizing gaze of gay cosmopolitanism iconicizes the abject queer exotic that haunts Cuban nationalism.


Ellen Mae Polglaze, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The Collard Phenomenon: Identity and Difference in Post-HIV France"

In the minds of most people, France is a country associated with individual freedom, particularly sexual freedom. While this is by no means a misconception, France does have periods of conservatism and taboo topics that, even in literary and intellectual circles, can create shock waves. In the post-HIV and increasingly international climate of today's France, transgressive sexuality and anti-Arab racism are two such topics. Cyril Collard discusses them both in his novel Savage Nights. I will examine the cultural importance of Savage Nights by engaging Collard's treatment of identity in the text: how the text's narrator forms his personal identity, how identity may be based on non-belonging, and the parallels Collard presents between the identities of PWA's and persons of Arab descent. I propose that Collard is so influential because his creation of a personal identity through transgression and non-belonging becomes a political declaration; the valorization of difference necessarily demands a politic that gives a place to the other.


David A. Powell, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Hofstra University
"11,001 Parisian Nights: Writing the Exotic in Michel Tremblay's News From Édouard"

A French-Canadian gay man whose drag queen existence parallels his daytime working in a shoe shop in the English-speaking part of Montreal, Édouard is already an impressive bundle of exoticism. But when he travels to Paris to find his cultural roots, he becomes the object of exotic derision; at the same time he discovers that the city of his dreams is nothing like his dreams. Positioned just at the end of Québec's Quiet Revolution, Tremblay's novel suggests that a self-constructed safe space differs very little from exoticism: both value difference, as perceived at once from the inside and from the outside, as the basis for an identity when, in fact, they both lead only to illusion. Édouard responds to this discovery by inventing yet another layer of exoticism through writing and story-telling. I examine the intersection of writing and exoticism and how this blend heightens the reader's ability to understand and navigate the exotic.


Tamara Powell, English Department, LA Tech University, with Erica Aupied, Sara Blanchard, Amanda Carley, Christine Cormigidore, William Haywood, Carrie Patterson, and Jenna Steward
"Foreigners in Our Own Land: The Louisiana Tech Gay Straight Alliance"

This short panel will discuss the "exotic" experience of being willingly identified as homosexual on a conservative state college campus in the Bible Belt. Carrie Patterson will present a short history of the previous incarnation of the Louisiana Tech GSA. Jenna Steward will tell us what it's like to be part of the GSA on this campus-overall reactions and unlikely support. William Haywood will share with us experiences with harassment on campus. Amanda Carley will tell us about the burden and joy of Safe Space training, including training Tech faculty to respond more appropriately to GLBTQ students. Sara Blanchard will tell us about the recent success of our first observance of the National Day of Silence. Christine Comingore will discuss what the GSA seems to signify for students, faculty, administration, allies and enemies. Tammy Powell will talk about previous experiences of GSAs compared with our own, and speculations on why this GSA has been allowed to survive. Finally, the group will predict some directions for the future, including a possible office for the GSA and a push for an institutionalized response to anti-GLBTQ harassment from Student Affairs.


Frederick S. Roden, Department of English, University of Connecticut
"Marc-André Raffalovich: A Russian-French-Jewish-Catholic Homosexual in Oscar Wilde's London"

This paper seeks to explore the treatment of Marc-Andre Raffalovich in fin-de-siecle discourse and later writings played against our understanding of Oscar Wilde. Raffalovich and Wilde both inhabited liminal positions in late Victorian English culture as homosexuals and foreigners. I argue that Raffalovich's Jewish otherness made him more vulnerable than his British counterparts to persecutions of sex criminals at the time of the Wilde trials - as some have suggested regarding Wilde's Irishness. Raffalovich went on to publish a sexological apologia for homosexual orientation, Uranisme et Unisexualite (written in French for a series on criminal anthropology, and never printed in England), that is often critiqued for its harshness to Wilde and its rigid guidelines regarding normative behavior. I also give consideration to another complication to Raffalovich's identity: his later role as a Roman Catholic convert.


Raul Rubio, Department of Spanish, Wellesley College
"On Stage and In-Life: Mediating Sexuality, Ethnicity, and Queer Rights through Stand-up Comedy"

This paper devises a framework for the analysis of LGBTQ stand-up comedic performance as activism, focusing specifically on the work of U.S. performers of diverse ethnicities which have garnered public and media interest, thus creating a following and a genre that is now subject of multiple TV shows, community events, and national tours. Following a reception-based approach, the paper combines a textual analysis of performances and endeavors that situate these events as interventions of community catharsis and public consciousness. I argue that stand-up comedy as activism is a means for mediating and disseminating cultural difference. I envision stand-up comedy performance as cultural citizenship, and as such, it contributes to the global movement for diversity, equality rights, gender and sexualities education, and (national and international) GLBT understanding. Drawing upon discussions pertaining to the aesthetics of exoticism which largely drives the contemporary cultural consumer market, the paper suggests how the subjects or "material" pertaining to the stand-up comedy genre, as well the "performer-activists," provoke current understanding and change throughout the country as well as with international LGBTQ communities in countries that have already moved ahead with equality.


Sofia Ruiz-Alfaro, Department of Spanish, Franklin & Marshall College
"Coming Out in the Jungle: Stories of Desire and Survival"

“Coming out in the Jungle: Stories of Desire and Survival” explores the figure of singer Chavela Vargas as a queer artist who has created a place/space for Latin American and Spanish lesbians in which queer women establish their lesbian subjectivity and seek out recognition, viability, and agency. I study the events surrounding her public “coming out” in Spain in the year 2000 and how Chavela conceptualizes her sexual orientation as coming from a “natural” and remote world. My paper focuses on the first chapter of her memoir Y si quieres saber de mi pasado [And if You Want to Know about My Past] (2002) and analyzes the fundamental role that the exotic, the jungle of Veracruz, and all its inhabitants plays in Chavela’s symbolic world of lesbian sexual desire.


Frank C. Salamone, Law School, Hofstra University
"Looking to the Northern Lights: Lessons for American Advocates for Same-Sex Partnership Rights in Overcoming Evangelical Opposition from the Norwegian Experience"

In 1993, Norwegian evangelical activists studiously emulated the tactics of the U.S. Christian Coalition in an effort to defeat the Registered Partnership Act, which created a system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples in Norway. While these tactics had proven successful in the United States and continue to challenge American advocates for same-sex partnership recognition, they backfired spectacularly in Norway. Norwegian fundamentalist involvement actually aided the passage of the legislation it sought to defeat. This outcome was radically different from that in the United States, where evangelical activists have persistently demonstrated a significant influence on limiting the rights afforded same-sex partners. In this paper, I engage the symposium theme of queer exoticism by looking at how, in the context of Norwegian political culture, the evangelical movement was an exotic and unwelcome element. This is in start contrast with the American political landscape, where the evangelical movement is deeply integrated and actively works toward the exclusion and exoticization of LGBT persons. Evangelicals were viewed as an exotic and unwelcome element in the Norwegian debate over same-sex partnerships, while LGBT persons had several insider champions among legislators and the media. This provides an interesting and thought-provoking spin on the conference theme by exploring how those who work to exoticize and exclude LGBT persons actually wound up excluding themselves and bringing about greater inclusion of LGBT persons through their efforts to exclude LGBT couples from partnership benefits.


Sam See, Department of English, UCLA
"The Jungles of Henry James' Queer 'Beast'"

Why does Henry James title one of his queerest and most critically renowned stories "The Beast in the Jungle"? What do the title's exoticist nouns have to do with the story's queerness? Answering these questions from a historical perspective, I argue that James co-opts the title's terms from early 20th-century sexological and degeneration theories which characterize the fin-de-siècle homoerotic subject and racial others as pathologically bestial. In James' hand, however, the title's "beast" denotes an exoticized queer, John Marcher, whose taxonomic intractability-he is not a "homosexual"-queers sexual identity and positions homoeroticism as natural. To James, while the beast may symbolize the pathologically atavistic in degeneration theory, it may also symbolize the natural, the very category against which degeneration theorists and contemporary queer scholars alike oppose homoeroticism. Queering historical theories of the exotic and the erotic, James' "Beast" ultimately challenges contemporary critics to discover the natural, if not naturalized, jungles and beasts within what we know as queerness today.


Tyler T. Schmidt, Graduate Center, CUNY
"'behind or between the lines': Forgotten Black Queer History in John A. Williams's Clifford's Blues"

Centered on a reading of John A. Williams's novel Clifford's Blues (1999), the diary of a black gay jazz musician in a Nazi concentration camp, this paper aims to complicate the dominant narrative of African Americans' experiences abroad as being racially, artistically, and often sexually liberating. Historically imagined as the racial "Other," a foreigner within his own nation, the African American abroad troubles treasured theories of racial identification. In depicting Dachau-a site that simultaneously attempts to define the boundaries of the exotic and to curtail and destroy such figures of difference-Williams ultimately rejects the notion that one's desire for the queer exotic is in actuality a search for self-illumination. Instead this historical fiction insists on the intricacies and interdependencies of queer (both interracial and homosexual) desire and violence, of exoticism and subjugation.


Steven D. Smith, Department of Comparative Literature & Languages, Hofstra University
"Figuring the Exotic Boy in Antiquity and Beyond"

The origins of east/west cultural stereotyping, and hence the very notion of exoticism, extend at least as far back as Greek epic poetry of the 8th century BC, and so an inquiry into the exploitation of foreign youth as a queer pathology might effectively begin with an analysis of representations of the exotic boy in ancient literature. I will consider the figure of Ganymede in Virgil's Aeneid, the various attractive boys in Greek and Latin fiction of the Roman imperial period, and the relationship between Alexander the Great and the Persian eunuch Bagoas. Ultimately this paper will suggest that homosexual exploitation of the exotic boy and its attendant anxieties represent a locus of continuity for an imperial paradigm that extends from classical antiquity to the modern period.


Alejandro Varderi, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
"The Gaze Abroad: Bliss and Pleasure in Severo Sarduy's Cobra"

This paper deals with the reading of Severo Sarduy's Cobra as a flexible body of desire following Roland Barthes's The Pleasure of the Text. The excesses in its style are the ingredients that the reader needs in order to develop the state of being alone in front of the text and, consequently, of being faced with an object whose bliss rely on his/her particular way of reading the novel. Another focus of this paper is the reading of Cobra according to Roland Barthes's words "I double my image," with the intention of duplicating the state of being alone inside the system of relationships that the novel establishes. A state defined by the text, and by the process of being written by an author ?a lover? whose ultimate purpose is to make the reader feel suspense, bliss, lost, drama, catastrophe… in sum: pleasure.