…3, 2, 1, CONTACT: Delany Gives Kessler Lecture

On December 12, author and critic Samuel R. Delany delivered the 1997 David R. Kessler Lecture in the GSUC’s Harold Proshansky Auditorium. His address, entitled” . .. 3, 2, 1 Contact,” explored the importance of contact within queer communities, weaving together autobiographical narratives, economic analysis, and a social critique of the rehabilitation of Times Square. Following a rousing membership pitch (done from the vantage point of queer theory) by CLAGS Board member Ann Pellegrini, Delany received testimonials to his career from jeffrey Escoffier (Deputy Director of the Office of Gay and Lesbian Health, New York City Department of Health), Robert Reid-Pharr Uohns Hopkins University), and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (GSUC). Samuel Delany is one of the most influential and most discussed writers within the genre of science fiction. He was born and grew up in Harlem, but was brought up in privileged circumstances. This double background is evident in all of Delany’s work. He has lived most of his life in New York City, supporting himself as a freelance writer. His early novels include Babel-17 (1966) and The Einstein Intersection (1967). During a six-year hiatus from fiction writing, Delany did much critical writing, which has been collected in four books: jewel-Hinged Saw (1977), The American Show (1978), Starboard Wine (1984), and The Straits of Messina (1989). Delany’s criticism is postmodernist, aware of a contemporary, literary context that goes beyond science fiction. In the mid-1970s, Delany went public about his queer sexuality. His later work is concerned with the cultural mechanisms of eroticism and love. The Motion of Light in Water (1988), his celebrated memoir of life in the East Village during the 1960s, threw much light on the relationship between Delany’s sexuality and the science fiction he wrote at the time. It won a Hugo Prize for Best Non-Fiction. His science fiction writings of the 1970s and 1980s, including Dhalgren (1975), Triton (1975), Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984), and the Neveryon series (1979-1985), also explore the complex relationship among language, culture, and sexual identity. He also explores this theme in nonfiction wrj_ting, including critical essays on AIDS and street activism. Delany has taught at several universities since 1975. From 1988, he has been a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts.