Last summer, as part of its burgeoning advocacy efforts, CLAGS introduced the first of its extremely popular, Seminars in the City. In conjunction with A Different Light Bookstore, the monthly series offers an informal but intellectually charged environment in which to discuss major works of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender and queer studies. The first two semesters have generated a great deal of excitement with enrollments far exceeding expectations. By all accounts, the conversations in the seminars have been provocative, spirited, and insightful. Each semester centers around a particular theme and is led by a CLAGS Board member with an expertise in the field. Elizabeth Freeman launched the series with “Lesbian and Gay Fictions,” and Ann Pellegrini just completed the Fall semester’s “Introducing Queer Theory.” This spring, Martin Manlansan will facilitate discussions focusing on “Histories, Cultures, and Identities.” Readings in Manalansan’s series will include Elizabeth Kennedy and Madeline Davis’ Boots of Leather, Slippers of Cold, Jennifer Robertson’s Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan, William Hawkeswood’s One of the Children: Cay Black Men in Harlem, and George Chauncey’s Cay New York. Discussions take place on the second Saturday afternoon of each month at A Different Light Bookstore, located at 151 West 19th Street in New York City. Participants are asked to make a $5 tax-deductible donation to CLAGS for each session, and A Different Light offers a 10% discount on seminar books. The first session of the spring semester will meet on February 13 from 3:00-5:00pm. To register, call CLAGS, (212) 642-2924.
Editor’s Note: The following is an enthusiastic response from JoAnn Myers, a participant in the most recent seminar series with Ann Pellegrini. Ann Pellegrini’s provocative wit coupled with her clarity in explaining the sometimes abstruse ideas helped an assortment of academics, activists, and intellectually adventurous wrap their minds around, and engage Queer Theory. By weaving fem inist theory, social constructionist theory with our own personal histories, and the varied readings (from Jagose’s Introduction to Queer Theory, David Halperin’s Saint Foucault, Eve Sedgwick’s The Epistemology of the Closet, to selections by Judith Butler, Adrienne Rich and Gayle Rubin) Pellegrini made Queer Theory accessible. The two hour monthly seminars flew by as we discussed the ideas and their impact. This seminar introduced us to the theory that informs our activisms, personal and political, from the act of perpetually coming out to the more radical transgressions of social and sexual norms. By understanding Queer Theory, we may begin to critically challenge the beliefs that underlie the national discussions of sexual politics. JoAnn Myers Kingston, New York