December 1, 2004

LBG Studies Program Celebrates 10 Years

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The Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay studies program marked its 10th anniversary with a two-day conference held on Nov. 19 and 20 that was entitled “The Queer’s English.”

The event opened with a speech by Provost Biddy Martin. Seven Cornell alumni also spoke about their work in the field of LBG studies.

“It was amazing to see how successful and wonderful our graduate students were and have current students interact with them,” said Prof. Amy Villarejo, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, and former chair of the LBG studies program.

The LBG studies program is run under the umbrella of the feminist, gender, and sexuality studies department, and is devoted to the role sexuality plays in social relations. The program also looks at the lives, politics, and work of sexual minorities.

10 years ago, graduate students in German studies, English and other literary fields combined with a group of faculty who wanted to distinguish gender studies from the study of sexuality to start the LBG studies program.

“It is unusual to…have most of the programs activity to be driven by graduate students and graduate students’ interests,” Villarejo said.

LBG studies courses are interdisciplinary and appear in departments such as anthropology, history, and government. Graduate students are able to receive minors in the field of LBG studies while undergraduate students may obtain concentrations. Courses include titles such as FGSS 432: Sex in French and FGSS 477: Intersections in Lesbian Fiction.

The LBG studies program hopes to increase visibility for queer scholarship and issues in the future. The program already puts on many campus events such as speakers, colloquia and major conferences in the field.

Though the program faculty feel that LBG studies are well accepted as a true discipline on campus, the curriculum has had some critics who criticize certain classes for being too sexually explicit.

“[The class serves to] undermine preconceived notions about what…sexuality is, and what it means to love or desire,” said Prof. Ellis Hanson, English, who chairs the LBG studies program.

“The Queer’s English” was sponsored by the English department, the feminist, gender and sexuality studies department, the Office of the Provost and the Society for the Humanities.