Visual Aids @ MLA

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A professor from George Mason University ran a slide show of naked lesbians to accompany her presentation at the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual convention in Chicago this year.

Although South Africa legalized gay marriage in 2006, there have been “assaults on black lesbians since then,” according to Rachel Ann Lewis. She did not provide details on those assaults.

Lewis, according to her GMU page, “is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program at George Mason University.”

“Prior to joining George Mason, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Sexualities in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Connecticut. Her research and teaching interests include transnational feminisms, queer theory, sexuality, race and immigration, and human rights. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Bordering on Desire: The Cultural Politics of Lesbian Asylum. This project explores how lesbian refugees and asylum-seekers are turning towards new media and cultural production in the form of independent filmmaking, theater and performance art, and online activism as a means of resisting deportation. She teaches courses on feminist and queer theories, transnational sexualities, media and popular culture, gender, sexuality and migration, and human rights.”

Lewis spoke on a panel on “Global Human Rights and Sexualities” with Lynn M. Itagaki of Ohio State University at Columbus and Katrina M. Powell of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Itagaki offered a presentation on her research into “bystanders” but was not very clear on which direction it was heading in.

Powell spoke on proposals to close the Virginia Training Centers for the disabled. She suggested that the parents who object to the proposals could “turn to queer theories of normative discourse as a means of keeping them open.”

At the session, the audience outnumbered the three-person panel by one. When I left, they were dead even again.

It’s startling how low a turnout professors get for their exotic interests when they can’t command a captive audience.