Please join us on October 30th from 12-1pm at the LGBT Center for an innaugural session of a newly conceived GASWorks Seminar.
Together with the LGBT Center, GSWS will offer an informal lunchtime session to discuss and workshop the precirculated work of one graduate student and one faculty member whose research touches on issues pertaining to gender, sexuality, and queer studies.
The first seminar will feature
Professor Melissa Sanchez (English)
"Against Constancy: Donne's Ethics of Love."
This chapter examines John Donne’s secular love poetry, which wrestles with the temporality of the self and its desires. In various ways, Donne’s lyrics recognize the inadequacy of an erotic rubric that equates legitimacy with longevity and its corollary that true love is directed at the eternal spirit rather than the time-bound body. Instead, Donne envisions love as something that is momentary and mutable, and no less “real” for that. At the very least, as several of his elegies acknowledge, our bodies change: gradually with age, suddenly with trauma or injury. This future of decay throws into crisis a Neoplatonic equation of the good and the beautiful, one that would makes physical beauty an allegory for the spiritual beauty that is the legitimate object of love. In order to persist, to remain constant love must change, addressing itself to what its object has become in its inescapable materiality. But because we change, our love may also take new objects, turn to disgust or indifference, or find new expressions. Accordingly, to promise to love someone in the future is really a version of the medieval rash or blind promise -- when we commit to commitment, we never really knows what we’re getting ourselves into. In such circumstances, Donne’s poetry proposes, the most ethical stance may be to understand love, and the subjectivity it seems to guarantee, as provisional.
and Don James McLaughlin (English)
"Gyn/Agora/Phobia: Horror Feminae and the Brief Decline of Affinity in Sexology's Belle Epoque".
Excerpted from the fourth chapter of my dissertation, “Gyn/Agora/Phobia: Horror Feminae and the Brief Decline of Affinity in Sexology's Belle Epoque” shows how the ascendancy of neurology and psychiatry as fields of inquiry, beginning largely in the 1870s, ushered in a new vocabulary revolving around “morbid fears,” which in turn had a powerful impact on the interrelated field of sexology and its enumeration of venereal perversions. The concept ofhorror feminae, in particular, referring to a dread of intercourse with women, became crucial to the way figures including Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, and John Addington Symonds understood homosexuality. During these same years, New York neurologist George Miller Beard (known today for having popularized the term “neurasthenia”) would describe in his Practical Treatise on Nervous Exhaustion a condition he called “Gynephobia” [sic], defined as a morbid fear of women. Intrigued by Beard’s work, Harvard Professor of Medicine and Fireside poet Oliver Wendell Holmes would base his final novel, A Mortal Antipathy (1885), on an imaginative case history of gynophobia, as suffered by protagonist Maurice Kirkwood. Turning to A Mortal Antipathy, this work in progress concludes by showing how Holmes’s novel engages with theories neurologists and sexologists were developing to explain the failure of persons like Maurice to develop proper heterosexual attractions.
To receive a paper and to reserve your lunch, please RSVP below.