Bodies of Knowledge
The seventh biennial Bodies of Knowledge Symposium took place at USC Upstate on March 17-18, 2016.The theme was One Queer Mother, with the concept of motherhood broadly construed. In addition to a literal focus on queer motherhood and alternative kinship, the symposium theme also represented an enthusiastic declaration of the will-to-queerness (i.e., this is gonna be one queer mother).
The symposium featured an opening lecture by Dr. Shelley M. Park, based on her groundbreaking book, Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood: Resisting Monomaternalism in Adoptive, Lesbian, Blended and Polyamorous Families (SUNY Press 2013).
Friday featured a keynote lecture by none other than queer icon Michelle Tea, whose popular online column Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea also played a role in inspiring the symposium theme.
This two-day symposium also included a dynamic array of scholarly and creative presentations, along with a catered luncheon on Friday.
Generous funding from the Freeman Foundation permits us to keep the cost of the symposium low.
Author and Cultural Icon
As the featured keynoter of this event, and as an author with a devoted fan base, Michelle Tea probably needs no introduction. Tea is an incredibly accomplished figure in the contemporary literary world, having published four memoirs, including the award-winning queer coming-of-age narrative, Valencia. She has also published a novel (Rose of No Man’s Land) and one book of poetry (The Beautiful), as well as an anthology about working-class experience (Without a Net) and another about queer femme romance (Baby, Remember My Name). Her first young adult novel, Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, was published in 2013. Most recently, Tea reached an entirely new audience through her compelling columns for the webzine xojane, “Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea,” where she documented her efforts to become pregnant and start a family with her genderqueer partner. Her talk will focus on the topic of queer motherhood and LGBT family life, perhaps also drawing on her most recent book, How to Grow Up, about the process of achieving her dreams and embracing life’s uncertainty.
Dr. Shelley M. Park
Associate Professor of Philosophy,
University of Central Florida
Park will open the symposium with a lecture based on her scholarly monograph, Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood: Resisting Monomaternalism in Adoptive, Lesbian, Blended and Polygamous Families, published by SUNY Press in 2013. From the publisher: “Bridging the gap between feminist studies of motherhood and queer theory, Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood articulates a provocative philosophy of queer kinship that need not be rooted in lesbian or gay sexual identities. . . . Despite widespread cultural insistence that every child should have one—and only one—‘real’ mother, many contemporary family constellations do not fit this mandate. Park highlights the negative consequences of this ideology and demonstrates how families created through open adoption, same-sex parenting, divorce and plural marriage can be sites of resistance. Drawing from personal experiences as both an adoptive and a biological mother and juxtaposing these autobiographical reflections with critical readings of cultural texts representing multi-mother families, Park advocates a new understanding of postmodern families as potentially queer coalitional assemblages held together by a mixture of affection and critical reflection premised on difference.”
Thursday, March 17: JM Smith Boardroom (HEC 2086)
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Registration/Check-In 1:30 - 1:40 p.m. Welcome Remarks & Speaker Introduction 1:40 - 2:55 p.m. Dr. Shelley M. Park, “Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood” 3:05 - 4:20 p.m. Queer Movement Workshop
Friday, March 18: Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom (CLC 310)
8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Registration/Check-In 8:30 - 8:45 a.m. Welcome Remarks 8:45 - 10:00 a.m. Panel (4 academic papers) 10:15 - 11:30 a.m. Plenary Session (2 creative/performative talks) 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Box Lunches 12:30 - 12:45 p.m. Afternoon Welcome and Speaker Introduction 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. Michelle Tea, “Getting Pregnant with Michelle Tea” 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger
Bodies of Knowledge 7
The theme of the seventh biennial Bodies of Knowledge Symposium was One Queer Mother, with the concept of motherhood broadly construed. In addition to a literal focus on queer motherhood and alternative kinship, the symposium theme also represents an enthusiastic declaration of the will-to-queerness (i.e., this is gonna be one queer mother).
Bodies of Knowledge 6
Bodies of Knowledge 6 focused on the various way of being LGBTQ including the broad topic of LGBTQ cultural mores. Thomas McBee kicked off the symposium with a talk on being “Trans, but Not Like You Think.” Lectures included Dr. David Halperin (author of "How to Be Gay" and co-founder of "GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies") and Dr. Bernadette Barton (author of "Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays").
Bodies of Knowledge 5
Bodies of Knowledge 5 focused on embodied knowledge at the intersection of sexual orientation and dis/ability. Terry Galloway was the featured performer. She performed a solo of "Out All Night and Lost My Shoes." The performance was an energetic mix of poetry, storytelling and stand-up comedy. Terry Galloway engaged the crowd while asking tough questions during the performance, which has been described as one of the fundamental texts in the history of disability performance.
Bodies of Knowledge 4
Bodies of Knowledge 4 took place on Thursday, October 28, 2010. The featured speaker was renowned lesbian activist and playwright, Sarah Schulman, based on her book, Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (The New Press, 2009), described by feminist activist Susan Brownmiller as “a cri de coeur woven into a utopian vision.”
Bodies of Knowledge 3
Bodies of Knowledge 3 featured several fantastic speakers and performers noted for their clear and jargon-free public speaking (an absolute must in the criteria for speaker selection).
Dr. Laura Alexandra Harris publishes on African-American femme lesbian sexual orientation and gender identity, intervening in stereotypical equations of black lesbians with “butches” and challenging the association of “femmes” with passive women.
Dr. Robert McRuer is the author of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (NYU, 2006) and The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities (NYU, 1997). He is co-editor, with Abby L. Wilkerson, of Desiring Disability: Queer Theory Meets Disability Studies, which appeared as a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2003).
S. Bear Bergman is a writer, a theater artist, an instigator, a gender-jammer, and a good example of what happens when you overeducate a contrarian. Bergman is also the author of Butch is a Noun (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006) and three award-winning solo performances, as well as a frequent contributor to anthologies on all manner of topics.
Katastrophe (aka Rocco Kayiatos) is a San Francisco-based rapper and producer, not to mention a seasoned vet on the mic who got his start competing in poetry slams in 1997. He uses his poetic grasp of language to weave dense tales of lives lived outside the mainstreams of education, gender, sexuality and culture.
Bodies of Knowledge 2
Bodies of Knowledge 2 featured several dynamic speakers.
Kirk Read lives and works in San Francisco’s Mission district, touring the United States as an author and solo performer. Read is the author of How I Learned to Snap, a memoir about being openly gay in a small Virginia high school.
Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, spoken word performer, trans activist, and biologist with a doctorate in biology and molecular physics from Columbia University. She released one of the most groundbreaking works of gender theory in recent years with her 2007 essay collection, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity.
Keynote Speaker Jennifer Baumgardner is a major figure in the contemporary women’s movement, having essentially jumpstarted the third wave of feminism with her book Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (co-authored with Amy Richards) after leaving hometown Fargo, North Dakota for a job in Manhattan at Ms. Magazine. Her most recent book took a more personal turn and explored her own experiences as a bisexual woman after having a serious relationship with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls.
Bodies of Knowledge 1
The first Bodies of Knowledge symposium included the following renowned speakers.
Dr. Kelly James comes highly recommended as a public speaker on facilitating productive dialogue and community among LGBTQ students and their heterosexual classmates, campus neighbors, and surrounding Spartanburg community members.
Dr. Bernadette Barton, a feminist sociologist on the faculty at Morehead University, is currently working on a new project called The Toxic Closet: Being Gay in the Bible Belt. Her qualitative interviews address coming out, homophobia, and the impact of religious fundamentalism on LGBTQ southerners.
Helen Boyd is the author of My Husband Betty, a memoir and treatise on transgender issues that was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and is now in its sixth printing. Her second book, She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband, has been called “the (im)perfect modern love story” and “a postmodern reflection on transness.” Her blog (en)gender can be found online at www.myhusbandbetty.com.
Dr. Marilee Lindemann is the Director of the LGBT Studies program at University of Maryland and is a Professor of English with a special focus on the novels of Willa Cather, a major figure of nineteenth-century American literature. Dr. Lindemann will present a lecture on queer theory and the American literary canon, using her scholarship on Willa Cather both by addressing the closeted homosexuality of the author and the subtext of gay and lesbian themes in Cather’s literary texts.
Unapologetically Black, Jasmyne Cannick is known for addressing the issues that others can't or simply won't. At 30, Jasmyne Cannick is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class and politics as played out in the African-American community. An award-winning journalist and blogger, Jasmyne was selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine's 25 Women Shaping the World.