Bodies of Knowledge

Bodies of Knowledge 8 

The eighth biennial Bodies of Knowledge Symposium will take place at USC Upstate on April 9-11, 2018. This year's theme will be Creating a Better World for LGBTQ People.  

The symposium will feature a keynote lecture by E. Patrick Johnson, based on his forthcoming 2-volume project entitled, Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women.  

The symposium will also feature a lecture by Dr. Jaime Cantrell who will speak about archiving LGBTQ history where she will present her co-edited work of Out of the Closet, Into the Archives: Researching Sexual Histories.  

This two-day symposium will also include a dynamic array of scholarly and creative presentations, films and a catered luncheon on Wednesday. 

Generous funding from the Freeman Foundation permits us to keep the cost of the symposium low.  

Upstate students, faculty and staff:Free 

Non-USC Upstate students:  
  • $10 early registration: Accepted until Feb. 28, 2018 
  • $15 late registration: Accepted until April 1, 2018
  • $20 on-site registration: Accepted on April 9, 10, and 11, 2018
General Public: 
  • $30 early registration: Accepted until Feb. 28, 2018  
  • $35 late registration: Accepted until April 1, 2018
  • $40 on-site registration: Accepted on April 9-11, 2018

 Bodies of Knowledge 8 Registration Form

  • E. Patrick Johnson

    E.Patrick JohnsonE. Patrick Johnson is the chair of African American Studies, Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. A scholar/artist, Johnson performs nationally and internationally and has published widely in the areas of race, gender, sexuality and performance. Johnson is a prolific performer and scholar, and an inspiring teacher, whose research and artistry has greatly impacted African American studies, Performance studies, and Gender and Sexuality studies. He has written two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Duke UP, 2003), which won the Lilla A. Heston Award, the Errol Hill Book Award, and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History (University of North Carolina UP, 2008), which was recognized as a Stonewall Book Award Honor Book by the LGBT Round Table of the American Library Association. He co-edited (with Mae G. Henderson) Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology (Duke UP, 2005). He is also the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Ramón Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays (Northwestern UP, 2013). Johnson edited No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies (Duke UP, 2016) and he also co-edited Blacktino Queer Performance (with Ramón Rivera-Servera (Duke UP, 2016). He is currently working on a creative nonfiction text titled Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women as well as Black. Queer. Southern. Women. — An Oral History. His essays have appeared in Text and Performance Quarterly, Callaloo, Theater Journal, Biography and the Journal of Homosexuality, among others. Johnson’s performance work dovetails with his written work. His staged reading, “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales” is based on his book, Sweet Tea, and has toured to over 100 college campuses from 2006 to the present. In 2009, he translated the staged reading into a full-length stage play, Sweet Tea—The Play, which was co-produced by About Face Theater and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College, Chicago. The show premiered in April 2010 and a month run to rave reviews. He won a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Solo Performance for the show. In fall 2011, the show had a four-week run at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia and a two-week run at the Durham Arts Council in Feb 2014. In 2010, he was awarded the Leslie Irene Coger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Performance by the National Communication Association, the Randy Majors Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to LGBT Scholarship in Communication, and inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. In 2014 he received the Rene Castillo Otto Award for Political Theater.

    Jaime Cantrell

    Jaime CantrellProf. Jaime Cantrell is a faculty affiliate at the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where she also serves as the LGBT Program Coordinator at the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. This work is politically, pedagogically and philosophically informed by lesbian feminist goals and agendas that are both intersectional and interdisciplinary. As the faculty advisor for UM Pride Network, and the newly formed Queer People of Color undergraduate student organization at the University of Mississippi, she seeks to prepare students to understand that their educational experiences parallel activist efforts outside their learning walls, where people work collectively in meaningful, creative, and unexpected ways to transform lives—and that students are uniquely positioned to move ways of being and belonging from the institutions they attend to the communities those institutions are intended to serve. She received her M.A. in Women’s Studies from The University of Alabama (2009) and her Ph.D. in English Literature with a graduate concentration in Women's and Gender Studies from Louisiana State University (2014). She’s been awarded library and research grants from Cornell University, Duke University and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Prof. Cantrell is the author of essays and reviews appearing in Feminist Formations, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, NARAtions: the blog of the National Archives, The Journal Homosexuality, Study the South, NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality, This Book is An Action: Feminist Print Culture and Activist Aesthetics (UIP Press, 2015), and The Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk (UNC Press, 2017). She co-edited Out of the Closet, Into the Archives: Researching Sexual Histories (SUNY Press, Queer Politics and Cultures series, 2015). With a foreword by Ann Cvetkovich, Out of the Closet, Into the Archives is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best LGBT Anthology. Prof. Cantrell is presently at work on a book project tentatively titled Put a Taste of the South in Your Mouth: The Sex Life of Food in Southern Lesbian Literary Productions. Iced coffee-sipper, scone-baker, cat-lover, crawfish-peeler, festival-goer, book-reader, and garden-grower, she knows what it means to miss her hometown of New Orleans.

    Marlanda Dekine

    Marlanda DekineMarlanda Dekine is Sapient Soul, an award-winning, published, and recording poet and social transformation worker. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Furman University and her Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Dekine is the Founder and Executive Director of Speaking Down Barriers, a nonprofit that transforms our life together across human differences, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, national identity, and religion. She serves on the board of the Hub City Writers Project. Dekine has served as a therapist, consultant, group facilitator, and forensic evaluator for individuals, children, and families. She also owns and operates a transformative art label, {unnamed}, releasing art that moves. She is the author of i am from a punch & a kiss, a book of poetry.

    In April 2016, Dekine presented a TEDx talk entitled “The Transformative Power of Spoken Word”. Recipient of the 2012 Queen of the South Poetry Slam Champion, the 2016 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Engagement, the 2017 Spartanburg Business & Professional Women’s Breakfast Woman of Accomplishment, and the 2017 Business & Professional Women of South Carolina Woman of Accomplishment, Marlanda carries a torch for innovation, creativity, and our deep sense of purpose within our life.

    Ivy Gibson-Hill

    Ivy Gibson-HillIvy Gibson-Hill is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Gender Benders and serves as the LBGTQ Rights Toolkit Coordinator with Campaign for Southern Equality. Ivy lives in a small town outside of Greenville, SC where ze was born and raised and now resides with hir wife Misha. Ivy has published pieces about LGBTQ equity and trans health in The Advocate, Scalawag Magazine, and QNotes, and has done interviews with local, regional, and national news outlets.

    Ze developed a trans sensitivity training program that was approved by the US Department of Justice under the Obama Administration, and has delivered this training to colleges, universities, hospitals, non-profit organizations, and businesses across the Carolina's. In Ivy's role with Campaign for Southern Equality ze organizes direct service pop-up clinics across the Southeast delivering free services like assistance with legal name changes, HIV/AIDS testing, self defense training, immigration law, and more. Ivy also maintains Trans in the South: A Guide to Resources and Services, and works to distribute that resource and make trans health care more accessible through hir work with CSE.

    Ivy was honored to present at TEDxGreenville in 2015, and to receive the Ryan Wilson Equality Award from South Carolina Pride. Ivy has work around issues of LGBTQ equity ranging from advocating for hate crime legislation to serving on the SC Equality TransAction Committee, and beyond since 2004.

    Sheila Morris

    Sheila MorrisSheila Morris is a lesbian activist who spent the past four years collecting, compiling and editing the stories of 21 LGBTQ individuals who changed the culture and laws of the state of South Carolina. At the same time, she maintained her blog I'll Call It Like I See It which has an international following and thoughtful - sometimes humorous - commentary on current events. She is the author of four other nonfiction books including Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing which won a Goldie Award in 2008. She has also written short stories but recognizes her own fiction limitations. She was born and raised in rural Grimes County, Texas but has called South Carolina home for more than 45 years. She lives with her wife Teresa Williams and their two dogs in Columbia. She credits her storytelling abilities to her paternal grandmother.

    Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement

    Sheila Morris is the author of Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement challenges the conventional understanding of the LGBTQ movement in the United States in both place and time. Typically associated with pride marches and anti-AIDS activism on both the east and west coasts and rooted in the counterculture of the 1960s and "Stonewall Rebellion" in New York City, Southern variants of the queer liberation movement have found little room in public or scholarly memory. Confronting an aggressively hostile environment in the South, queer political organization was a late-comer to the region. But it was the very unfriendliness of Southern political soil that allowed a unique and, at times, progressive LGBTQ political community to form in South Carolina. The compelling Southern voices collected here for the first time add a missing piece to the complex puzzle of postwar queer activism in the United States. Harlan Greene, author of the novels Why We Never Danced the Charleston, What the Dead Remember, and The German Officer's Boy, provides a foreword.

  • Preliminary Program 

    Monday, April 9: Tukey Theatre

    6-8 p.m.

    Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church 

    Preview the Trailer

    Facilitation by Loree Bishop, Piedmont Care

    Tuesday, April 10: Sansbury CLC Ballroom, Room 310 

    10:50 - 11:00 a.m. Welcome Remarks, Dr. Lisa Johnson
    11:00 - 12:00 p.m.

    Committed to Home: Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement

    Speaker Introduction: Sheila R. Morris, Harriet Hancock, and Teresa Williams

    12:00 - 12:15 p.m. Registration/Check-In
    12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

    Opening Keynote: Jaime Cantrell, Out of the Closet, Into the Archives

    Speaker Introduction: Ann Merryman

    1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

    Making New LGBTQ Knowledge

    • Travis Wagner & Joshua Whitfield, USC, “Toward a Proactive Queer Southern History: The Evolution of The Queer Cola”
    • Scott Chalupa, USC: “Leaving the Quarantine: A Reparative Reader’s Survival Kit”

    • Emily Kofoed, USC Upstate: “LGBTQ Needs Assessment in Spartanburg County”

    Moderator: Courtney McDonald

    3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

    Making a Better World for LGBTQ People in the Upstate

    • Ivy Hill, Gender Benders
    • Marlanda Dekine, Speaking Down Barriers

    Speaker Introduction: UUCS Minister Scott Neely

    4:00 - 4:15 p.m.


    Wednesday, April 11: Sansbury CLC Ballroom, Room 310 

    11:30 - 12:00 a.m. Check-in/Registration
    12:00 p.m. Welcome Remarks, Dr. Lisa Johnson
    12:00 - 12:50 p.m. Luncheon Panel: Students Gathering LGBTQ Stories in Spartanburg
    1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

    Closing Keynote: E. Patrick Johnson, Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women

    Speaker Introduction: Dr. Cassandra Jones

  • 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  

    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.