Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 2, Issue 2
spring 2012
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editor, Linda Hase
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

PhotoLGBT Studies Chair letter

It's been my pleasure to serve as interim chair of LGBT Studies this spring. Much of my time was devoted to finding a replacement for John-Albert Moseley, whose sudden departure in January we both celebrate (since there were wonderful personal reasons for his move to Boston) and lament (since he did such a superb job as our Program Manager).

I am delighted to announce that we have just appointed Craig Canfield. With an M.A.R.from the Divinity School, where he took courses in WGSS and served as co-chair of the LGBT student group, Craig has a deep commitment to the success of our intellectual project. Having most recently worked at the British Art Center, he also brings a strong set of skills that will be enormously useful to our work. I am thrilled he has agreed to take this position and hope you will join me in welcoming him.

I previously served as LGBTS chair for two years, until John Treat became chair in fall 2010. Occupying the position again, even for just a semester, has provided me a welcome opportunity to take stock of the new strengths of the committee.

Something remarkable has happened at Yale in the last three years: a phenomenal number of new faculty have been hired who have significant research or teaching interests in LGBT Studies and queer theory. These new faculty have allowed us to offer a growing number of courses in LGBT Studies or with substantial queer studies content, and this, in turn, has dramatically increased the number of students taking LGBTS courses and developing a substantial familiarity with gender, feminist, and queer theories and histories. I can see the effects in my advanced seminars, where students increasingly draw on the critical skills and knowledge they have developed in other courses. It is a thrilling development, and has prompted us to plan faculty workshops to discuss our syllabi, teaching strategies, and curricular visions.

Joe Fischel, who received his Ph.D. in political theory from the University of Chicago and will start teaching here in the fall after a postdoctoral year at Brown, is the first person to be hired by WGSS in a search targeting LGBTS, and the university's commitment to that search in a time of retrenchment is an encouraging sign. But most of our new faculty have been hired by other departments, whose interest in hiring scholars with significant expertise in the field is equally encouraging. Recent appointments include Kathryn Lofton (American Studies and Religious Studies), who teaches a popular lecture course on Religion and Sexuality, and Sam See (English), who teaches a highly regarded seminar on Queer Mythologies. There is also a remarkable new cluster of faculty who teach and/or write in part in black queer studies, including the influential art historian and critic Kobena Mercer (History of Art and African American Studies) and three junior faculty: GerShun Avilez (English and AfAm), who writes about the Black Arts movement and teaches courses on American Literary Nationalisms and Sexuality in African American Literature and Popular Culture; Marcus Hunter (Sociology), who writes about race, urbanism, and sexuality; and Jafari Allen (Anthropology and AfAm), who teaches courses on Caribbean sexualities and black feminist and queer theory and who just published his first book, Venceremos? The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba, which is a finalist for this year's Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies.

In this context, we are especially delighted that Samuel Delany, the noted science fiction writer and black queer critic, has accepted next year's James Brudner '83 Memorial Prize in LGBT Studies. Stay tuned for details about his Prize Lecture at Yale next fall.

As the number of faculty and students (both grad and undergrad) in the field dramatically grows, we are ever more grateful for the financial support of alumni and other friends, which allows us to support their research. The [Andrew] Solomon '85 Fellowship in LGBT Studies will allow three undergraduates to spend this summer conducting research in New York, Paris, and Capetown. The Bruce Cohen '83 Fund has supported student research during the school year on topics ranging from the controversy over California's Prop 8 to lesbian feminist activism in Mexico. The Wallace-Sexton Fund, established by Kirk Wallace '83 and Mark Sexton '81, has allowed us to support a dynamic mix of student research projects and LGBTS-related programming organized by undergrads. The Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies (FLAGS), established twenty years ago by a donor inspired by John Boswell and since augmented by countless alumni donations large and small, continues to support the research of our faculty and graduate students.

It is an exciting time to be writing and teaching in LGBT Studies at Yale. Please stop by and visit us sometime.

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