Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 6, Issue 1
fall 2015
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

PhotoLGBT Studies Chair’s Letter

This year, 2015, was a stellar year for LGBT Studies at Yale. Our headline event was the James R. Brudner Class of 1983 Memorial Prize, which we awarded to Professor Susan Stryker for her groundbreaking work in transgender studies. Every seat in both New York and in New Haven venues were filled to capacity as she talked about her personal and intellectual history with trans studies and trans activism.  This was a particularly important moment for the many trans-identified students and faculty at Yale, as Professor Stryker is the first trans scholar to be recognized as such by the Brudner Prize, which is the most prominent national award for scholarship in LGBT studies.

A side note: We are soliciting names for the 2016 Brudner Prize winner, so if you have any nominations for a scholar who represents the highest pinnacle of lifetime achievement and scholarly contribution to LGBT Studies, please forward that name to one of the committee members, or to lgbts.chair@yale.edu.

The Brudner was the biggest event of 2015 but was not the only one, by far. Earlier in the year, Professor Greta La Fleur hosted a major conference titled New Matters and Queer Life, which looked at the new materiality of queerness. I hosted a conference on Queering Anthropology in the spring as well, which explored the new post-queer anthropology. This fall (and in the coming spring), Ron Gregg and George Chauncey have organized an incredible Lesbian Filmmaker Series, with six key films and filmmakers.

We also brought in a tremendous number of guest speakers to speak on a wide variety of topics. For example, under the “Queer/Crip” series, we had activist Corbett O’Toole speak about the intersectionality of queer, feminist, and crip politics as well as artist and art scholar Riva Lehrer talk about art, beauty, disability, and gender. This year’sLGBT Studies Research Fellow, Anne Balay, has been conducting work on queer long-haul truckers. And last but not least, we’re thrilled to welcome Professor T.L. Cowan of the New School as a visiting scholar in the spring. She’ll be offering a groundbreaking course in transgender performative studies.

Finally, in the spring we’ll be bringing in five or six graduate students in lesbian studies to campus as part of our revamped Pettit Fellowship doctoral workshop. There will be more details about the call for applications for Pettit Fellows as well as the 2016 theme soon.

I close this chair’s letter on a sad note. After ten years as a faculty member at Yale and two years leading LGBT Studies, I have decided to accept a position at UC Berkeley as the inaugural Robert and Colleen Haas Distinguished Chair in Disability Studies. It breaks my heart to leave the campus at a time when there is more need than ever for leadership on diversity issues surrounding gender, sexuality and ethnicity; but this new position allows me to focus on the rapidly expanding field of Disability Studies in a way that was unfortunately not available at Yale. I will miss my extended ‘family’ at Yale greatly and hope that our paths will cross again.


Karen Nakamura
Chair, LGBT Studies
Associate Professor of Anthropology and East Asian Studies
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