As part of an ongoing effort to expand campus dialogue of queer-related issues, the Stanford Program in Feminist Studies and the Queer Studies Coalition have collaborated on the University’s first queer studies lecture series, which is offered this spring as a 1-unit class.
Queer studies postdoctoral fellow Shana Goldin-Perschbacher called the series “the first of its kind at Stanford.” She teamed up with Alok Vaid-Menon ’13, undergraduate chair of the Queer Studies Coalition, to coordinate the weekly event.
The class covers a range of topics, such as “By the Numbers: Gays, Lesbians and Their Families in the US” and “Queer History of Late Imperial China.” Lecturers come from various fields, with representatives from the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, the Department of History and the Department of Drama all participating in talks.
“We wanted it to be a space where people could come and hear about queer studies and think about how they could apply these methods and theories to their own work, regardless of their field of study,” Vaid-Menon said. “I truly believe that queer critique and analysis is interdisciplinary and crucial for people from all academic backgrounds.”
Both Vaid-Menon and Goldin-Perschbacher said the series keeps up with the growing support of queer studies on campus.
In September 2010, the ASSU passed a bill encouraging the creation of a minor in queer studies.
According to Goldin-Perschbacher, a “queer studies sub-plan” within the Feminist Studies major has been approved by the Registrar’s office since last summer, and the Department of Feminist Studies is also working to develop a Ph.D. minor in feminist and queer studies in response to interest from graduate students.
“Stanford has been offering courses on queer studies for many years, but thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of student-led initiatives over many years, we’re adding more classes, a lecture series, a Book Salon [and] a postdoctoral fellow,” Goldin-Perschbacher said.
“The issue with queer studies is that because it’s such a foreign field to most of us, most people don’t think it has anything to do with them,” Vaid-Menon said.
The definition on the Department of Feminist Studies website describes queer studies as a “multi-disciplinary approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and queer life, political movements, identities, theories and cultures” that “seeks to destabilize the notion of normative sexuality and gender.”
More opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to learn about queer studies are necessary, as interest in queer studies seems to be growing, according to Vaid-Menon and Goldin-Perschbacher.
“I know many students have wanted to learn more about queer studies or take classes in feminist studies or queer studies, but haven’t had room in their schedule,” Vaid-Menon said.
The 1-unit class this quarter is open for anyone to attend regardless of enrollment. Lectures are held in the Blume Earthquake Center on Tuesdays from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. According to Vaid-Menon, there is no homework.