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Bodies of Knowledge 7

The seventh biennial Bodies of Knowledge Symposium 2016 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 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 was held April 10-11, 2014 and 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 held on Friday, April 15, 2011 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.”  

Preceding her presentation, local author and activist Ed Madden gave a short reading from Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio (Hub City Press, 2010) and provided a heartfelt and critically engaged introduction for Sarah Schulman.  

Lost Bois

Opening the event—with an eye towards maintaining high appeal to youth participants—the D.C.-based black lesbian hip-hop group, The Lost Bois, rocked the house, infusing positive energy into LGBTQ outreach at Upstate. (The group is pictured to the left.)

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Laura Alexandra HarrisDr. 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. Harris is an Assistant Professor of English, World Literature, and Black Studies at Pitzer College in Los Angeles County, California. She received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego. Harris publishes in the areas of literary criticism, feminist and queer studies, Black studies, African diasporic studies, and fiction and poetry. Her publications are featured in the Journal of Lesbian Studies and African American Review.  

Robert McRuerDr. Robert McRuer is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at The George Washington University, where he teaches queer theory, disability studies, and cultural studies. He 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). His articles have appeared in PMLA, Radical History Review, Genders, the Journal of Medical Humanities, and numerous other prestigious scholarly venues.

Bear BergmanS. Bear Bergman is a non-academic public intellectual who will add a dynamic energy to this event.  Although all three speakers are noted for their clear and jargon-free public speaking (an absolute must in the criteria for speaker selection), Bergman in particular promises to be an exciting showstopper finale.  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.  Bear is also a frequent lecturer and at colleges and universities regarding issues relating to gender and sexuality, and has advised the staff of numerous institutions on their policies regarding transgendered

KatastropheKatastrophe (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. Combining his love of music and language, he started rapping and making beats in 2002. He uses his poetic grasp of language to weave dense tales of lives lived outside the mainstreams of education, gender, sexuality and culture.  He makes hip-hop that explodes with dangerous and ebullient passion.  He was crowned Producer of the Year by Out Music Awards for his debute album. Kayiatos has since released a second album entitled Fault, Lies and Faultlines and his third and best full length release, The Worst Amazing was released in October on 307 Knox Records. He has toured the US and Europe several times and continues to travel to support his releases. His video for the song "The Life" was on MTV networks LOGO top ten click list for 12 weeks.  His music has helped soundtrack The Showtime Network's The L Word, as well as several short films.  Kayiatos is the subject of a forthcoming biopic called The State of Katastrophe.


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readKirk 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.  Based on the major components of Kirk Read's youth in the Reagan-era South—Dad: career military, Mom: homemaker, Son: Little League/soccer player, and Baptist youth group member—one would expect a tortured story of a gay teen life.  But early on in his life, Read developed a self-confidence and openness that has marked his career as a young queer journalist. 

julia serano1Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, spoken word performer, trans activist, and biologist with a PhD in Biology and Molecular Physics from Columbia University, and 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.  This compilation of personal essays reveals the undercurrent of misogyny in some feminist treatments of femininity, a concern shared by many nontrans women around the world.  Serano calls this the greatest tactical failure of the women’s movement, and uses her trans-specific viewpoint to revisit and reshape the complex debate over essentialism (we are born feminine/masculine; we are born gay/straight) vs. social constructionism (we are socialized into particular gender roles and sexual orientations by our culture).  Serano makes the startling assertion that there may be more to essentialism than most contemporary feminists believe.  Based on this theoretical intervention, Serano redresses many of the myths and misconceptions feminists have about transsexual women. 

jbumKeynote 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.


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kellyj1Dr. 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. James brings her background in Sociology and her experience as an “out” faculty member at Winthrop University together in an engaging style to address a number of compelling issues. Dr. James is prepared to speak on her unusually successful experience in integrating Safe Zones into Winthrop University, describing point by point the implementation of the program, as well as the philosophy behind it. Dr. James approaches the issue of sexual diversity not only from the perspective of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff, but also from the perspective of administration, outlining what the university has to gain from this sort of anti-homophobic policy, and how to actualize our stated commitment to sexual orientation as a protected category of identity within the larger rubric of our institutional commitment to diversity.

bernadetteDr. 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, according to a recent profile of her work in Women in Higher Education.  Barton’s new project is motivated by frustration at her own experiences and observations of “the intersecting forces of politics and religion” as they circumscribe the lives of gays and lesbians, and limit the perspectives of heterosexuals on homosexuals. She references widespread comments in her community that add up to hateful, misguided condemnations of sexual diversity. Lesbians and gays are the subject of stereotypes and generalizations, and Barton is building her scholarly inquiry around this problem, which she articulates in the following way: “We are talked about but not talked to.” Hardly anyone takes the trouble to ask: What do you think about this? How does this affect your life? Barton is active in the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, an LGBT group that lobbies and does work at the grassroots. She is a great model of the activist-scholar, and offers a useful example to LGBTQ youth of what it means to be an engaged citizen.

hboydHelen 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 6th 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.  Boyd has been running an online group for couples since 2000, and has spoken at many trans conferences, including the IFGE, First Event, Fantasia Fair, Southern Comfort, the Chicago Be-All, and also at special events, like Trans Issues Week at Yale University, a conference at Penn State Dickinson School of Law, and PBS’ In the Life. She’s Not the Man I Married is an unusually successful combination of memoir and queer feminist social theory. By looking closely at her own internal conflicts and the particular struggles that she and her husband face as they renegotiate their relationship and the gender roles that constitute it, Boyd insightfully reframes contemporary conversations about “femininity,” “masculinity,” and “heterosexuality,” leading the way towards a new vision of romance, fidelity, and sexual politics.

lindmannDr. 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, whose work is now considered central to the gay and lesbian literary canon as well, as an example of the usefulness of “queering” literary research, both by addressing the closeted homosexuality of the author and the subtext of gay and lesbian themes in Cather’s literary texts. Educating students and community members about famous gays and lesbians in history is one important way of encouraging self-acceptance and pride in non-normative sexual identity. Dr. Lindemann will also discuss her work in building the LGBT Studies program at University of Maryland. 

Jasmyne Cannick
Jasmyne CannickUnapologetically 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.
Her thought provoking commentaries have been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Daily News to name a few. As a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, she’s a strong advocate for the Black press. Her columns have appeared in Black newspapers from coast to coast including the Los Angeles Sentinel, Los Angeles Wave, L.A. Watts-Times, Our Weekly, the New York Amsterdam, Washington Afro, Chicago Defender, Sacramento Observer, Michigan Citizen, Oakland Post and Atlanta Daily World.
Online, she's a regular contributor to the Electronic Urban Report, Blackcommentator.com, BlackAmericaWeb.com, and the BlackAgendaReport.com. Her writings have also been featured on AllHipHop.com, AOL’s BlackVoices.com and Blackplanet.com. On air, you can usually hear her on the American Urban Radio Network's award-winning talk show “The Bev Smith Show,” National Public Radio's “News & Notes,” and “Tell Me More,” Radio One's XM station The Power 169, and locally in L.A. on KJLH 102.3 FM's “The Front Page.” A trusted source by reporters, she's been quoted in the New York Post and Los Angeles Times and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BET, Access Hollywood, NBC's Dateline, NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and more.
Jasmyne continues to be a popular speaker at colleges, universities, conferences and events discussing culture, race, sexuality and politics. She co-founded the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's Black gay civil rights group and continues to work on behalf on Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women in bringing awareness and insight into the racism that exists in the gay community and the homophobia in the Black.
In 2007, after a long battle with depression and insecurity, Jasmyne lost over 75 pounds and gained a whole lease and outlook on life. She currently leads a weekly hike for women of color in the Hollywood Hills in the hopes of inspiring more women to take control of their health and lives. 2008 will see the premiere of her first documentary film “The Incredibly True Adventures of Sistas of the Canyon,” a candid take on the ties that bind a group of African-American and Latina women in Los Angeles. Voices of mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and lesbian women spanning different generations, shapes, and sizes redefine unity and sisterhood by testing their physical and emotional boundaries that begin at the mountaintop. She works in the worlds of politics and public relations and runs her popular blog JasmyneCannick.com.

Directions to campus
Center for Women's and Gender Studies 
Bodies of Knowledge 2016 Schedule

Past events
Bodies of Knowledge 2008 View photos on Flickr!
Bodies of Knowledge 2014 View photos on Flickr!
Bodies of Knowledge 2016 View photos on Flickr!

Contact us
Dr. Lisa Johnson, Director
Center for Women's & Gender Studies
USC Upstate
800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303
(864) 503-5724