The 2007 Conference of the New England American Studies Association will examine shifting sexual sensibilities, changing sexuality legislation, and varying representations of sex, gender, sexuality, and the body in the United States, past and present. We invite paper and panel proposals in all areas of study and from the range of academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Proposals with a New England regional focus are welcome. We especially encourage proposals from those situated outside of the traditional academy, including independent scholars, curators, artists, secondary educators, administrators, and other cultural workers.
On June 26 2003, the US Supreme Court handed down a judgment in Lawrence v. Texas that legalized homosexuality. The decision was based explicitly on a new understanding of the importance of history in matters of sexuality. Even Justice Scalia’s dissent admitted that “social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time.” But the majority opinion went further. It is not only sexual morality that changes: Sex itself changes.
Gender, sex, and sexuality have always complicated and defined political and cultural life in the United States. From Anne Hutchinson’s monstrous miscarriage and Sojourner Truth’s terrifying breasts to the semen stains on Monica Lewinsky’s dress and the provocative messages in Senator Foley’s outbox, sex stories have horrified, titillated, and helped to control Americans for a long time. Today, referenda involving sexuality and morality shape elections across the country; responses to global health crises and debates over reproductive rights reflect deep social divisions. Race, class, age, and disability intertwine with sex, gender and sexuality in the cultural imaginary and in legal and architectural landscapes. These and other critical issues remind us of the complex ways gender, sex, and sexuality change, and how they in turn change our past and present.
Please submit paper or panel proposals to
by March 15, 2007
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