1136 Lane Hall
204 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI
48109–1290
Phone: 734–764–9537
Fax: 734–764–9533

 

Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative

Upcoming Events

Ramzi FawazRamzi Fawaz, Assistant Professor of English
University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Flame On!": Nuclear Families, Unstable Molecules, and the Queer History of The Fantastic Four

Thursday, February 26, 2015
4:00 p.m.
2239 Lane Hall

Released to popular acclaim in 1961, Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four told the story of four anticommunist space adventurers who gain extraordinary powers when cosmic rays alter their physiology, granting them, respectively, control over living flame, invisibility, impenetrable rock-like skin, and physical pliability. The monstrous transformations of The Fantastic Four placed its heroes outside the bounds of Cold War gender and sexual norms: their bodies had mutated in ways that destabilized their assumed gender and sexual identities.

In this talk, Ramzi Fawaz explores the surprisingly queer evolution of the series, which used the mutated bodies of its heroes to depict the transformation of the bread-winning father, doting wife, and bickering male siblings of the 1950s nuclear family into icons of 1960s radicalism: the left-wing intellectual, the liberal feminist, the political activist, and the potential queer.

Ramzi Fawaz is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His forthcoming book, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (NYU Press: Fall 2015), received the 2013 Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Fellowship award for best first book manuscript in LGBT Studies. His research has been published in American Literature, Callaloo, and Anthropological Quarterly, and his essay on the aesthetics of AIDS cultural production appears in GLQ's special issue On the Visceral (January 2015). His current project treats the aesthetic and cultural politics of women's and gay liberation since the 1970s. Fawaz is also co-organizer, with Damon Young, of the Sexual Politics/Sexual Poetics Collective, a national working group of early-career queer studies scholars in the humanities.

Lauren Gutterman

Lauren Gutterman, University of Michigan
Saving Jeannace June Freeman: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of Homophobia in Oregon, 1961-1964

Monday, March 23, 2015
4:00 p.m.
2239 Lane Hall

In 1961, Jeannace June Freeman, a nineteen-year-old, white, butch lesbian became the first woman sentenced to death in Oregon. Together with her lover, Gertrude Nunez Jackson, Freeman murdered Jackson’s two young children. Surprisingly, though few doubted Freeman’s guilt, the public believed the court had sentenced her unjustly. Oregonians barraged the governor’s office with letters on Freeman’s behalf, voted to overturn the state’s death penalty, and compelled the governor to override her death sentence. This case thus provides a striking exception to criminologists’, legal scholars’, and historians’ arguments about the bias against gender-transgressing female criminals. This lecture will explore the reasons the public found Freeman so sympathetic—from the race of her victims, to her history of sexual abuse—and suggest how the movement to abolish capital punishment at mid-century impacted Americans’ sexual values.

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