Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: Gender and Sexual Health: Literary, Cultural, or Historical Comparisons (11/15/2011; 3/29-4/1/2012)

Gender and Sexual Health: Literary, Cultural, or Historical Comparisons
A seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) conference, Brown University, March 29-April 1, 2012

Seminar organizers: William Spurlin (Brunel University, London), Mattia Marino (Bangor University)

The biomedicalization of gender and sexuality has a long, contested history from the nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries.  Foucault has spoken of the shift in medical knowledge in the 19th century whereby western medicine was no longer confined to a body of knowledge for curing ills, but became structured around the normal/pathological opposition.   Since then, biomedicine has produced knowledge about gender and sexuality in the name of scientific truth, not without its cultural biases, and its hegemonic status has formed the basis for directing social health policies worldwide, invoking and sustaining racial and class hierarchies, while aligning gender and sexual health with heteronormativity.  The topic is timely, given the pending publication of the new DSM and its continued problematic listings of women’s ‘sexual dysfunctions’ and gender dysphoria in children.

This seminar invites innovative comparative approaches addressing gender and sexual health across a variety of possible borders—national/linguistic, disciplinary (literary, feminist, queer, medical, postcolonial, psychoanalytic studies), and/or textual (oral histories, archives, literary texts, clinical texts, film).

Possible comparisons might include narratives or histories of HIV/AIDS, biomedical pathologizations of women’s sexuality, biomedicalizations of trans and intersexed persons, indigenous ontologies of the body/sexual health, etc.   What role has biomedicine played historically in the colonial regulation of sexuality; what are the consequences in postcolonial contexts today?  What sites of comparison might be viable between biomedicine, law, and/or activism, given that biomedical knowledge is frequently invoked to negotiate legal status, citizenship, and gender/sexual rights?

This seminar is sponsored by the Comparative Gender Studies Committee.

We invite 250-word abstracts (plus a 50-word brief speaker biography) for this seminar.  Your abstract must be submitted via the "Propose a Paper or Seminar" link at the ACLA conference website: http://acla.org/acla2012/?page_id=45.  When you submit your abstract, make sure to designate our seminar (Gender and Sexual Health) so it reaches the seminar organizers directly.  Thank you!

Deadline: November 15, 2011 (5 p.m. EST in the United States)

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