Length: 8:57, 4:58, 5:12
Access: YouTube (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
Summary: How do you talk about queer theory outside of the queer studies classroom? This question has challenged scholars in the interdisciplinary field of queer studies since its inception in the late 1980s. Lisa Duggan (1994) provided a classic characterization of the trouble with talking queer theory in the proverbial 'mainstream' in her classic "Queering the State": the highly constructionist language of queer theory and the predominantly essentialist assumptions of public discourse create a kind of "language gap" between the queer studies classroom and, well, everywhere else. This language gap is not a problem, of course, unless you want to actually do something with the radical insights of queer theory in the interest of promoting social justice for gender and sexual minorities. My students tackled the problem of communicating queer theory to "lay" audiences in an applied final project for our queer theory honors seminar this semester at Arizona State University. Jenn Blazer and Jake Adler first imagined their video project as a way to "translate" queer theory to non-experts, but they found that they were unsure how to even begin such an endeavor without turning the project into a pedantic lecture on jargon. So, they interviewed two groups of people (one queer-identified group in "Phase One," and a straight-identified group in "Phase Two") about their ideas on sexuality and sexual identity. After speaking with the straight people and asking them things such as, "Can you define heteronormativity?", they showed the straight folks the responses from their queer interviewees. Then, Jenn and Jake again asked the same set of questions to the straight folks to see how their responses might change. Their results, presented in the video titled "Phase Three," are fascinating. Jenn and Jake aptly titled their project "Queering the Folk." Enjoy.
Note that these videos would pair well with Michael Warner's book, "The Trouble with Normal" and Stein & Plummer's article, "I can't even think straight': Queer Theory and the Missing Sexual Revolution in Sociology."
Submitted By: Patrick R. Grzanka