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Authors Meet Critics

Authors Meet Critics sessions are designed to bring authors of recent, cutting-edge books, deemed to be important contributions to the field of women’s studies, together with discussants chosen to provide a variety of viewpoints.

Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico
Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva, University of Washington

Session Time: Friday, November 14, 2014, 10:45-12:00pm
Location: 208-C, Puerto Rico Convention Center

In their quest for greater political participation within shifting imperial fields--from Spaniards (1850-1898) to US rule (1898-current)--Puerto Ricans struggled to shape and contain conversations about race. In so doing, they crafted, negotiated, and imposed on others multiple forms of silences while reproducing the idea of a unified, racially mixed, harmonious nation. Both upper and working classes participated, although with different agendas, in the construction of a wide array of silences that together prevented serious debates about racialized domination. This book explores the ongoing racialization of Puerto Rican workers to examine the unique modalities of class- and gender-making of race within Liberal forms of rule in the Americas.


Author Bio
Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Washington. She earned her B.A. from the Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras and two M.A. degrees and a Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rodriguez has received several distinguished fellowships and research grants among them a Dorothy Danforth Compton fellowship and a Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Her current research employs Puerto Rico as a way to explore transformations in US imperial governance during the second half of the twentieth century.

  • Solsiree Del Moral, Associate Professor, Amherst College
  • Edna Acosta-Belen, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Albany-SUNY
  • Gladys Jimenez-Munoz, Binghamton University-SUNY
  • Maria del Carmen Baerga-Santini, Catedratica Asoc., Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

Are the Lips a Grave?: A Queer Feminist on the Ethics of Sex
Lynne Huffer, Emory University

Session Time: Friday, November 14, 2014, 2:30-3:45 pm
Location: 208-C, Puerto Rico Convention Center

This book articulates the possibilities of a queer feminism attentive to the lived ambiguities of sex in the contemporary world. Huffer situates ethics as the fraught terrain over which queer feminist battles have been fought and the primary reason behind the queer feminist split. The book demonstrates how race, sexuality, class, and gender interact at the various political, institutional, and cultural sites where the queer feminist split has been most salient. Those sites include the racialized history behind the decriminalization of sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas, a personal story about interracial love in the context of the transnational migration of labor and feminist calls for justice, and the lessons of 1970s bad girl Valeria Solanas in contemporary queer feminist film. Folding the feminist into the queer, Huffer ultimately calls not only for a new approach to sexual thinking but, just as crucially, for a new conception of ethics.


Author Bio
Lynne Huffer is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. In addition to this book, she is the author of Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (2010); Maternal Pasts, Feminist Futures: Nostalgia and the Question of Difference (1998); and Another Colette: The Question of Gendered Writing (1992). She serves as co-editor, with Shannon Winnubst, of philoSOPHIA: A Journal in Continental Feminism. She publishes widely in creative nonfiction in literary journals and is currently completing a limited edition artist’s book with the Chicago artist Jennifer Yorke, whose artwork graces the book’s cover.

  • Debjani Bhattacharyya, Drexel University
  • Kyoo Lee, City University of New York
  • Angela Willey, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Shannon Winnubst, Ohio State University

The Black Body in Ecstacy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography
Jennifer C. Nash, George Washington University

Session Time: Saturday, November 15, 2014, 10:45am-12:00pm
Location: 208-C, Puerto Rico Convention Center

In The Black Body in Ecstasy, Jennifer C. Nash rewrites black feminism's theory of representation. Her analysis moves beyond black feminism's preoccupation with injury and recovery to consider how racial fictions can create a space of agency and even pleasure for black female subjects. Nash's innovative readings of hardcore pornographic films from the 1970s and 1980s develop a new method of analyzing racialized pornography that focuses on black women's pleasures in blackness: delights in toying with and subverting blackness, moments of racialized excitement, deliberate enactments of hyperbolic blackness, and humorous performances of blackness that poke fun at the fantastical project of race. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and media studies, Nash creates a new black feminist interpretative practice, one attentive to the messy contradictions—between delight and discomfort, between desire and degradation—at the heart of black pleasures.

Author Bio
Jennifer C. Nash is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Women's Studies at George Washington University. Her work has appeared in Social Text, Feminist Review, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, GLQ, and Feminist Studies. She is currently working on a book project, Black Feminism Remixed, which studies the relationship between black feminism and women's studies in the contemporary university.

  • Danielle Egan, St. Lawrence University
  • Amber Musser, Washington University
  • Ariane Cruz, Pennsylvania State University
  • Kathryn Rademacker Kein, George Washington University



The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality
Suzanna Danuta Walters, Northeastern University

Session Time: Saturday, November 15, 2014, 2:30-3:45pm
Location: 208-C, Puerto Rico Convention Center

From Glee to gay marriage, from lesbian senators to out gay Marines, we have undoubtedly experienced a seismic shift in attitudes about gays in American politics and culture. Our reigning national story is that a new era of rainbow acceptance is at hand. The Tolerance Trap takes on received wisdom about gay rights, arguing that we are not “almost there,” but on the contrary have settled for a watered-down goal of tolerance and acceptance rather than a robust claim to comprehensive civil rights. Indeed, we tolerate unpleasant realities: medicine with strong side effects, a long commute, an annoying relative. Covering the gains in political inclusion and the persistence of anti-gay laws, the easy-out sexual freedom of queer youth, and the suicides and murders of those in decidedly intolerant environments, she challenges both “born this way” and “God made me this way” arguments, which similarly situate sexuality as innate and impervious to decisions we make to shape it. This book argues that a too-soon declaration of victory short-circuits full equality and deprives us all of the transformative possibilities of deep integration.

Author Bio
Suzanna Danuta Walters is currently Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University. She has written and lectured extensively on sexuality, popular culture, and feminism and is the author of several books, including All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America and Material Girls: Making Sense of Feminist Cultural Theory.

  • Nancy Naples, University of Connecticut
  • Sujata Moorti, Middlebury College