Calendar of Events

Spring 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012
Kathryn Stockton (English, Utah)
Kathryn Stockton
Kid Orientalism: How a Global Future for Child Sexuality is Now Surfacing
3:30 pm Curtin 175

Thinking across several different disciplines, Kathryn Stockton explores how distinct kinds of knowledge might square off as they intersect. She speculates on a strange dynamic just now emerging in Anglo-American public culture: a future that the public fears is coming—child sexuality—evidenced by sexting, “gay” kids in middle school, and sexual bullying—is causing exportation, of an odd sort, of a fading child (the “innocent” child) to foreign lands, where it can be rediscovered soothingly.

Staking down the center of Stockton’s speculations is the HIV child: a sexualized child in a globalized world. Indeed, she proffers two paradoxes. First, she shows how the HIV child, in the U.S., becomes the face of the threatening child more than the threatened child, messing with the narrative of childhood innocence that the U.S. general public has long favored but is increasingly starting to question. Second, she demonstrates how, in an almost opposite dynamic, world documentaries on the-child-in-peril-in-the-third-world (a genre enjoying conspicuous success on the art-film circuit) are working to restore the “Western”-style innocent child through, of all things, the sexualized, racialized, HIV child. What can explain these dueling dynamics? How are African-American fictions an antidote to these world documentaries, even though the latter are medically, historically, politically astute? How does the answer rest in part with children’s passion for signification, children’s libidinal relationship to signifiers? These are questions Stockton answers as she pits this passion against what she theorizes, in her words, as Kid Orientalism, showing that documentary films capture less of children than do fictions of fictionalized children.

Brown bag lunch with Kathryn Stockton
Friday, February 24
12 noon, Curtin 939
Background reading: “Somewhere a Child is Desiring You: A Thought Experiment for Those Not in Need” (DRAFT: Do not circulate)

Kathryn Stockton is professor of English at the University of Utah. Her specialties lie in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Literature, Queer Studies, African American Studies, American Literature and Culture, and Feminist Theory. She is the author of The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century (Duke, 2009) and Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where “Black” Meets “Queer” (Duke, 2006), among others.

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