"The Touch of the Queer" will be the topic when Carolyn Dinshaw of the University of California, Berkeley, speaks at UNLV on Oct. 18 as part of the University Forum lecture series.
Her presentation is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Frank and Estella Beam Hall, Room 242. It is open to the public free of charge.
Dinshaw, an associate professor of English and an internationally known scholar on the Middle Ages, is interested in the ways that Western culture has constructed its images of gay men and lesbians.
She begins with discussion of Herb Ritts' photographs for "Vanity Fair" of k.d. lang and Cindy Crawford and moves on to analyze 20th century literary texts, such as Virginia Woolf's "Orlando."
Because Western societies began to stigmatize homosexuality only in the late medieval period, Dinshaw looks at Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" and the anonymous "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" for locating the beginning of literary images of gay characters and homoerotic gestures in English tradition.
She concludes that "queerness" has been used to help establish standards of heterosexuality. Without knowing what not to do -- and who not to be -- straight members of the community lack a clear sense of their own gender roles. Thus, "queerness" helps to promote heterosexuality.
Dinshaw is the author of "Chaucer's Sexual Poetics," which won the prize for outstanding first book from the Medieval Academy of America. She also is the founder and editor of "GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies."
The University Forum lecture series is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and underwritten by the UNLV Foundation.
For additional information on Dinshaw's presentation, call 895-3467.