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Downtown lecture will focus on impact of queer theory

October 14, 2013

Queer literature and theory offers up many takeaways, including the debunking of myths about homosexual behavior, an understanding of the constructedness of gender and sexuality, and a response to centuries of repression.

“Queer Literature and the Human Condition,” presented by Elizabeth McNeil and James Wermers, is the third installment of the 2013 fall Humanities Lecture Series, now in its sixth year. Hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences, the lecture is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 17, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, room 128.

The lecture series is free and open to the general public. 

“The Humanities Lecture Series provides us with opportunities to analyze, discuss and interpret current events," says Frederick C. Corey, director of ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and dean of University College. "We look forward to public discussions that help us understand and appreciate various points of view on political, social and cultural issues.”

The theme for this year’s series is “The Human Condition.” In addition to queer literature, the series has focused on Romantic poetry, humor and ethnicity.

McNeil, an instructor of English in the School of Letters and Sciences, has published several books and articles that critically examine gender and sexuality. She says queer theory and literature help scholars and academicians in a wide range of fields break down previously accepted binary modes of thinking and being that are constantly reflected in society.

“What we hope our audience gains from our talk is access to the wonderful ways queer theory opens us up to the ‘text’ of ourselves, others and the world in which we live together – in short, to the ‘human condition,’” McNeil said.

Co-lecturer Wermers, a Digital Humanities Course Manager in the School of Letters and Sciences, said that to engage in queer theory is to challenge the status quo in the face of fear.

“It is a protest against the dehumanizing tendencies of a world obsessed with fixity by suggesting that things could be other than the way they are/were/will be,” Wermers said.

The lecture series will continue on Nov. 14, with Eduardo Caro Melendez’s presentation of “Latin American Film and the Human Condition.”

The School of Letters and Sciences provides students across ASU with the knowledge and skills to comprehend and effectively engage the changing world of the 21st century at local, national and global levels. Theory, creativity and applied learning are integrated as students build entrepreneurial opportunities both inside the university and in their communities.

For more information on the Fall 2013 Humanities Lecture Series, call Mirna Lattouf, series organizer, at 602-496-0638, or email her at