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Conference to explore 'Moral Panics of Sexuality'


conference poster
September 27, 2011

Professors and students from across the United States will gather Oct. 7 at Arizona State University’s West campus for a daylong conference examining “Moral Panics of Sexuality.” The event, which includes the premiere of an art performance and installation based on the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, is organized by faculty members in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus.

The conference, presented by New College’s Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies (HArCS), is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required by Oct. 6 at MoralPanics@gmail.com. “Moral Panics of Sexuality” activities from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Oct. 7 will be held in the University Center Building at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road. (Lunch will be provided to conference attendees. Visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour.)

“In keynote lectures, panel presentations, and an exciting roundtable discussion, scholars and students will interrogate sexual practices, representations, and philosophies that are constructed as the source of anxious unease, if not full-blown disgust,” said Bertha Alvarez Manninen, assistant professor of philosophy in New College. “Presenters will discuss a range of topics that include male circumcision debates, international gay rights, pro-choice activism, the sexualization of children, erotic Iranian poetry, and the sexuality of colonialism.”

The day’s first keynote presentation, from 9:15 to 10 a.m., addresses “‘Tiny prostitutes, gyrating tweens, and teenage sluts, oh my!’: Navigating the moral panic of the sexualization of girls.” The speaker is Deborah Tolman, a professor of social welfare and psychology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

From 2 to 3 p.m., the second keynote examines “Sexuality early and late in life: The impact and limitations of ‘age appropriate’ frameworks.” Sara McClelland from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is the presenter.

The conference will conclude with the world premiere of a live performance and installation entitled “The Wendy House,” by Heather Warren-Crow and Kelly Rafferty. Their conceptual take on Neverland is an interactive performance and art installation confronting the sexuality of colonialism. Rafferty is a faculty member in New College; Warren-Crow is from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

The presentation of “The Wendy House” is set for 4:40 to 6:30 p.m. and will be immediately followed by a reception for conference attendees.

Additional sessions throughout the day will explore topics ranging from the moral discourse of the television series “Glee” to the scandal of America’s first sex survey to sexuality and American politics.

In addition to the HArCS Division, “Moral Panics of Sexuality” is presented by New College entities including the Center for Critical Inquiry and Cultural Studies and the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Program.