Lgbt Studies and Queer Theory: New Conflicts, Collaborations, and Contested Terrain”–studying us

Lovaas, Karen E, John P. Elia and Gust A. Yep, editors. “LGBT Studies and Queer Theory: New Conflicts, Collaborations and Contested Terrain”. Harrington Park Press, 2007.

Studying Us

Amos Lassen

Several years ago gay and lesbian studies departments were added to the curriculum of several universities and today there is a revision going on in those departments because things have been changing so fast. There has always been something of a conflict between the discipline known as “queer theory” and the broader field of GLBT studies in the academic world. “LGBT Studies and Queer Theory” attempts to take queer theorists head on and tries to marry the two disciplines.

The book is a collection of essays in many different fields from leading academics. The goal is to place queer theory into both social and historical contexts while looking at the entire field of academic studies. The book shows how queer theory is linked to major issues in the world today including the rise of capitalism and the study of gender, among others.

This is not a book to be read for the pleasure of reading, rather it is a highly scholarly study which shows the influence of homosexuality on the way we live today. For those who are not familiar with the academic approach to GLBT studies, this book can serve as a Bible—as a guide through academia. The book is conveniently divided into specific discipline areas such as “Bisexuality and Queer Theory”, “Assimilation Politics and Cinematic Hedonics…” and “Sexual Values and Citizenship” to name a few.

The numerous disciplines that are involved in queer theory are all here—history, cinema, communications, religion and ethics, etc. but “LGBT Studies” even goes one step further to include disciplines not usually associated with it. The issue that I was especially glad to see was how to deal with the issues that arrive from working in and teaching queer theory. Is queer theory a viable choice to find a home on the university level? How does one explain his career choice when he opts to work in the area of queer theory? These are two questions I often think of. Much of the success of any type of “queer” curriculum depends upon two things—those teaching and those learning. Both sides must be completely comfortable in who they are. We live in a world that is constantly evolving. I recently took a group of adolescent boys to a hotel out of town for the weekend. Five years ago this would have been unheard of—a gay man driving a group of adolescent boys across state lines and sleeping in the same hotel with them. The world is changing very quickly and everyday there are new challenges and new freedoms. We deserve the right to be studied. We have made some valuable contributions to the world. Would we have done so if we were straight? Is there any merit attached to sexual orientation? These are questions for queer theorists. To have them, they must be trained. To train them, there must be material. “LGBT Studies and Queer Theory” is a step in that direction.

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