Sexuality Studies hosted approximately 400 attendees at Queer Places, Practices, and Lives: A Symposium in Honor of Samuel Steward held May 18-19, 2012 on the Ohio State University campus. With the co-sponsorship of DISCO (the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective at OSU), the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and over 13 other departments and organizations across and beyond campus*, the Symposium featured roundtables, presentations, and showcases of work from nearly 150 community members, artists, researchers, and students from across the U.S. and internationally.
QPPL was made possible through the efforts of the faculty, graduate students, and staff who comprised the planning committee* but also through funds donated from the estate of Samuel Steward, OSU B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English (1927-34), tattoo artist (under the pseudonym Phil Sparrow), visual artist, gay eroticist (under the pen name Phil Andros), author, and queer icon.
Two exhibitions of queer materials related to Steward and the conference themes, a keynote address by Steward biographer Justin Spring, two plenary sessions featuring major scholars in queer studies, a cadre of featured speakers, and thirty-plus panels engaged a broad spectrum of connections between queerness and different experiences, perspectives, and histories.
The enthusiastic response to the conference indicates that it was a major success. For example, Professor Scott Herring (Indiana University) called it “easily one of the best symposia I have ever attended… It generated discussion and good will, and it did justice to Sam Steward’s legacy for queers across gender, race, class, and region. I was honored to be part of it.” In the words of Professor Eithne Luibhéid (University of Arizona), “the sessions were so useful that I found myself scribbling notes about how to revise my book, create a new syllabus, and much more, as I listened. I learned a lot and loved the atmosphere, which invited conversation and interaction (and fun, too!).”
Participants representing numerous institutions and several countries brought an array of contributions to questions about the intersections and complications of sexuality, gender, race, class, nationality, popular culture, politics, history, literature, geography, and art in a way that Professor Shane Vogel (Indiana University) called “Amazing. It was one of the most intellectually bracing and best run conferences I’ve ever been to, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have been involved with it.”
"The Queer Places, Practices, and Lives conference left a lasting impression on me," wrote Niharika Banerjea (University of Southern Indiana); "it was one of those very few spaces that seemed to generate a non-hierarchical energy flow, in addition to the important discussions and warm friendships." mónica enriquez-enriquez (independent filmmaker, Escrito, Un/Binding Desires) cited the event as "fostering such great collaborative, inclusive and welcoming academic space," adding "We need more of those! Also, I felt incredibly blessed to be able to share my art practice...."
Nayan Shah (University of Southern California) spoke of the event as a "generative experience" for "all of us in the various locations who propagate, conjugate and incite queer studies, theories, practices, and places." Or, in the summation of Tim Dean (University at Buffalo (SUNY)):
The success of "Queer Places, Practices, Lives" will have really put Ohio State on the map for queer studies---which is no small feat. Pulling off a conference of that scale is a huge achievement. …More than a beautifully organized conference, more even than an intellectual feast, you managed to create a convivial atmosphere in which participants were their best selves. I know that I was not alone in noting and appreciating that aspect of the weekend in Columbus.
Primary funding for this conference was provided by the Samuel Steward/Eric Walborn Endowment Fund, the College of Arts and Sciences, and a Research and Creative Activities Grant awarded by the Division of Arts and Humanities. Co-sponsors included:
Arts and Humanities Diversity Committee, Asian American Studies Program, Department of Comparative Studies, Department of English, Department of Geography, Department of History, Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Diversity and Identity Studies Collective at OSU (DISCO), Diversity and Identity Studies Collective at OSU (DISCO) Graduate Caucus, Evolved Body Art, Humanities Institute, Multicultural Center, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Ohio State University GLBT Alumni Society, School of Teaching and Learning, Sexuality Studies Program, Sexuality Studies Undergraduate Committee, and The Women's Place. Thanks, too, to Chris Hayes and Outlook Media for all the great publicity and support!
**QPPL Planning Committee
(Left to right): Tommy Davis (English), Meredith Lee (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Debra Moddelmog (English and Sexuality Studies), Nikki Engel (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Mary Thomas (Geography and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Shannon Winnubst (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Ally Day (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Andrea Breau (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Debanuj Dasgupta (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Meg Lemay (English), Jian Chen (English), Joe Ponce (English and Sexuality Studies).
Not pictured: Mollie Blackburn (Teaching and Learning, and Sexuality Studies), Chris Lewis (English), Corinne Martin (English), Jim Sanders (Art Education), Blake Wilder (English), and DISCO GAAs Justin Acome (web site and event planning) and Chid Sekar (designer)