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Twentieth Annual Cultural Studies Conference

The Queer Child

October 23-24, 2015

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Why does the child matter now? And how does that mattering differ across transnational, class, and racial contexts? These are the key questions for Child Matters, which has its genesis in the coincident production of special issues from two leading cultural studies journals—Women’s Studies Quarterly and Gay and Lesbian Quarterly (co-edited by conference organizer Rebekah Sheldon). Building on and diverging from Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004), and Kathryn Bond Stockton’s The Queer Child: Or, Growing Sideways in the Twentieth-Century (2009), these two special issues mark the emergence of the child as a topic of interest beyond the field of childhood studies.

The contemporary moment is a particularly rich and urgent point from which to consider the child. Over the two days of the conference, we will asks what the child can tell us about the unexpected future in which we find ourselves. Combining the longstanding focus of cultural analysis on subjectivity with emergent transdisciplinary paradigms we will attend to questions that include: Over what narrative sequence does the child preside after the announcement of the Anthropocene? In this age of somatechnics, what becomes of “proper” childhood development? How does homonationalism contour the presumed heteronormativity of reproductive futurism? In what racialized and securitized circuits of labor and death does the child’s body appreciate as valuable or expendable life?

Coming from a variety of perspectives, participants at this conference will have the opportunity to build an account of the child’s continued centrality to the new techniques of power in the 21st-century and the queer, sideways deformations the child always also enacts.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Paul Amar (Associate Professor, Global and International Studies, UC Santa Barbara)
  • Clifford J. Rosky (Professor, College of Law, University of Utah)
  • Julian Gill Peterson (Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Mary Zaborskis (Graduate Student, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Anna Mae Duane (Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Connecticut)
  • Sarah Chinn (Associate Professor, Department of English, CUNY Graduate Center)
  • Kathryn Bond Stockton (Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of Utah)


Conference Schedule

To Be Announced