University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

English Professor Val Rohy to Deliver Spring 2013 Dean's Lecture

"Gay Identity and the Act of Reading in The Well of Loneliness"

Date: Tuesday, March 12
Time: 5:00 pm
Location: Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building
Information: 656-0756

This lecture examines the retroactive formation of gay identity through the act of reading in a famous lesbian novel of the 1920s, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness.  Appealing to sexologial theory, Hall argues that homosexuals are naturally and immutably different--as we say now, "born this way"--yet the novel's scene of reading opposes that claim, showing something like the queer influence of which the text itself would be accused.  In doing so, it leads us to question theories of biological determinism, reframe paranoid notions of queer increase, and consider new forms of gay identity. 

Professor Rohy is the author of Impossible Women: Lesbian Figures and American Literature (Cornell, 2000) and Anachronism and Its Others: Sexuality, Race, Temporality (SUNY, 2009), and the co-editor (with Elizabeth Ammons) of American Local Color Writing, 1880-1920 (Penguin, 1998).  She has published essays on sexuality, race, and American literature in such journals as GLQ, Genders, and Modern Fiction Studies.  In 2006 she won UVM's Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award.  

A recording of the lecture will be made available at the online media blog and eventually at the College of Arts and Sciences website.