Downtown Lecture Series, now in 10th year, will focus on sexualities

By Lori Harwood, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Downtown lecture series logo

This year’s Downtown Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, focuses on the theme of sexualities, exploring the complex ways in which gender and sexuality shape our lives, from the intimate to the institutional.

Speakers in this year’s series will explore the cultural implications of drag performance, 19th-century sex scandals, reproductive justice, and how gender and sexuality are or are not taught in schools. The talks will take place on November 12, 19, 26 and 1 at 6 p.m. at the Fox Tucson Theater, 17 W. Congress St.

The series is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s Stonewall Fund.

Personal participants can register online for free tickets. For those unable to attend, the lectures will also be recorded, with livestream links available on the lecture series website.

Harris Kornstein

Harris Kornstein

Launched in 2013, the Downtown Lecture Series was created to bring the university and Tucson communities together in downtown Tucson to learn about issues related to people’s daily lives. Over the years, faculty at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences—along with university and community peers—have lectured on happiness, food, immortality, privacy, truth and trust in the global scene, music, animals, girl power, and compassion.

“As the new Dean of SBS, I am excited to be a part of the 10th Anniversary Downtown Lecture Series. Our scholars will draw on their research to share new insights and add nuance to complex and timely issues related to gender and sexuality. ” said Lori Poloni Staudinger, who joined the university in July as dean of the college. “I’m also pleased that this year’s series shares the expertise of not only the amazing SBS faculty, but also brilliant scholars from the Colleges of Humanities and Education.”

Erika Perez

Erika Perez

Eric PlemonsAssociate Professor in the School of Anthropology, studies the policy and practice of transgender medicine and is curator of this year’s series.

“It was exciting to create this series around such a huge subject that touches our lives in so many different ways,” said Plemons. “My approach to the show was to think broadly about sexuality. We often think of sexuality as an identity-based word or about our intimacy. But certainly when we think about educational politics or health care or marriage, these are all places where our sexuality as individuals and as a group gets really messy and fuzzy.”

Plemons added, “I often say that as an anthropologist, you always want to study a controversy because that’s where you know something is really important to people.”

Here’s the full lineup of the series.

Oct 12: 21st Century Drag: Queer Play from Social Media to Story Hour

Louise Marie Roth

Louise Marie Roth

Harris Kornstein, Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities, will discuss research on two newer frontiers of drag: digital identity performances via social media and children’s story hours. Drawing on her own performance practice, Kornstein will focus on how drag disrupts binaries of truth and fiction, visibility and privacy, and pleasure and politics.

Oct. 19: Sex, scandal and reputation in early California

Erika PerezAssociate Professor at the Department of History, her ongoing research into sex scandals and sex crimes in 1919 California lacks patriarchal protections.

Carol Brochin

Carol Brochin

26 Oct: Personality under Patriarchy: Reproductive Justice in Arizona and Beyond

Louise Marie Roth, a professor in the School of Sociology, will examine legal cases and birth trends that illustrate the implications of fetus-centered and woman-centered approaches to pregnancy for evidence-based care during pregnancy, miscarriage and childbirth. She will argue that an emphasis on fetal personality has the effect of negating personality for fertile women.

Nov 1: The Power of Stories: Talking about Gender and Sexuality in School

Carol Brochin, Associate Professor at the College of Education, will discuss the power of stories to transform classrooms and communities. Drawing on theory and research, Brochin argues that we need schools that are not only inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, but are places of critical transformation where all can enjoy learning from each other and about their communities.