Dear members of the Queer Caucus,
It is with pleasure that the board opens a two week period of voting for our incoming Secretary. We have three candidates this year: Benjamin Aslinger, Jennifer Moorman, and T.J. West. Please find their platform statements and short bios below. In the next two weeks, please find time to read their statements to cast your vote via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please vote for only *one* candidate by 5pm EST on August 27, 2015. Be sure to cast your vote by email to the queer caucus at email@example.com by Thursday August 27, 2015 at 5pm EST. Happy voting!
Since my first SCMS in Vancouver in 2006, SCMS has experienced dramatic growth. At the most recent conference in Montreal, our inaugural executive director noted a membership increase of 30% and a 20% increase in panels over the past five years. We face the challenge of how to create more spaces for cross-disciplinary and “generational” encounters that have historically made SCMS a fecund site for intellectual production. As a member of the Queer Caucus team, I would explore ways to create more sites and spaces that facilitate more formal and informal encounters. One idea I would like to pursue is the launch of a doctoral colloquium. Like models already exist in other professional organizations such as the Association for Internet Researchers and some divisions of the International Communication Association. The launch of such a program at the conference or in conjunction with the conference might be a way to further integrate new researchers into communities that have been invaluable in my own intellectual and professional development.
Graduate students face a job market that inspires dread, as “adjunctification” and the precarity of academic labor become increasingly dominant. Faculty face shrinking budgets that impede our ability to create and sustain academic linkages and intellectual communities, and post-tenure depression emerges as a silently suffered phenomenon. Across rank and career status, we need to have more discussions about what it’s like to do queer studies work and work queerly within our institutional environments, especially since many of us may bear primary (or often exclusive) responsibility for teaching sexuality studies in our respective institutions that may have miles to go towards approaching methods ands modes of inclusion. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work with the Queer Caucus mentorship program in the past two years, which has highlighted, for me, the need for more connectivity.
I look forward to playing a bigger part in the valuable work the Queer Caucus does in creating, cementing, and concretizing community.
Ben Aslinger is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Media Studies at Bentley University. His research focuses on the transnational travels of digital media and queer cultural studies. He is the co-editor of Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place (Palgrave, 2013) and Locating Emerging Media (Routledge, forthcoming). His research has appeared in The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender, How to Watch Television: Media Criticism in Practice, Queer Love in Film and Television, A Companion to New Media Dynamics, The Mobile Media Reader, and LGBT Identity and Online New Media. He served as interim associate director of the Valente Center for Arts and Sciences, Bentley’s liberal arts and humanities center, in the 2013-14 academic year, and is currently on The Velvet Light Trap’s editorial advisory board. His current book project, Queer Deliberation, moves across film, television, and digital media platforms to explore how mediated debates about the nature and future of queerness serve a deliberative function as well as how texts and producers wrestle with how to frame and narrativize queer dilemmas.
As an active member of the Queer Caucus since 2007, I have enriched my network of friends, colleagues, and mentors, and benefitted from caucus sponsorship of several of my SCMS panels. This year, I would like to give back by serving the caucus as secretary and eventually co-chair. I am well prepared to take on this position, having gained relevant experience – managing listservs, facilitating communication between faculty and graduate students, recording and distributing the minutes from meetings, and organizing social events – at UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women, where I coordinated a working group and two conferences on gender and sexuality.
As secretary, I would record precise, detailed minutes at the annual caucus meeting, facilitate effective communication between the board and general membership, and manage the Alexander Doty Queer Caucus Mentorship Program. In 2008, I had the pleasure of co-chairing a Queer Caucus-sponsored panel with Alex Doty as respondent. I was moved and inspired by his eagerness to encourage and engage meaningfully with graduate students’ work on the panel and throughout his career. In my own life, I am grateful for the support of queer and academic (and queer academic) communities, which buoyed me through my time as a graduate student. Now, with waning support for the humanities and the tenure track in decline, I believe the alternative models of academic kinship exemplified by the mentorship program are more crucial than ever. As a newly minted Ph.D., adjuncting while navigating the academic job market, I feel I’m uniquely qualified to arrange successful mentorship pairings that can address the needs of graduate students, postdocs, and junior and contingent faculty. I would be particularly interested in finding ways to address the interests of the latter group – recent Ph.D.s and adjuncts seeking tenure-track positions – who comprise roughly 75% of the academic workforce and yet find themselves in a liminal, vulnerable position.
As co-chair, I eventually hope not only to continue expanding the Queer Caucus’ presence at the annual SCMS conference through sponsoring panels and formal networking sessions and arranging more informal social opportunities, but also to maintain the energy and momentum of the conference by initiating local meet-ups (such as Queer Caucus bar nights) and online forums throughout the year.
Having received my PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA in 2014, I am working as a full-time Lecturer at California State University, Long Beach, and completing a book manuscript based on my dissertation research for review for Duke University Press. Tentatively titled Women on Top: Female Filmmakers in Pornographic Production Cultures, this work combines production studies methodologies with textual analysis to assess the gender and representational politics of the adult video industry, queer porn, (s)experimental film, and other pornographic production cultures, with a focus on women’s authorship. I have presented my work many times at SCMS and other conferences. My publications include three articles on representations of queer women in television series and one on LGBTQ online pornography, and this summer I am revising and resubmitting adaptations of my dissertation research for Camera Obscura and Signs. My co-authored video essay on the women’s prison film appears in the first fully peer-reviewed issue of [in]Transition, and I am currently building off of that research to contextualize the representation of queer and trans women of color in an article about Orange Is the New Black.
Thomas Jefferson (T.J.) West III
If elected to the position of secretary, I would build upon the work already done to enhance the Queer Caucus’s presence within SCMS as a whole. In addition to continuing the sponsorship of panels, I would also like to foster closer ties to the other caucuses and SIGs. There is clearly a desire on the part of these other groups to develop meaningful relationships in order to, for example, co-coordinate events at future conferences.
I would also like to continue developing the Queer Caucus’s online presence, in order to ensure that our important work continues beyond the bounds of the annual conference. A stronger web presence—including, for example, sustaining our Twitter account throughout the year and creating a committed blog—would not only serve as a site for the archiving of resources, but would also provide another outlet for networking (by providing, for example, CFPs and showcasing recent work by members of the caucus and other queer scholars). Furthermore, by joining this effort to a larger, collaborate website from the other caucuses and SIGs, we could not only share the labor associated with maintaining this online presence, but also cement strong relationships among the various groups.
As both secretary and co-chair, I would also like to work with the graduate student representative to continue growing graduate student involvement with the caucus and its activities. As part of that effort, I would also like to continue building the Alexander Doty Mentorship Program, which has already become an invaluable part of the Queer Caucus’s work as part of the larger SCMS community. Ideally, I would like to ensure that graduate students—particularly those attending the conference for the first time—see the Queer Caucus as a friendly and welcoming group with whom they can interact both during the conference and afterward.
At Syracuse University, I helped found a mentorship program that paired advanced English graduate students with incoming students based on research interests, and I have helped to design and run a “Safe Space” training session for new TAs during the annual orientation for three years (including 2015). Furthermore, along with several of my colleagues I have also helped found a graduate student blog. I believe these efforts have prepared me to serve as secretary, and later co-chair, of the Queer Caucus.
Thank you for considering my candidacy.
I am a Ph.D. candidate in English at Syracuse University, where I also received my M.A. in English with a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Women’s and Gender Studies. My dissertation, tentatively titled “History’s Perilous Pleasures: Experiencing Antiquity in Postwar Hollywood Cinema” explores the ways in which postwar epic films construct a complex interplay between antiquity and modernity, seeking to provide both a visceral experience and a distanced knowledge of the ancient world and of history more generally. I have presented my work at both SCMS and the annual Film and History Conference. My piece entitled “Brothers in Arms: Spartacus, Historical Television, and the Celebration of Queer Masculinity” is forthcoming in a volume tentatively titled Queer TV in the 21st Century and another piece, entitled “Turning Gold Into Lead: Sexual Pathology and the Demythologizing of Augustus in HBO’s Rome (2005-2007)” is forthcoming in an edited volume tentatively titled The Golden Ages of Classical Antiquity on Screen. I also maintain a blog entitled Queerly Different and regularly contribute to Antenna and in media res. I also maintain research interests in feminist, gender, and queer theory more generally, masculinity studies, and The Golden Girls. I teach introductory courses in film, popular culture, race, fiction, and gender.