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News & Events: Community

SCMS Tribute to Alexander Doty

Wednesday, August 8, 2012   (0 Comments)
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SCMS Tribute to Alexander Doty 

It is with profound sadness that we report the death of Alexander Doty, who passed away on August 5, 2012 after being struck by a motorcycle while on vacation in Bermuda. He was 58 years old.

In 2008 Alex became Professor of Gender Studies and Communication and Culture at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was Chair of the Department of Communication and Culture at the time of his death. His joint membership in both departments allowed Alex to bring his interests in film and media and LGBTQ studies harmoniously together and he very quickly created a vibrant community of students and colleagues devoted to him and his work. As he often noted, he was excited to be affiliated with the university that had supported Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey’s pioneering work in sexuality studies and was especially honored to become a member of the Kinsey Institute’s Board of Trustees once he joined the faculty. He previously taught at the American University in Cairo, The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and at Cornell University (where he held a post-doctoral fellowship in the Society for the Humanities) before working for many years at Lehigh University, where he also served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Chair of the Department of English.

Alex was born in a military hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts, and after moving about in an "Army brat” childhood he later likened to a theatrical road show, his family settled in west Texas, where Alex eventually received his B.A. in English with highest honors from the University of Texas-El Paso. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he wrote a dissertation on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940s films under the supervision of Robert Carringer.

Alex was the author of two influential books, Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture (Minnesota, 1993), and Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon (Routledge, 2000), as well as numerous essays on topics including queer authorship, Hollywood stars, and queer representation in mainstream media. He also edited two special issues of Camera Obscura on divas (2007 and 2008), and co-edited (with Corey K. Creekmur) Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays on Popular Culture (Duke, 1995). He served on the editorial board of many journals, including Camera Obscura, The Quarterly Review of Film and Video, The Velvet Light Trap, and GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies. Among the first generation of "male feminist” and gay film scholars to embrace and elaborate the theoretical implications of "queerness,” in his work and teaching Alex not only embraced alternative challenges to mainstream media from queer artists, but located queerness at the heart of mainstream culture through his dazzlingly original readings of seemingly heteronormative films and television programs.

A longtime member of SCS and SCMS, one of Alex’s most notable contributions to the organization was as a founder and chair or co-chair (1990-1991 and 1998-2000) of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus (now Queer Caucus). In addition to vibrant leadership and advocacy that led to the regular visibility of queer scholarship within SCMS, Alex was an enthusiastic participant in the Queer Caucus mentorship program that paired senior and junior scholars.

Alex leaves behind a vast network of friends, colleagues, and students who have been empowered by his work and inspired by his personal example: he was an exceptionally generous scholar and person, whose research and activism were deeply intertwined. He will also be remembered for his campy (but rarely caustic) wit, his fabulous sense of what he called (after Stella Dallas) "stacks of style,” and his outstanding ability to balance the pleasures of popular culture alongside rigorous, politically engaged analysis.

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