Stephen Dillon

Associate Professor of Queer Studies
Steve Dillon
Contact Stephen

Mail Code SS
Stephen Dillon
Franklin Patterson Hall 215
413.549.4600

Stephen Dillon, associate professor of queer studies, holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in American Studies with a minor in critical feminist and sexuality studies from the University of Minnesota.

His scholarly interests include queer studies, race and white supremacy, critical prison studies, transgender studies, American studies, critical theory, and feminist studies. His research focuses on the racial, gender, and sexual politics of the late twentieth-century U.S. prison system. In particular, he is interested in the forms of knowledge produced by post-1960s prisoners and activists as they confronted a new state form he calls the “neoliberal-carceral state.”

His publications include “‘The Only Freedom I Can See’: Imprisoned Queer Writing and the Politics of the Unimaginable,” published in the edited collection Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison-Industrial Complex; “Possessed by Death: The Neoliberal-Carceral State, Black Feminism, and the Afterlife of Slavery,” published in a special issue of Radical History Review on “Genealogies of Neoliberalism”; and “‘It's Here, It's That Time’: Race, Queer Futurity, and the Temporality of Violence in Born in Flames,” published in Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. He is author of the book Fugitive Life: Race, Sexuality, and the Rise of the Neoliberal-Carceral State (Duke University Press) and an essay on Michel Foucault’s unpublished work with the “Prison Information Group.”

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Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • This course examines how scholars in feminist, queer, and transgender studies theorize the politics of race, racialization, and white supremacy. Focusing primarily on the racial state in the United States, we will examine the ways race, gender, and sexuality emerged out of colonization, enslavement, incarceration, immigration, science, and the law. Students are expected to have some familiarity with theories and histories of race, gender, and sexuality. Students should also be prepared to engage a variety of written texts ranging from poetry and memoir to dense, difficult theoretical essays. Keywords: feminism, transgender, racism, culture, Queer

  • In the last decade, queer scholars have turned away from the study of identity and textuality to consider the role of affect and emotion in the production, circulation, and regulation of sexuality, race, and gender. This course examines a new body of work in queer studies, feminist studies, and sexuality studies that explores emotion and affect as central to the operation of social, political, and economic power. Topics will include mental illness, hormones, happiness, sex, trauma, labor, identity, and social movements, among others. Students will work to consider how emotions and affect are connected to larger systems of power like capitalism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, terrorism and war, the prison, the media, and medicine. Queer, Feminism, Race, Affect,

  • This course examines historical and theoretical scholarship on the development and operation of racial capitalism. Focusing on the United States, the course explores research areas such as slavery, settler-colonialism, immigration and migration, the war on terror, economics, and the law. At the same time, we will also explore the relationship between gender, sexuality, and racial capitalism examining feminist, queer, and trans understandings of the foundational relationship between capitalism and race. Keywords: Black, Native, Feminism, Marxism

  • This course examines the many visions and theories of freedom created by artists and activists within the black radical tradition. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and moving to the present moment, we will investigate the activisms and art central to creating what Angela Davis and W.E.B. Du Bois call, "abolition democracy." We will investigate the many meanings of freedom across a variety of forms including historical scholarship, black feminist theory, manifestos, music, painting, poetry, sculpture, film, transgender critique, queer activisms, and photography. Topics will include slavery, incarceration, civil rights and black power, black lives matter, transnationalism, among others. Keywords: feminism, racism, culture, resistance

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