Stephen Dillon, assistant 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 currently working on a book manuscript, Fugitive Life: Race, Sexuality, and the Rise of the Neoliberal-Carceral State and an essay on Michel Foucault’s unpublished work with the “Prison Information Group.”
This course explores the history and politics of gender and sexuality in relation to the racial politics of prisons and the police. By engaging recent work in queer studies, feminist studies, transgender studies, and critical prison studies, we will consider how prisons and police have shaped the making and remaking of race, gender, and sexuality from slavery and conquest to the contemporary period. We will examine how police and prisons have regulated the body, identity, and populations, and how larger social, political, and cultural changes connect to these processes. While we will focus on the prison itself, we will also think of policing in a more expansive way by analyzing the racialized regulation of gender and sexuality on the plantation, in the colony, at the border, in the welfare office, and in the hospital, among other spaces, historical periods, and places.
Introduction to Queer Studies explores the emergence and development of the field of queer studies since the 1990s. In order to do so, the course examines the relationship between queer studies and fields like postcolonial studies, gay and lesbian studies, transgender studies, disability studies, and critical race studies. Students will come away with a broad understanding of the field, particularly foundational debates, key words, theories, and concepts. As part of their research, students will explore alternative genealogies of queer studies that exceed the academy. Some questions that guide the course include: How have art, film, activism, and literature influenced the field? What people and events are critical to queer studies that may be ignored or forgotten? Students will have a broad understanding of the field's contours, while they will also work to reimagine the field and its history.
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 and sexuality studies that explores emotion and affect as central to 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; history; and medicine.
In his 1983 essay "Capitalism and Gay Identity," John D'Emilio argued that homosexuality was made possible by the rise of capitalism. Since then, queer scholars have worked to explore more fully the relationship between economics and sexuality. This course will explore debates in queer studies about Marxism; race and class; capital and immigration; neoliberalism and gay rights; labor and queer identity; anti-capitalism and trans politics; among others. We will begin reading selections from Marx's Capital: Vol. 1 to understand the foundation of the study of capitalism, and then we will explore the ways that queer scholars, artists, and activists have modified, challenged, and rewritten Marxist theories, or invented entirely new conceptions of the economic.
This course takes a transnational approach to the study of race and sexuality by exploring the centrality of the modern nation-state to our conceptions of identity, subjectivity, race, sexuality, and gender. To that end, the course focuses on transnational and postcolonial work in queer studies, feminist studies, and the history of sexuality. Because the course takes a global approach to the study of race and sexuality, students will work to make connections across time and space in class discussions, research projects, and the course blog. Topics will include: Migration and immigration; slavery; colonialism and imperialism; science and biology; citizenship and belonging.
Assistant Professor of Queer Studies
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall 215
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002