Professor Claire Potter “Re-Thinking Feminism’s Sex Wars: Theorizing Male Violence in the Age of Reagan”

Radical feminist struggles over sexuality generated what have come to be seen as the “feminist sex wars”? of the 1970s and 1980s.  Professor Claire Potter examines the theoretical, ethical and historical dimensions of these wars, asking in particular how the sex wars and the political history of the Reagan era might be made relevant to, and illuminate, each other. Professor Potter argues that critical questions about the nature of violence in the late Cold War United States, the legacy of the Vietnam War, the emergence or capture of radical anti- war activists like Jane Alpert, and the disappearance of boundaries between the military and society — are also critical concerns for a history of radical feminism. Her lecture focuses on activists whose paths to feminism came through the peace and civil rights movements, and not through women’s liberation.

Claire Potter is Professor of History and the American Studies Program at Wesleyan University.  She is author of War on Crime: Bandits, G-Men and the Politics of Mass Culture, and is completing a history of the sex wars entitled Sexual Revolutions; Feminism, the Reagan Revolution and the Politics of Pornography, 1968-1990.  Her article on “Queer Hoover” was awarded the Audre Lord Prize for best article in 2007-2008.  Professor Potter received her BA in English From Yale and an MA and PhD in History from New York University.

Date:    May 3
Time:    8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Place:    The Russell House

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