LGBT Studies sets ‘Third Thursday’ topics

Will & Grace“Who’s the Fool? Gay and Lesbian Representation in ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘Rosanne’ ” will kick off this spring’s Third Thursday Speaker Series, sponsored by the LGBT Studies Program.

Each academic year, the LGBT Studies Program sponsors a series of brown-bag lunch presentations featuring LGBT research or scholarship by NIU faculty members or graduate students.

All events begin at noon in the Blackhawk Annex of Holmes Student Center. For more information, call (815) 753-1038 or email kmyers@niu.edu.

Feb. 20

  • “Who’s the Fool? Gay and Lesbian Representation in ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘Rosanne’ ”
  • Jimmie Manning, assistant professor of communication and LGBT Studies executive committee chair

This presentation makes an argument about comedic targets, or the “butt of the joke,” as it plays out in two enduring cultural texts: the television programs “Roseanne” and “Will & Grace.” Using Duncan’s comedic notion of the fool and situating sitcom laugh tracks as a rhetorical device, Manning will analyze a similar storyline from each program to demonstrate that,when it comes to GLB representation, who we laugh at is important. Given that “Roseanne” was often decried for using homosexuality as a shock gimmick and “Will & Grace” is frequently praised as one of the great cultural tools for changing hearts and minds about same-sex relationships and queer identities, the results of this scholarly analysis are particularly interesting.

March 20

  • “Queering a Human Rights Issue: LGBT on a Global Scale”
  • Trude Jacobsen, associate professor of history and assistant director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies

In some countries, homosexuality is not only illegal but considered an offense punishable by death. Jacobsen will offer an enlightening presentation that will consider the state of LGBT rights across the globe.

April 17

Coming out has been a powerful tool to create social change. Many attribute the rapid rate in the shift for marriage equality to the viability of Lesbian Gay Bisexual (LGB) folks on TV and in our families. The queer movement was built around the power of coming out; for this reason, we rarely examine the coming out narrative for fear of offending. When we hear the national narrative on coming out, rarely do we see the experiences of trans* and asexual folks represented. Often, these experiences are looked over. Because of this, the coming out process experienced by trans* and asexual people are often neglected or more problematically belittled.

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