‘Speaking of Sex’ at Cornell University Library

Speaking of Sex, Feb. 14 to Oct. 11, 2014 - Hirshland Exhibit Gallery, Carl A. Kroch Library

ITHACA, N.Y. (March 6, 2014) – Cornell will soon be hosting some of the biggest names in sex.

Three guest speakers will participate in the opening event for “Speaking of Sex,” a new exhibition at Cornell University Library, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the renowned Human Sexuality Collection.

Saving Sex” features a conversation with:

  • Urvashi Vaid, activist, author of “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics” and former director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force;
  • Susie Bright, the pioneering feminist sex writer and founding editor of lesbian sex magazine “On Our Backs”; and
  • David France, journalist, author and director/producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, “How to Survive a Plague” (2012).

Dagmawi Woubshet, associate professor of English at Cornell, will moderate the panel about saving the history of sexuality. It will be held Tuesday, March 18, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Goldwin Smith Hall’s Lewis Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library, level 2B, at 6 p.m. The exhibition will be on view in the Hirshland Gallery during the reception, and people who have donated items to the archives will be there.

The event is co-sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center, LGBT Studies, and the Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Cornell.

Susie Bright will return on Wednesday, March 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to present “How to Read a Dirty Movie” in the Uris Hall Auditorium. That event is co-sponsored by the University Lectures and the Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program. The presentation will be recorded and later added to Bright’s own archives, which she donated to Cornell in 2013.

The Library’s exhibition will remain in Kroch Library until National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. It features rare books, photographs, original artwork, erotica and ephemera related to sexuality — while asking how these items can be used to interpret sex now and in the future.

“Archiving sex is vital to our society, and this exhibition brings a wide swath of this history into view,” said Brenda Marston, curator of the Human Sexuality Collection. “Without us making a real effort, our view of the past could keep settling on familiar and comfortable scenes — but at Cornell, it’s our job to make sure that we wrest the camera away from the center and capture the stories we don’t always see, so that we’re really preserving the diversity of our culture.”

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