Queer Theology: Reading Gender and Sexuality as Historical Problems (5 ECTS) – SKY doctoral course at the University of Helsinki, 23-24 March 2020.
Professor Martti Nissinen and the University of Helsinki Doctoral Programme in Gender, Culture, and Society (SKY) organizes a course Queer Theology: Reading Gender and Sexuality as Historical Problems. Course teachers are Prof. Ken Stone (Chicago Theological Seminary), Dr. Antu Sorainen (University of Helsinki) and Prof. Martti Nissinen (University of Helsinki).
The course is open for all SKY students, other University of Helsinki PhD students, and for students from other Finnish universities and universities abroad. There is no registration fees but travelling costs cannot be covered. The course welcomes 10-12 student participants.
The PhD course concentrates on the participating PhD students’ ongoing work on gender and sexuality as historical problems and on politics of interpretation. The course encourages the students to explore the processes of queering in their research and to produce queer readings on their research material while they study the past and present of gendered and sexualized beings. The interdisciplinary course welcomes research projects from various fields. For instance, works on queer theory, queer and feminist historiography, LGBTQ+ history, Ancient Near Eastern studies, biblical studies and study of late antique Christianity are welcome as well as more contemporary works in study of religion, feminist and queer theology, literary studies, and law and legal texts. The course teachers are experts in fields ranging from ancient religion and Ancient Near Eastern studies to kinship and gender studies, all sharing research interest in queer interpretations.
The course is carried out as a two-(full-)day seminar during which the course teachers and participants discuss the PhD students’ projects of various stages. The most important asset for student is the attraction to queer studies and the desire to learn more. The aim is to help the PhD students to develop their methodologies and readings and to complete their dissertation projects with the highest international quality. See course structure and requirements below.
Prof. Ken Stone is Professor of Bible, Culture, and Hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Seminary, where he also served as Academic Dean for a decade. He is the author of many articles as well as the books Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies (2017), Practicing Safer Texts: Food, Sex, and Bible in Queer Perspective (2005), and Sex, Honor, and Power in the Deuteronomistic History (1996); editor of Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible (2001); and co-editor with Teresa Hornsby of Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship (2011). He was a founding member of the Society of Biblical Literature’s LGBTQ Hermeneutics Section, and currently serves on the steering committee for its Animal Studies and the Bible Consultation.
Dr. Antu Sorainen, Docent in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki, is the director of the Academy of Finland research project “Contrasting and Re-Imagining Margins of Kinship” (CoreKin, 2016–2020). She studied Cultural Anthropology, Law, Gender Studies, Theology, Criminology and Lesbian Studies. She wrote a book on lesbian trials in rural 1950s Finland, and co-authored an anthology on the conceptual history of Sittlichkeit with Tuija Pulkkinen. Antu held Academy Fellowship with the research project “Wills and Inheritance Practices in Sexually Marginalised Groups” (2014–2019), and now works with a 3–year grant for studying protolesbians and the nationalist sentiment in the 1920s–1930s. She is writing a book on Queering Will-writing and the Inheritance Institution (Palgrave, 2020), and editing a Special Issue on Kinship in Margins (feminists@law, 2020).
Prof. Martti Nissinen is Professor of Old Testament studies at the University of Helsinki, and the director of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence “Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions”. He is an expert of the prophetic phenomenon in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean, and his research interests include also gender issues (love poetry, homoeroticism, masculinity) in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean. His books include Ancient Prophecy (2017), Prophetic Divination (2019); Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East (2nd ed. 2019), Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (1998), References to Prophecy in Neo-Assyrian Sources (1998), and Prophetie, Redaktion und Fortschreibung im Hoseabuch (1991).
Course structure and requirements
Prior to course:
- Submitting a 2-page description of the dissertation project (a project abstract of 300-400 words and the table of contents), and 10-12 pages research paper (part of the dissertation project) by Monday 9 March 2020.
- Reading other PhD students’ pre-delivered materials.
- Familiarizing oneself with the reading list of recommended literature that will be sent to the participants upon the acceptance.
During the course:
- Attending the full two-day workshop on 23-24 March. Attendance involves commenting other students’ papers and discussing one’s own project.
- Attending Prof. Stone’s public lecture ‘History and Theory in Queer Studies’ in SKY Advanced Research Seminar on Monday 23 March, 4-6pm.
Apply with an abstract of max 300 words by Friday 31 January 2020 by sending the abstract via this link. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants will be informed on acceptance by Friday 7 February 2020.
Abstract for Ken Stone's public lecture 'History and Theory in Queer Studies'
Although the phrase ‘queer theory’ may imply the priority of theory over history, early influences on queer studies such as Michel Foucault intentionally blended theoretical analysis with historical analysis. Foucault’s work had an impact not only on queer theorists from philosophical (Judith Butler) and modern literary (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick) backgrounds, but also queer studies scholars trained in more traditionally historical disciplines, such as, in the United States, Classics scholar David Halperin and historian of Christianity Mark Jordan. These and other scholars (including Carolyn Dinshaw, John D’Emilio, George Chauncey, Heather Love, Heather White) have reshaped both queer studies and historical scholarship by bringing history and theory together in a range of ways. This paper engages the relationship between history and theory in queer studies by focusing on recent developments in queer biblical studies. Long before the rise of queer studies, the interplay among history, theory, and literary analysis was a topic for debate in biblical scholarship, producing multiple approaches to the study of a collection of ancient texts that continues to have contemporary influence. The emergence of queer biblical studies thus provides an opportunity to reexamine the relationship between history and theory in relation to a body of literature that appears relatively infrequently within queer studies. After reviewing several examples of queer biblical scholarship that relate history and theory to one another in diverse ways, I reflect on the implications of such research for the roles of history and theory in queer studies more broadly. Rather than prioritizing one normative model for the relationship between history and theory, I suggest that queer biblical studies generates a multiplicity of approaches that, taken together, may “queer” the line between history and theory as academic approaches to the study of ancient literature.