Downtown Lecture Series, now in 10th year, will focus on sexualities
The series, hosted by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, kicks off Oct. 12 at the Fox Tucson Theatre.

By Lori Harwood, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Oct. 5, 2022

This year's Downtown Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, will focus on the theme "sexualities," exploring the complex ways that gender and sexuality shape our lives, from the intimate to the institutional.

Speakers for this year's series will address the cultural impacts of drag performance, 19th-century sex scandals, reproductive justice and how gender and sexuality are taught, or not taught, in schools. The talks will be held on Oct. 12, 19, 26 and Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

The series is sponsored by the Stonewall Fund at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

In-person attendees can register online for free tickets. The talks will also be recorded for those who can't attend, with livestream links available on the lecture series website.

Harris Kornstein_0.jpg

Harris Kornstein
Harris Kornstein

Launched in 2013, the Downtown Lecture Series was created to bring the university and Tucson communities together in downtown Tucson to learn about topics that relate to people's everyday lives. Over the years, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty – along with university and community colleagues – have presented on happiness, food, immortality, privacy, truth and trust in the global scene, music, animals, woman power, and compassion.

"As the new dean of SBS, I am excited to be a part of the 10th anniversary of the Downtown Lecture Series. Our scholars will draw on their research to share fresh insights and add nuance to complex and timely topics involving gender and sexuality," said Lori Poloni-Staudinger, who joined the university as dean of the college in July. "I am also pleased that this year's series shares the expertise of not just amazing SBS faculty but also brilliant scholars from the Colleges of Humanities and Education."

Erika Perez_1.jpg

Erika Pérez
Erika Pérez

Eric Plemons, associate professor in the School of Anthropology, studies the politics and practice of transgender medicine and is the curator of this year's series.

"It's been exciting to conceptualize this series on such a huge topic that touches our lives in so many different ways," Plemons said. "My approach to the series was to think broadly about sexualities. We often imagine sexuality as an identity-based word or about our intimacies. But certainly when we think about educational policy or health care or marriage, these are all places where our sexuality as individuals and as a group gets really messy and blurry."

Plemons added, "I often say as an anthropologist, you always want to study a controversy, because that's where you know that something really matters to people."

Here is the full series lineup.

Oct. 12: 21st Century Drag: Queer Play from Social Media to Story Hour


Louise Marie Roth
Louise Marie Roth

Harris Kornstein, assistant professor in the College of Humanities, will discuss research into two of drag's more recent frontiers: digital performances of identity via social media, and children's story hours. Drawing on their own performance practice, Kornstein will focus on the ways drag disrupts binaries of truth and fiction, visibility and privacy, and pleasure and politics.  

Oct. 19: Sex, Scandal, and Reputation in Early California

Erika Pérez, associate professor in the Department of History, will discuss her ongoing research on sex scandals and sex crimes in 19th-century California, focusing on a few specific legal cases and newspaper accounts to illustrate popular debates and societal anxiety about female sexuality, courtship and the absence of patriarchal protection.

Carol Brochin_0.jpg

Carol Brochin
Carol Brochin

Oct. 26: Personhood Under Patriarchy: Reproductive Justice in Arizona and Beyond

Louise Marie Roth, professor in the School of Sociology, will explore legal cases and birth trends that illustrate the implications of fetus-centered and woman-centered approaches to pregnancy for evidence-based care during pregnancy, miscarriage and birth. She will argue that an emphasis on fetal personhood has the effect of negating personhood for fertile women.

Nov. 1: The Power of Stories: Talking about Gender and Sexuality in Schools

Carol Brochin, associate professor in the College of Education, will discuss the power of stories in transforming classrooms and communities. Drawing from theory and research, Brochin argues that we need schools that are not just inclusive for LGBTQ+ students but are sites of critical transformation where everyone can experience joy in learning about each other and their communities.


Resources for the media

Media contact(s)

Lori Harwood

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences