Public Lectures Offered for Dream Course ‘Bodies that (Don’t) Matter

Mariana Ortega, a Latina American feminism scholar and professor of philosophy at John Carroll University, will kick off a series of WGS Presidential Dream Course lectures, speaking at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, in Gould Hall Room 155 on OU’s Norman campus.

Her free, public lecture is titled “Bodies of Color, Bodies of Sorrow: Resistant Mourning, Becoming-With and Coalitional Politics.” Ortega’s research focuses on questions of self and society; the question of identity; and visual representations of race, gender and sexuality. The founder and director of the Latina Feminism Roundtable, Ortega is the co-editor of the anthology “Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader” and is author of the monograph “In Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity and Self.”

Her lecture is the first of four presented in conjunction with the Presidential Dream Course “Bodies That (Don’t) Matter,” being co-taught this fall by Dr. Lupe Davidson, director of the OU Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and Dr. Kirsten T. Edwards, OU assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. The course looks at opposing positions on the deaths of Black, Brown, cis and trans bodies and contextualizes those positions along with the recent rise in student-of-color activism on campuses nationwide in terms of “mattering.”

“For some, the names Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride signify disturbances in our national psyche,” Davidson said. “They are outliers and disruptions. Their deaths do not represent what is fundamentally a fair justice system. To others, these names signify a society founded on anti-black racism, where Trayvon, Michael, Eric and Renisha paid the ultimate price for their blackness, their gayness, their femaleness – death.”

The course will address such critical questions as, “What does it mean to matter?” “How can we determine who matters and who doesn’t?” “Are there some bodies that matter more than others?” and “What are the dangers associated with not mattering?”

“Our goal is to place these deaths within a historical and theoretical framework,” Davidson said, giving students the framework to evaluate the deaths of Black, Brown, cis and trans people through a sociocultural lens and to critique the way bodies are treated and mistreated within society.

Other public lectures in series are “Nigger is Not My Name” presented by Emory University Professor George Yancy, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4 and “Intersectionality, Black Lives Matter and Participatory Democracy,” featuring University of Maryland Professor Patricia Hill Collins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25. The series will culminate with a panel discussion with local activists and scholars at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, titled “#BlackLivesMatter, Material Bodies and Racial Justice.” The final three events will be held in the Excellence & Ethics in Journalism Foundation Auditorium of Gaylord Hall.

The lecture series is co-presented by OU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Adult and Higher Education. For more information and accommodations on the basis of disability, call (405) 325-5787.