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Applications for Winter 2020 SPAN Reading Group are now OPEN!
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Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN)
Reading Group
Winter Quarter 2020

We invite faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students to participate in a small, focused reading group (15 to 18 people) that will meet during Winter Quarter 2020. The topic for this year is “Sexuality Beyond the Binary.”

We will meet five times during the quarter to discuss short texts (for example, three or four articles or book chapters per meeting) that explore the reading group’s theme. Meetings will be on the following Thursdays from 5:00-6:30 p.m.: January 9, January 23, February 6, February 20, and March 5. It is expected that participants will attend at least four of the five meetings, which will be held on the Evanston campus.

While the main reward for participation is good company and intellectually engaged discussion, Northwestern participants who attend regularly will receive a research stipend of $750 at the end of the quarter.

Reading group description: Sexuality scholarship has generally privileged binary sexualities (e.g., gay, lesbian, heterosexual) over non-binary sexualities (e.g., bisexual, pansexual, queer, fluid). This has contributed to the erasure and invisibility of non-binary sexualities, not only in scholarship but also at the broader societal level. The goal of this reading group is to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue on non-binary sexualities, including their manifestations at the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, and class, and the ways in which they are influenced by social, cultural, and political forces. To that end, we will interrogate diverse conceptualizations and theories of sexual orientation, examine the roles of sociopolitical systems (e.g., heteronormativity, homonormativity, heterosexism, monosexism, misogyny, patriarchy) in the creation and maintenance of the sexual orientation binary, and discuss ways to challenge the erasure and invisibility of non-binary sexualities.

Christina Dyar and Brian Feinstein (Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing) will facilitate the sessions. A tentative list of readings has been prepared by the facilitators, but applicants are encouraged to suggest readings as well. Suggestions can be submitted at the time of application as well as throughout the duration of the reading group. Our goal is to select readings that reflect multiple disciplinary approaches to understanding non-binary sexualities.

Tentative readings (organized by session):

Session 1: Theorizing bisexuality and other non-binary sexualities
Angelides, S. (2006). Historicizing (bi)sexuality. Journal of Homosexuality, 52, 125-158.

Better, A., & Simula, B. L. (2015). How and for whom does gender matter? Rethinking the concept of sexual orientation. Sexualities, 18, 665-680.

Gurevich, M., Bailey, H., & Bower, J. (2009). Querying theory and politics: The epistemic (dis)location of bisexuality within queer theory. Journal of Bisexuality, 9, 235-257.

Rust, P. C. R. (2000). Bisexuality: A contemporary paradox for women. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 205-221.

Wilde, J. (2014). Dimensional sexuality: Exploring new frameworks for bisexual desires. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 29, 320-338.

Session 2: Non-binary sexual identities: Similarities, differences, and implications for our understanding of sexuality

Callis, A. S. (2014). Bisexual, pansexual, queer: Non-binary identities and the sexual borderlands. Sexualities, 17, 63-80.

Carrillo, H., & Hoffman, A. (2018). “Straight with a pinch of bi”: The construction of heterosexuality as an elastic category among adult US men. Sexualities, 21, 90-108.

Elizabeth, A. (2013). Challenging the binary: Sexual identity that is not duality. Journal of Bisexuality, 13, 329-337.

Scherrer, K. S. (2008). Coming to an asexual identity: Negotiating identity, negotiating desire. Sexualities, 11, 621-641.

Silva, T. J. (2017). Bud-sex: Constructing normative masculinity among rural straight men that have sex with men. Gender & Society, 31, 51-73.

Session 3: Masculinity, femininity, and gender identity/expression in relation to non-binary sexualities

 Galupo, M. P., Henise, S. B., & Mercer, N. L. (2016). “The labels don’t work very well”: Transgender individuals’ conceptualizations of sexual orientation and sexual identity. International Journal of Transgenderism, 17, 93-104.

Lucal, B. (2008). Building boxes and policing boundaries: (De)constructing intersexuality, transgender and bisexuality. Sociology Compass, 2, 519-536.

McShane, H. (2019). The bisexual to be corrected: Interrogating the threat and recuperation of women’s femme bisexuality. Pages 1-13, 17-32, and 86-94.

Phillips, L. (2005). Deconstructing “down low” discourse: The politics of sexuality, gender, race, AIDS, and anxiety. Journal of African American Studies, 9, 3-15.

Steinman, E. (2011). Revisiting the invisibility of (male) bisexuality: Grounding (queer) theory, centering bisexual absences and examining masculinities. Journal of Bisexuality, 11, 399-411.

 Session 4: Social, cultural, and political influences on non-binary sexualities (Part 1)

Callis, A. S. (2014). Where Kinsey, Christ, and Tila Tequila meet: Discourse and the sexual (non)-binary. Journal of Homosexuality, 61, 1627-1648.

Fahs, B. (2009). Compulsory bisexuality: The challenges of modern sexual fluidity. Journal of Bisexuality, 9, 431-449.

Thorne, L. (2013). “But I’m attracted to women”: Sexuality and sexual identity performance in interactional discourse among bisexual students. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 2, 70-100.

Whitney, E. (2001). Cyborgs among us: Performing liminal states of sexuality. Journal of Bisexuality, 2, 109-128.

 Session 5: Social, cultural, and political influences on non-binary sexualities (Part 2)

 Hemmings, C. (2007). What’s in a name? Bisexuality, transnational sexuality studies and western colonial legacies. The International Journal of Human Rights, 11, 12-32.

Lynch, I., & Maree, D. J. F. (2013). Negotiating heteronormativity: Exploring South African bisexual women’s constructions of marriage and family. Feminism & Psychology, 23, 459-477.

Muñoz-Laboy, M., Parker, R., Perry, A., & Garcia, J. (2013). Alternative frameworks for examining Latino male bisexuality in the urban space: A theoretical commentary based on ethnographic research in Rio de Janeiro and New York. Sexualities, 16, 501-522.

Thompson, B. Y. (2000). Fence sitters, switch hitters, and bi-bi girls: An exploration of Hapa and bisexual identities. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 21, 171-180.

Session 6: Challenging erasure and invisibility

Ghabrial, M. A. (2019). “We can shapeshift and build bridges”: Bisexual women and gender diverse people of color on invisibility and embracing the borderlands. Journal of Bisexuality, 19, 169-197.

Hartman, J. E. (2013). Creating a bisexual display: Making bisexuality visible. Journal of Bisexuality, 13, 39-62.

Lingel, J. (2009). Adjusting the borders: Bisexual passing and queer theory. Journal of Bisexuality, 9, 381-405.

Maliepaard, E. (2018). Spaces with a bisexual appearance: Reconceptualizing bisexual space(s) through a study of bisexual practices in the Netherlands. Social & Cultural Geography.



Questions about the reading group or application process may be sent to Cassilyn Ostrander at

For more information on previous years’ reading groups, click here.

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