Colloquium | Katherine Sender

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 5:00pm

Katherine Sender

What is a Sex Museum? Bodies of Knowledge in Marginal Institutions

This paper addresses how institutions that publicly display explicitly erotic materials draw upon and undermine conventional museum practices of display and behavior. Data gathered from site visits and interviews with employees in European, North American, and East Asian institutions suggest that some sex museums appeal to priviledged discourses (education, history, culture) whereas others encourage less legitimate modes of engagement (participation, snapshots, touching exhibits). These disruptions to the rational, distanced conventions of modern museum visiting demand a consideration of how sex museums in various locales reproduce and/or undermine gendered, raced, classed and heteronormative hierarchies of sexual knowledge.

Katherine Sender is a professor in the department of Media, Film and Television Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She was assistant, then associate professor at the Annenberg School at Penn from 2002-2011. She is the author of Business not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market (2004) and The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences (2012). She has produced a number of documentaries about media representation, including Off the Straight and Narrow: Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender People on Television (1998, 2006) and Brand New You: Makeover Television and the American Dream (forthcoming). She is a research fellow at the Five Colleges Women’s Studies Research Center in Amherst, MA, for fall 2013.

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