Directors’ Letters

Director’s Letter Fall 2020

Dear Carolina Sexuality Studies Community Members:

This past year has been one of exciting changes for the Program. We are now housed in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and in the midst of reimagining the minor’s curriculum to be both more reflective of current conversations happening in the interdisciplinary field of LGBTQIA Studies examining intersections between race, ethnicity, nationality, and class, in the study of sexuality and gender identity.

As you all are well aware, this has also been a new year fraught with uncertainty, upheaval, and historic challenges. The continued twin epidemics haunting the present moment; the global pandemic and the continued legacy of American anti-black racism and police brutality, along with the ongoing lived precarity of trans women of color, make our work in LGBTQIA Studies ever more important. Since its founding in 2004 the Program in Sexuality Studies has provided a dynamic intellectual space for students, faculty, and staff to think through the most pressing questions involving those communities, identities, and subjectivities deemed gender and sexually nonnormative.

UNC at Chapel Hill has been instrumental as a for leading scholars in the field of LGBTQIA Studies, particularly those foundational to Black LGBQ studies and queer of color critique. This September we lost a giant in that regard when Associate Professor of Creative Writing Randall Kenan passed away. We will continue to honor Randall Kenan’s life and work in the years to come.

This fall the Program is partnering with the LGBTQ Center and Honors Carolina Pride to host Queer MiniCon, a two-day online conference featuring a keynote address by Dr. Antonia Randolph (American Studies). The conference will take place October 9th and 13th and bring together LBGTQIA+ affirming work from undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff. On October 21st, I will also be in-conversation with literary critic, poet, and professor Stephanie Burt (Harvard University, English) to discuss her poetry collection Advice from the Lights (2017) as part of the kick-off event for Ackland Art Museum’s year long LGBTQ-themed book and queer cinema series.  The series is part of the Ackland receiving a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant. As the year unfolds I hope you will continue to check our website for more events and news about cross-campus partnerships and programing.

I hope to get to know each of you in the coming years, and I look forward with great anticipation to the work we will do together.

In solidarity,

Jacob Lau

Read letters from previous years:

Director’s Letter Fall 2019

Dear Carolina Community Members:

Since its inception in 2004, the Program in Sexuality Studies at UNC-CH has provided a vibrant intellectual space for students, faculty and staff in Chapel Hill. But what truly makes for a dynamic intellectual space? Why Sexuality Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill? There are some salient facts about the region that might surprise residents and visitors alike. Did you know that the majority of LGBTQ people in the United States choose to live in the south? Did you know that the intellectual roots of what sustains work in the field of sexuality studies were founded in the Triangle?

Our mission in the Program is to grow that connection between the communities we serve and the work that we do. With affiliated faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, the Medical School, the School of Journalism, the School of Public health and the UNC Law School, our Program extends itself to every corner of the university, making it a truly interdisciplinary space. We foster conversations about how questions of sexual identity and expression emerge in all aspects of society and how those questions have been asked and answered across all cultures and human history. One of our primary goals is to serve our undergraduate students through our minor. Our other goal is to develop events geared toward the university and local community.

We hold a number of events each semester including visiting scholar lectures and performances, casual conversations over lunch (our “Lunch ‘N Learn series), and conferences featuring student and faculty presenters. This year we hosted a Valentine’s Day reception for Professor E. Patrick Johnson (Carolina alum) after his reading of several narratives collected in his book, Black. Queer. Southern. Women. – An Oral History. In addition, we sponsored a Lunch ‘N Learn for performance artist Virginia Grise who met with students, faculty, staff and community members to talk about her performance, Your Healing is Killing Me (Playmakers Rep., April 2019).

The next academic year will be an exciting one, as we roll out our new website in September of 2019 and reimagine the office space for the Program as a library and gathering space for our minors and members of the community seeking an intellectual community.

I look forward to completing new projects and to welcoming old and new friends in the coming academic year.  Please look for us and join us, our door is always open.


Professor Sharon P. Holland

Director, Program in Sexuality Studies

Townsend Ludington Distinguished Professor of American Studies

Director’s Letter Fall 2017

Director’s Letter Summer 2016