USC Professor to discuss gender politics of Lady Gaga


Pop icon Lady Gaga’s experimental music and performative persona have moved off the stage and into academic discussion.

On Tuesday, NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis will host a talk titled “What’s Gaga Got to do With It?: Gaga Feminism and Queer Anarchy,” featuring University of Southern California professor Judith Jack Halberstam as the guest speaker.

Halberstam, a professor of English, ethnicity, gender studies and American studies at USC, is the author of five books about issues such as feminism, masculinity, cross-dressing culture and gothic culture.

“What’s Gaga Got to Do With It?” will focus on Halberstam’s latest book, “Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal,” released earlier this year. The book recognizes the pop singer not as a musical icon but an example of a new variety of feminism that centers on gender and sexual fluidity.


“We are really at an interesting juncture right now when it comes to sex and gender politics because marriage as [an] institution is losing currency due to high divorce rates, and people really are exploring all kinds of different options for their intimate lives and their sense of kinship and community,” Halberstam said. “My book argues that feminism is still a very important conversation and that we may need to revamp what we mean by feminism in order to address contemporary questions and issues.”

Gayatri Gopinath, associate professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU, has organized the event. Gopinath said Halberstam’s work exemplifies the cutting edge of scholarship in gender, sexuality and popular culture — issues the SCA Department is particularly committed to examining.

“The topic of Halberstam’s book is relevant to the NYU community and beyond as it questions the taken-for-granted aspects of gender and sexual identity, and [it] looks to both popular culture and queer subcultures for alternatives to normative notions of marriage, family, kinship, desire and community,” Gopinath said.

The event will begin with a short lecture by Victor Corona, a postdoctoral fellow at NYU, on the history of the queer performance in New York City. Halberstam will then present “Gaga Feminism,” aided by audiovisual clips of Gaga’s performances.

“I am going to address Lady Gaga’s actual performance history and argue why she might be an intriguing figure around whom to build a sense of gender politics,” Halberstam said. “I will also be exploring some new ideas about anarchy, music and power, and I am excited to engage with people about anarchy, occupations, protest, music and queer politics.”

After Halberstam’s presentation, she will hold a discussion with Corona and have a question and answer session with the audience.

“What’s Gaga Got to do With It?: Gaga Feminism and Queer Anarchy” will take place 6:30 p.m. this evening at NYU’s SCA Department at 20 Cooper Square, fourth floor. The event is free and open to the public.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Dec.11 print edition. Paige Brott is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]



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