Arts & Culture

Prof honored at ‘Writing Sex’ literary conference

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, September 24, 2012

 

The “Writing Sex and Other Matters” conference held this weekend gathered together scholars from across the United States and Canada to honor Jonathan Goldberg, professor, mentor and leader in the field of English literature and sexuality studies. The conference, held at the Annmary Brown Memorial, included many speakers who had worked directly with Goldberg as students or colleagues. The talks focused upon Renaissance writers, who were divided into the categories Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare

On Friday, the scholars discussed their perspectives on non-Shakespeare authors and the experience of having Goldberg as a teacher. On Saturday, they discussed Shakespeare, Goldberg’s work and the broader idea of sexuality. Goldberg has studied the roles of gender and sexuality across a wide variety of authors and encourages his students to do the same, said one of the presenters Richard Rambuss, professor of English at Brown.

The conference consisted of presentations of essays on numerous Renaissance poets, playwrights and novelists and essays regarding sexuality within other literature. Professors’ areas of study included comparative literature, English and modern culture and media – among others – and came from a wide variety of universities.

After 15 years at Emory University, Rambuss said he came to Brown for its “strength in Renaissance literature and gender and sexuality studies.” Rambuss studied under Goldberg at Johns Hopkins University while writing his dissertation.

One of the key reasons the conference was held was to bring together groups of scholars who admire Goldberg’s work and have been inspired by him, Rambuss said. Another goal of “Writing Sex,” he said, was to “bring together international scholars to talk about one of the most important literary critics in gender and sexuality studies … and not just the work of Jonathan, but the work of his students.” 

As Goldberg approaches retirement, many of his students from previous years wanted to show their appreciation for his dedication to the field and his teaching, said Karen Newman, professor of comparative literature and English at Brown. All lectures were “very well attended,” she said, despite their proximity to the Brown-Harvard football game. 

Rambuss’ presentation at the conference focused on his recent paper about Milton’s devotional poetry. Rambuss said he wrote about Spencer in his dissertation under Goldberg, but had originally planned to write about Milton. “This paper was to finally deliver something on Milton that I had promised (Goldberg) as a student,” Rambuss said.

Goldberg taught at Brown for a year before moving to Johns Hopkins. “It’s a shame,” Newman said. “He was a great intellectual presence.”

  • Anonymous

    I always thought that sexuality studies should be taught by parents, (much) older siblings, shrinks, and physicians, or as in the case of F. Buehler movie, by older prostitutes. That it would be taught by a really old professor of English really makes my skin crawl.