Marquette’s would-be dean ‘one of today's most important theorists of sexual politics’
May 13, 2010
Dr. Jodi O’Brien, whose appointment as arts and sciences dean at Marquette University was recently rescinded-- reportedly after a call from Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee-- has devoted an important part of her scholarship to “queer culture and politics.”
In a 2007 book, she wrote, “I have found it nearly impossible to gain any traction in discussions with my [Mormon] family about queer culture and politics. Over the years, I’ve stopped trying to talk to them about how much any of this matters to me. Instead, I focus on making a differences through the courses I teach on sexual politics at a Jesuit university [Seattle University], through my writing and public lectures (including, ironically, the many churches that invite me to speak), and related forms of education and activism.”
A former student recounted:
Dr. O'Brien, Chair of Seattle University's Sociology Department and one of today's most important theorists of sexual politics, is a scholar who consistently blends her theory and her praxis. It is not enough for her to redefine sexual shame and silence, heteronormativity, or homophobia in academic terms; in her community lectures and classroom practices, Jodi O'Brien unpacks these concepts, making them accessible and meaningful in our everyday lives.
As her former student from 1997-1999, I can attest to the ways in which Jodi O'Brien gets her students on the front lines not just of sociology, but of life. Always taking an interdisciplinary approach, Jodi has introduced Madonna videos, coming-out novels, and visits from transsexuals into what would otherwise be "standard fare”-- and no doubt far less interesting-- sociology courses.