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Esther Newton in conversation with Ellen Lewin

To join this virtual event, register here.

Pioneering anthropologist and founder of LGBTQ studies, Esther Newton reads from her latest book, My Butch Career: A Memoir, published by Duke University Press in 2018. As Cassandra Langer wrote in the Gay and Lesbian Review, “My Butch Career joins a distinguished list of lesbian herstories that includes Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues and Lillian Faderman’s Naked in the Promised Land.  It is for readers interested in the psychological and cultural challenges for an individual who identifies as a butch lesbian, as well as readers who are interested in lesbian Herstory within the greater context of the gay rights movement." Following the reading, Ellen Lewin, Professor Emerita of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa, will lead a Q&A. Professor Lewin is a feminist anthropologist who has worked on issues of LGBT families throughout her career and more recently on a coalition of predominantly black LGBT Pentecostal churches.  

The University of Iowa is hosting Esther Newton as part of a Joint Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorship with her partner, the international renowned performance artist, Holly Hughes. Held virtually this year because of the pandemic, the visit is sponsored by the Office of the Provost; the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, and Theatre Arts; and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.  

Esther Newton is a founder of and leading scholar in LGBTQ studies.  She has taught at Purchase College of the State University of New York, the University of Paris VII, Paris, France and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).  She was active in Second Wave Feminism, Gay Liberation and the Lesbian/Feminist movements. Her work has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish and Slovak.

She will be joined in conversation by Ellen Lewin, a cultural anthropologist who is a Professor Emeritus in the departments of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies and Anthropology at The University of Iowa. She is the author of Recognizing Ourselves: Ceremonies of Lesbian and Gay Commitment and Gay Fatherhood: Narratives of Family and Citizenship in America.

Related event: “Indelible: Christine Blasey Ford as Performance Artist , ” Public Lecture/Performance by Holly Hughes, followed by Q&A, Thursday, April 8, 5:00-7:00 Central time.  

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact in advance at

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