On Tuesday, September 21st, Wendy Moffat, an English professor at Dickinson and an internationally hailed writer, presented her lecture titled “Modern Sex” at McDaniel’s 25th Annual Holloway Lecture.
“The title of the lecture is really thought provoking, and this [topic} relates to a lot of my classes,” said junior Samantha Lopez.
Citing Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, H.D. Lawrence, Walt Whitman and Jane Austen as her inspiration and leading sources/critics for her lecture, Moffat delivered an exuberant presentation about homosexuality – the origins of the fears and the stereotypes – as well as a complex definition of “modern sex.”
After all, she told the standing room only crowd that there is hardly any fiction that does not touch base on or revolves around sex, whether it be sexual relationships, identity, or freedom.
Moffat attributed social behavioral change as the roots for what was and is considered “normal.” In Contrast, “abnormal” is all behaviors beyond what the majority was and is doing. The “normal” behaviors define what society as a whole considers appropriate, acceptable sexual practices.
Moffat also mapped out how the regulation of behavior shifted from what was once private and is now public domain. She cited examples linked to white slavery, adultery, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy termination, and sexual consent. She compared the past viewpoints/social reactions to sex, directing the audiences attention to the famous case against Oscar Wilde and the life of E.M. Forster.
These men were considered “criminal because of their sex, not the sex itself.” Drawing from the research of postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault about knowledge and power, Moffat noted the importance of understanding the fallout of limiting sexual independence and freedom. She noted how unfair and fast society is to judge anything that deviates from the norm.
“I’m a sociology major so I was able to apply several of her concepts to Durkheim’s theories, it was a very interesting presentation,” said Senior Katie Brochette.