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Schulman joins Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

August 26, 2009

English Professor Sarah Schulman has been named to a program advisory collective on human rights.

English Professor Sarah Schulman has been named to a program advisory collective on human rights.

Sarah Schulman, Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, has been named to the Founding Advisory Collective of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Speaking of the appointment, Schulman, who is an author, playwright, historian, and activist, says, “This is a huge moment for me personally. For years I have worked and accomplished a great deal in many arenas, but because I have had integrity about my lesbian content, I have often not been acknowledged at my level of merit. To sit on a board with [New York Times columnist] Frank Rich and [journalist, author, and activist] Naomi Klein means that The Carr Center has come to the place where they will not allow indifference or marginalization of lesbian content to demean intellectuals and artists and keep us from our appropriate peer group.”

Timothy McCarthy, Lecturer on History and Literature and on Public Policy, and Director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program, notes that the Program, which will launch this fall, seeks to answer the questions of “what happens when we put human rights and social movements together, how do social movements challenge the way we think about human rights, and how do human rights inform, inspire, or confound social movements that seek to transform society?” The Program will employ research and teaching to address these issues and, McCarthy states, it “will sponsor conferences and lecture series, biweekly study groups, a spring-term brownbag series on humanities and human rights, a whole range of things.” As for the Advisory Collective, he explains that it “includes scholars and activists and policymakers from a whole range of backgrounds and institutions.”

Discussing his reasons for selecting Schulman, McCarthy says that he has “long admired Sarah’s work, as a scholar, a writer, and as a public intellectual and activist. She is someone who quite deftly combines all those roles in a way that’s pretty rare. She is someone whose political activism I’ve always admired, whose writing I find provocative and powerful, and who personally I know to be someone who is deeply engaged and committed to the public work of bringing ideas to bear on the world problems so that we can work together to change society. She is someone I see as having done that for her entire career.”

Schulman notes the timeliness of the Program’s launch, especially in relation to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues. “Politically, it is time that the human rights movement, internationally, acknowledge that LGBT people are “human” and that our liberation movements are “human rights” movements. I have a 30-year history of political and cultural activism for LGBT people and people with AIDS, and it’s time for that work to be seen in the broad human rights paradigm. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my perspective to a wide range of global events, and be allowed to participate in the big conversation.”

Schulman is the author of 14 books : the novels The Mere Future (2009), The Child (2007), Shimmer (1998), Rat Bohemia (1995), Empathy (1992), People in Trouble (1990), After Delores (1988), Girls Visions and Everything (1986), The Sophie Horowitz Story (1984), the nonfiction books The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (forthcoming in 2010), Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (2009), Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America (1998), My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (1994), and the plays Carson McCullers (2002) (published by Playscripts Inc,), Manic Flight Reaction (2005) and Enemies, A Love Story (2007) adapted from IB Singer.

Her awards include a Guggenheim (Playwriting), Fulbright (Judaic Studies), Revson Fellow for the Future of New York at Columbia University, two American Library Association Book Awards (Fiction and Nonfiction), three NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (Fiction and Playwriting), finalist for the Prix de Rome, Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies.

A participant citizen, Schulman has been active in a number of foundational movements for social change including abortion rights, AIDS activism, and the gay and lesbian liberation movement. She is co-founder with Jim Hubbard of both: MIX:NY LGBT Experimental Film and Video Festival, and the ACT UP Oral History Project (www.actuporalhistory.org).

Schulman is also a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.

English Professor Sarah Schulman has been named to a program advisory collective on human rights.

By Terry Mares


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