People Orientations: Toward a Queer and Transgender Software History




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Join the Department of Humanities for a guest lecture featuring Whitney Pow, a Ph.D. candidate in screen cultures and member of the Presidential Society of Fellows at Northwestern University. Pow is an expert on the history of video games and its intersection with LGBTQ history.

This talk traces the history of experimental video art, artificial intelligence, and networked online video games through the contributions of queer trans women and the software and digital media they designed. These women imagined new possibilities and potentialities for digital media during a period of great change with regard to the increasing visibility, diagnosis, and control of transgender people in medical history. 

Pow will discuss the life and career of Jamie Faye Fenton, the queer and transgender programmer behind Digital TV Dinner, the first-ever piece of digital video glitch art, which was broadcast on Chicago public television in 1978. They will also discuss the addition of the term “Gender Identity Disorder” to the medical lexicon in 1980, which was used to classify and “diagnose” trans people, enabling institutional systems of surveillance for trans and non-binary people in the United States. 

This event is sponsored by the Department of Humanities. The lecture will be livestreamed online using Zoom software starting at 5 p.m. To join the lecture and discussion please email Mar Hicks, associate professor of history, at no later than 4 p.m. on March 11, and she will provide the link. 


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