Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi

February 11, 2013 | IMU Oak Room | 2:30PM

Peg Zeglin Brand Lecture Series Presents: Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi by Amy Sueyoshi, Ph.D. (Associate Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University)

At the turn of the century Japanese immigrant poet Yone Noguchi, the father of renown Asian American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, wrote love letters to western writer Charles Warren Stoddard, impregnated editor Leonie Gilmour, and proposed marriage to journalist Ethel Armes – a woman who in fact preferred romantic, life-long relationships with women rather than men.  Queer Compulsions unveils Noguchi’s interracial and same-sex affairs to assert that Asian Americans found romantic fulfillment even within reportedly anti-Japanese and heteronormative California; and, underscores how Asians and Pacific Islanders played a critical role in articulations of attraction and affection within America’s supposedly all-white bohemian community.  Additionally, Noguchi’s intimate life illustrates how seemingly sex-segregated worlds of “romantic friendships” collided in desire and deception.  While Noguchi’s affairs seem to resist existing mores, they powerfully reflected gender, racial, and imperial realities of the time.  Notably, he manipulated his race, gender, and sexuality in his quest for happiness. Queer Compulsions attests to the complex interaction between lived sexualities and socio-legal mores as it traces how one man negotiated affection across cultural, linguistic, and moral divides to find fulfillment in unconventional yet acceptable ways.  Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

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