About the speakers & series hosts: Jessica Hille, Assistant Director for Education at the Kinsey Institute and Rebecca Fasman, Curator for the Kinsey Institute’s Art, Artifact, and Photography Collections, are also our hosts for this symposium lecture series.
Jessica received her PhD from the Department of Gender Studies at IU and a JD from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on sexuality, diversity, and relationships. In law school, her studies included intellectual property, censorship, and civil rights law.
Rebecca earned a Masters degree in Museum Studies from New York University and has over fifteen years of experience working with museums, collections, and exhibits. Her research focuses on expanding the art historical canon, and specifically to include artwork by artists from marginalized communities.
About the speaker: Andrew C. Cooper, Ph.D. received his doctorate from Indiana University’s Department of History. His dissertation, “Diagnosed with Sex: Rethinking Social Science, Sexology, and Identity, 1880–1970,” explores the history of sex researchers’ approaches to sexual identity development. He was a historical consultant to the Kinsey Institute (2016–2017), and currently serves as the production editor at the Journal of American History.
About the speaker: Svetlana Mintcheva is director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of U.S. national organizations committed to protecting freedom of speech. She is the founding director of NCAC’s Arts Advocacy Program, the only U.S. national initiative devoted to the arts and free expression today. Dr. Mintcheva has written on emerging trends in censorship, organized public discussions and mobilized support for individual artists. She is the co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (New Press, 2006) and of Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity (Routledge, 2020 forthcoming).
An academic as well as an activist, Dr. Mintcheva has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and at Duke University, NC from which she received her Ph.D. in critical theory in 1999, as well as at New York University. Her current research focuses on the challenges to the concept of free speech posed by social media, social justice movements and political polarization.
About the speaker: Preston Mitchum (he/him) is a Black and queer civil rights advocate, writer, and public speaker who uses critical thinking and intersectionality in his writing and analyses. He brings both legal and policy experience to his role as the Director of Policy of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity.
In addition to his work at URGE, Preston is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center teaching LGBT Health Law and Policy, is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Collective Action for Safe Spaces. Preston was also the first openly LGBTQ Chair of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.
Preston is an accomplished author publishing both scholarly work and social commentary for many outlets and law review journals including The Atlantic, Think Progress, The Root, Slate.com, Huffington Post, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives, North Carolina Central University School of Law’s Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Law Review, and others. Preston has also appeared on Al Jazeera English and Fox News.
"31 Photographs: 'Obscenity,' Censorship, and Academic Freedom" is an online symposium originally offered in conjuction with Indiana University's Themester 2020: Democracy. The symposium features talks related to censorship and academic freedom, art and obscenity, and the relationship between democracy and how free people are to express themselves. Speakers explore the role of government in shaping what is deemed ‘acceptable,’ particularly as it relates to sexuality and sexual expression, and how individuals and institutions can challenge censorship to promote free expression and democratic values.
These talks are inspired by the history and ongoing impact of a 1956 U.S. customs case in which 31 photographs and other materials being shipped to the Kinsey Institute (then the Institute for Sex Research) were seized for being “obscene” under the laws of the day. IU president Herman B Wells sided with the Institute and the principles of academic freedom, and a federal court ultimately ruled in Kinsey and IU’s favor. More than six decades later, Indiana University carries on Herman B Wells’ legacy as a champion of free academic inquiry.
This event was sponsored by Themester 2020, an initiative of the IU College of Arts and Sciences.