Black/Feminist/Lesbian/Queer/Trans* Cultural Production: A Symposium Honoring the 20th Anniversary of Cheryl Dunye’s “The Watermelon Woman”

Black/Feminist/Lesbian/Queer/Trans* Cultural Production: A Symposium Honoring the 20th Anniversary of Cheryl Dunye’s “The Watermelon Woman”

September 23rd – 24th, 2016 at San Francisco State University.

Black and white line illustration of a Black woman in a button up shirt with short cropped hair.


This symposium honors the 20th anniversary of Cheryl Dunye’s film, “The Watermelon Woman” (1996). The first feature film directed by and starring a black lesbian, the production of this film marked a watershed moment for black cinema, feminist cinema, lesbian cinema, and new queer cinema. Appearing in the heyday of what filmmaker and scholar Yvonne Welbon has called the “golden age” of black queer cinema, the film garnered widespread critical acclaim, and its success inspired many black lesbians to create their own films in the years following. Her latest release, “Black is Blue” (2014) is a critically acclaimed narrative short film that follows the life of a black transgender man in Oakland, California. Dunye continues to break ground through complex filmic representations of the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. This symposium is both a moment of celebration and introspection: featuring presentations by scholars who draw on the interdisciplinary fields of feminist, lesbian, queer, and trans* studies in their critical approaches to black cultural production, but who also will engage “the tensions and contradictions that bind these approaches together.”

If you’re interested in reserving a hotel room at a downtown San Francisco Marriott for a specially arranged discounted rate during the Symposium, make your reservation here.

For more information on the Symposium, please visit this link.

Symposium Schedule:

Friday, September 23rd—McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Building, SFSU

3-6 pm—Black Feminist, Queer, and Trans* Film Festival

6-7:00 pm—Film Panel: Chair, B.K. Williams, Filmmaker and Co-Organizer
Jethro Patalinghug, Cinematographer
Kortney Ziegler, Filmmaker

7-8: 30 pm—A Conversation with Dee Rees and Cheryl Dunye
Moderator: Des BufordFrameline Director of Programming


Saturday, September 24th—Nob Hill Room, Seven Hills Conference Center, SFSU

9:30-10 am—Light Breakfast

10-11:30 am—Panel: Chair, Jacqueline Francis, CCA
Jillian Hernandez, Ethnic Studies, UCSD
Derek Conrad Murray, History of Art, UCSC
GerShun Avilez, English, UNC-Chapel Hill

11:30-11:50—Performance by Brian Freeman (Pomo Afro Homos)

12:00-1:00—Lunch on your own.

1:00-2:30—Panel: Chair, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Professor, Cinema, SFSU
Mireille Miller-Young, Feminist Studies, UCSB
L.H. Stallings, Women’s Studies, UMD
Matt Richardson, English and African and African Diaspora Studies, UT-Austin

2:30-2:50—Reading by Jewelle Gomez (The Gilda Stories)

3:00-5:00—Plenary Panel: Chair, Alex Juhasz, Film, Brooklyn College
Kara Keeling, Cinematic Arts, USC
Yvonne Welbon, Journalism and Media Studies, Bennett College for Women
Jennifer Devere Brody, Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford

5:00-600—VIP Reception: Seven Hills Conference Center—Registration is $25.00

Planning Committee:

Convener: Darius Bost, Assistant Professor of Sexuality Studies, SFSU
Assistant Director of CREGS, SFSU

Jacqueline Francis, Robert A. Corrigan Visiting Professor of Social Justice, SFSU
Associate Professor, Visual and Critical Studies, California College of the Arts

Alexandra Juhasz, Professor and Chair, School of Cinema, Brooklyn College
Jillian Sandal, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies, SFSU
Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Professor, Cinema, SFSU
B.K. Williams, Filmmaker, Arts and Culture Commissionar, City of Richmond, CA


The Conference, sponsored by The College of Health and Social Sciences, Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality, Dean of the College of Health and Social Sciences, Dean of the College of Creative and Liberal Arts, Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Funds, Queer Cinema Institute at San Francisco State University, Watermelon Woman 3.0, and Black Sexual Economies Working Group (Washington University-St. Louis), is free and open to the public.