Exuality Studies, Intersectionality

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The event I attended was a presentation given by Dr. Dean Franco, a professor in the English department and director of the Humanities Institute at Wake Forest. This event consisted of Franco talking about his new book, The Border and the Line – Race, Literature, and Los Angeles, published in January of 2019. The event began with a brief introduction of Franco, given by another professor in the English department. After the brief introduction, Franco started to go into detail about the make-up of his book, composed of an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. The event aimed to briefly describe the most critical points in Franco’s novel and give insight to his writing process. While the content was utterly unfamiliar to me, I did not feel totally uncomfortable throughout most of the event. However, my unfamiliarity with the material did prove difficult when attempting to follow along with the discussion, especially when certain terminology used to describe specific processes was used. The most challenging part of the presentation was understanding the various definitions for borders and lines and how they both correspond and diverge with one another, mostly due to my basic understanding of the physical description of both words and my inability to imagine them on an abstract sense. The reason I experienced this was due to a lack of prior knowledge on these subjects, something that I feel many of the individuals in the room possessed.

The intended audience of this event was mostly for students majoring in English, as Franco is a part of the English department and having a published novel is a great accomplishment and something these students could learn from. This means that a substantial number of the individuals present were in their 20’s, both male and female, of various ethnicities. A large part of the audience was also made up of professors from the English department, both men and women of different ages, all present to support their colleague. The response to the event was very positive, most of the crowd emanating supportive energy. Their approval of Franco’s work was very obvious, from the message portrayed by his book and the enthusiasm behind its publication. Typically, at this time during an ordinary Tuesday, I would be either in my room or in the library doing my homework. This presentation is different from ones that I usually might attend as the idea behind the book provided me with a newfound knowledge on topics I had never even considered.

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The presentation was based mostly on the main ideas behind Franco’s book, which include race and racialization, how racial identification and interracial encounters are represented and made possible by writing, with the general question being how writing makes things happen in the real world. With this in mind, there is a connection between Franco’s book and the concepts of gender, sex, and most specifically intersectionality that we covered in class. Franco explores how one’s racial identification, as well as one’s economic and political status, define how and where boundaries are established and if they can or cannot be crossed. Just as intersectionality is described as the idea that people’s experiences are shaped by the convergence of multiple factors such as race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and sex, the borders and boundaries set by the freeways and streets of Los Angeles create both ethnic enclaves and pathways for interracial connection. In other words, physical boundaries established by freeways and roads are given the ability to make and unmake racial identities. This idea goes along with intersectionality because it defines the experiences of individuals living among certain boundaries and how these divisions play into their quality of life. Although, in this case, the division is a physical one, race, ethnicity, sex, and class play an influential role in the different neighborhoods, determining their outcome. The message represented by the book reflects upon the ideas of justice, equality, power, and cultural differences as different barriers and their effects on the population found within them are described. For example, various neighborhoods in Los Angeles are defined by gang activity and their inability to be habitable places. Franco writes of Union de Vecinos, an organization that works alongside both gangs and the police to make certain neighborhoods livable. Another portion of his book where justice and equality come into play is his description of the different socioeconomic statutes found throughout Los Angeles — using the example of Budd Schulberg, a famous Hollywood writer and novelist who founded a writing workshop dedicated to developing creative writing talent as a solution to black social alienation. However, the project became less about language and more about material space, as Schulberg spent most of his time trying to secure homes for the participants. What Schulberg failed to understand was that, although his initiative had the right idea, race materializes through instruments of law and capital and plays an influential role in real estate and the property based economy. Intersectionality is shaped by multiple factors such as race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and sex. In the case of Franco’s book and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, intersectionality defines the course of an individual’s life, whether established by physical or metaphorical aspects.

Going into the presentation, I did not expect to be engaged by the subject very much. Looking back at the experience, I am grateful for having attended this event. Although the material presented in the book is directly related to Los Angeles, the ideas behind the importance of race in everyday aspects of life are one that I can relate to on a personal level. The event had a social impact on me, pushing me to analyze how important race and racialization have become in our society. The idea that simple divisions in a highway system have the power to cause such a high rate of variability among one city, based mostly on the impact of race, showed me that the beliefs and priorities that make up our society today must be reevaluated. The purpose of this event was to inform the audience on the inspiration behind Franco’s newest book, a goal that I believe was well executed. The material was divided into sections, following the order of the book. A short description of the most critical parts of each section was delivered, each account clear and coherent. Overall, the presentation was well-thought-out, entertaining, and informative on a subject that did not seem that fascinating at first.

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Exuality Studies, Intersectionality. (2022, Jul 22). Retrieved from


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