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Interview: PWR Lecturers Selby Schwartz and Maxe Crandall on their Gender Scholarship

group of people on stage

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric is fortunate to have two exceptional gender scholars who are both artists and activists. 

Dr. Selby Wynn Schwartz specializes in human rights, gender and sexuality, social justice issues, and the arts.  A dance scholar and dramaturg, Selby’s writing has been published in academic journals such as Women and PerformanceDance Research Journal, and PAJ, as well as in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies. Her book on drag dance is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press.  With PWR lecturer Dr Maxe Crandall, Selby has co-written a number of articles on trans performance.

Maxe works in the intersections of genre/literary studies, queer theory, transgender studies, and experimental poetics and performance. His current project is a critical biography of Gertrude Stein, titled Gertrude Stein and Men. Maxe’s play Together Men Make Paradigms (Portable Press, 2014) was a finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award and premiered in the NYC Hot Festival at Dixon Place. Additional creative work includes the short play Underwater Wedding, and the poetry chapbook Emoji for Cher Heart (Belladonna, 2015), as well as poetry and essays in SFMOMA's Open SpaceJacket2the Recluse, and Vetch.

Selby and Maxe kindly answered some questions for the PWR Newsletter with some resources for students and a wishlist for the future:

Q: Tell us about your individual and collaborative work at Stanford.

Selby: One class I often teach is a PWR 2 about Mobility, and we begin with a seemingly simple question from Astra Taylor's Examined Life: "What is a walk?".  In the framework of disability studies and queer studies, a walk is a microcosm of how bodies are constrained or enabled to do things in social space. What can your body be like, or look like, and still be able to have a safe walk? Obviously, these questions are as much about gender, sexuality, race, and class as they are about disability. That's why, I think, both Maxe and I teach intersectional feminism.

Maxe: One way individual work succeeds comes from staging encounters that require response. Selby is a pro at walking into an office and asking, "What resources are there for formerly incarcerated students?" or "Are there plans for an all gender restroom near this swimming pool?" I often frame communication, writing, and speaking as ways to pose questions like these and then find solutions. Since coming to PWR, I have used ArtsCatalyst grants to bring trans artists to campus. Those invitations have been powerful on many dimensions.

Q: You have some great resources for students.  Where can we point students?

Selby:  On campus there is Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention. Here is their Twitter: (@StanfordASAP).  Their Facebook page can be found at

Also, I would use the list that Lily Zheng ‘17, a social psychology major and columnist for The Daily, offered  as the beginning steps to create a safer campus. You can see them here in her article: “Confessions of a Trans Woman.”  

You might refer to this Daily article on Title IX as well.

Q: Can you give us a wishlist of things you'd like to see happen at Stanford?

Selby & Maxe:

  • Gender-inclusive facilities in all buildings, including athletic facilities
  • Justice for survivors of sexual assault, based on the work of Michele Landis Dauber and Stanford ASAP
  • Real institutional change in response to the demands of Stanford Sanctuary Now, Who's Teaching Us, and other student-led activist groups working hard for social, racial, and gender justice on this campus

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