A Celebration of the Life and Works of Alexander M. Doty Schedule of Events
Friday, October 12, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
If you have photos that you would like to share with the planning committee, please email Mary L. Gray (mLg@indiana.edu) or Brenda Weber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tributes From Indiana University:
The Indiana University community is deeply saddened today over the death of Alexander Doty, a prominent scholar, professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington.
Doty was vacationing in Bermuda when he was struck by a motorcycle. He had been in critical condition since Thursday and passed away Sunday morning due to head injuries sustained from the accident.
"The entire IU Bloomington community mourns the unexpected and tragic death of Alex Doty," said Lauren Robel, IU executive vice president and provost of the IU Blooomington campus. "Alex was respected across the campus, and we will miss his voice and his presence as a faculty leader. We have lost a valued colleague with Alex's passing, and our hearts go out to Alex's family and friends during this very difficult time."
Doty joined the faculties of the Departments of Communication and Culture and Gender Studies in 2008. He came to IU from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. He received a Ph.D. in English and film studies in 1984 from the University of Illinois-Urbana.
"Alex Doty's tragic death is a terrible loss for all of us at IU and in the College," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Larry Singell. "He was a wonderful colleague and human being, and we grieve for his family, his friends, his colleagues and his students. He was an outstanding scholar and teacher, and a great friend to many."
Doty's scholarship centered around gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and feminist film theory. He wrote seminal books on queer film theory and gay culture. At the time of his death he was working on a book with IU Associate Professor of English Patricia Ingham, titled "The Monstrous and the Medieval," an exploration of representations of medieval monstrosity in 20th century film. He was simultaneously at work on a book-length project on contemporary film melodrama, as well as articles about Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock.
Upon learning of his passing, those who knew Doty praised him as a tireless colleague, brilliant writer, witty cultural critic and extraordinarily generous scholar, mentor and friend.
Doty admired the work of renowned IU scientist Alfred Kinsey and was thrilled to work at an institution that supported Kinsey's landmark research. He also sat on the board of directors of the Kinsey Institute and was an ardent supporter of the IU Cinema, for which he conducted podcast interviews with film directors.
Doty leaves behind a mother, Rosanna Doty, from El Paso, Texas, two sisters, Barbara Braudaway and Maria Holmes, two brothers, Arthur and Robert Doty, and beloved students, colleagues and friends all over the world, who are greatly saddened by his tragic and untimely death. Details about a memorial service will be announced at a later date.Department of Communication and Culture
The faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Communication and Culture are saddened to learn of the death of prominent scholar, professor, colleague, department chair, and friend, Alexander Doty. Professor Doty was vacationing on the Island of Bermuda when he was struck by a motorcycle and killed.
Professor Doty joined the faculties of the Departments of Communication and Culture and Gender Studies in the fall of 2008. He came to Indiana University from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in English and Film Studies in 1984 from the University of Illinois-Urbana.
Professor Doty’s scholarship centered around gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gender and feminist film theory. He wrote seminal books on queer film theory and gay culture. At the time of his death he was working on a book with IU Associate Professor of English Patricia Ingham, entitled "The Monstrous and the Medieval," an exploration of representations of medieval monstrosity in 20th century film. He was simultaneously at work on a book-length project on contemporary film melodrama, as well as articles about Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock.
Professor Doty admired the work of Alfred Kinsey and was thrilled to work at an institution that supported Kinsey’s research. He also sat on the board of directors of the Kinsey Institute and was an ardent supporter of the IU Cinema. He did some of their interviews with directors which were turned into podcasts.
Doty leaves behind a mother, Rosanna Doty, from El Paso, Texas; two sisters, Barbara Braudaway and Maria Holmes; two brothers, Arthur and Robert Doty; and beloved students, colleagues and friends all over the world, who are greatly saddened by his tragic and untimely death.
James Naremore, Professor emeritus
I wish I'd had an opportunity to know Alex better. I knew his work, of course, and recently told him how much I admired an essay he'd written about Alfred Hitchcock. He came to IU after I retired, so I had no direct experience of him as a colleague. Even so, I'm going to miss him very much. A big fellow (at least to somebody short like me), he had a quality of gentle, quiet dignity, a winning smile and an evident sense of humor. As far as I could see he was good at everything he did. This is a significant loss not only for his friends and family but also for the department, the university, and the whole field of film studies.
Tributes From the Friend of Alex Doty Facebook Page:
To Alex's family, Patty and Doug, Sunny, Beth, and all of you who love Alex, I am so sorry, and so glad we had him while we did.
He was an amazing teacher, an inspiring feminist ally, and my queer hero. I will miss him terribly.
you don't even know what you meant to me, alex. we'll never recover from this here.
Just seeing this now. This is so tragic. I feel so privileged that I was able to work with Alex (on his Fabulous special issues of Camera Obscura, through various conferences and together in some volumes that emerged from those, most recently on a workshop we did at Console-ing Passions just a couple weeks ago), and I feel so privileged that I was able to call him a friend. To other friends and to his family: there are no words, but I'm wishing you all the strength possible.
Tonight, the world lost a dear light. But, for having been mentored by Dr. Doty, I shine brighter than I ever did before I knew him.
My first semester at Lehigh I took Queer Film Theory with Alex, and it remains one of the most formative experiences of my life. I would not be the person I am today without the honor of being his student. My heart goes out to the Doty family and Alex's many friends.
B Ruby Rich
What a monstrous event, a terrible tragedy. So sad.
Such a terrible loss of such a charming man. Wishing his family some small comfort in knowing how admired he was.
Where ever you are Alex, I know you have the best seat in the house.
I don't think I ever met Alex in person, but I had the pleasure -- and honor -- of working with both he and Corey Creekmur on the Out in Culture volume when I was just beginning my career in scholarly publishing. It was an exceptional time and a terrific experience. Thank you, Alex, for all your efforts in making things perfectly queer.
The last time I spoke with Alex, he wanted to buy me a drink because my husband has been so ill. Such a wonderful, charming and thoughtful man. And what a terrible, stupid, awful event.
Alex was incredibly special and important to me. I was just speaking with him during the last SCMS at the bar with an umbrella in his drink about his ACT UP days in Ithaca. He was a true mentor, inspiration, and friend.
So sad to hear of Alex's tragic death. I met Alex when he first got his job at Lehigh, when I was at SUNY Binghamton. I send my condolences to all friends and family.
Thinking of his stunning radiating smile
Goodbye, sweet Alex. You were your own man, and intrepid. My heart aches.
Alex and Cory were kind enough to let me room with them so I could afford to attend my first ever SC(M)S (in Iowa City). I knew right away upon meeting him that he was a special combination of challenging-ness woven with exceeding kindness. What a loss.
Tracey A. Cummings
All I can say is that there are a few people who make all the difference in the world to someone, and Alex was one of those people in my life. He chaired my exams, but more importantly he was completely there for me at a critical time when I was writing my dissertation. I honestly probably would not be where I am without him, and I am so thankful for having had him in my life while I was at Lehigh. He was just such an amazing and entertaining professor and an inspiration. I will repeat what Sunny Bavaro has said. I shine brighter because of him, and now I will work to shine a little brighter in tribute to him.
I'm incredibly saddened by this news. There is no way I would see, read, or teach the ways I do were it not for the influence of Alex's gentle stewardship, his intelligence, his warmth, and his wicked humor. I will be forever grateful for his inspiration and I will miss him dearly.
what horrible news, and what a terrible loss for his family, friends, colleagues - and the entire IU community. he was such a gracious colleague. my thoughts are with his family, and with everyone at CMCL.
Just learning of this tragic event. Such a great loss. I knew Alex as a marvelous casual inspiring professional colleague. Personal aside: will always be grateful for his alerting us (at an SCMS dinner) that tickets were available for Rufus Wainwright's tribute to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall! RIP, Alex...
Though we grieve, and the world will miss Alex, I take great comfort in the fact that he lives on in all of us who he has inspired in his teaching, scholarship, and friendship. And we will pass a bit of Alex on to those we meet. Rest in peace, Alex, and thank you for your inspiration.
I knew Alex first through his work, which inspired so many of us, and then through my spottings of him at SCMS, and what did I see first--the elegant way he wore his height or the dapper way he wore his clothes? My first real conversation with Alex was at a wonderful dinner a group of us shared (at some conference 12-13 years ago) where we all talked about how watching old movies on tv when we were kids led us to cinema studies--I remember he talked about how he used to pore over the weekly tv listings to see what movies were on the late show. How many of us are what we are because of those desires for movies--and how beautifully Alex expressed those desires in his work and friendships!
I was lucky enough to have Alex as a colleague at Lehigh, when I first got here and for not long enough. His work was absolutely inspiring and shaped where my career has gone (Thanks for you work on Psycho, Alex!). He was deadly funny and unbelievably kind, went far out of his way for those he cared for, and he will be very very missed.
Tragic, heartbreaking, for his family, friends, and our field. I am frankly at a loss...
I am so stunned and saddened. What a dear, dear man--a truly inspirational colleague with whom I shared taste in movies and many excited conversations about them. My deepest sympathies for his family, loved ones and UI colleagues--
the shock of this is so raw. my heart goes out to Alex's families and his many, many friends.
Remembering Nina at the Beacon, NYC, with Alex (in 2000?). She was fabulously bitchy that night, and if Alex is reading Facebook right now, he's shaking a feather duster at us and saying "I'll TAKE that applause!"
Alex's work was pathbreaking, making it possible to do queer readings in film studies and opening the door for future scholars. I only met him a couple of times, but it was clear that he didn't channel the divadom he so adored. Rather, I had the strong impression that he was a kind mentor and generous person.
Rebecca Lynn Willoughby
It is so terrible to learn of the loss of a brilliant mind, a challenging mentor, and someone who fundamentally changed the way I think and teach. I can only hope to do him justice by helping my students see things in the way he helped me to see them. My sincere condolences to his friends, family, and colleagues-- of which I know there are so many.
Alex was out there before anyone else. He was using the word "queer" when straight colleagues snickered at his ideas. My fondest memory of Alex was a personal one--watching his tapes of SCTV comedy in Ithaca in 1990. There was a sketch called "White scat singing" in which a busload of fundies sang numbers like "Zippidiedooda." We laughed so hard, I don't think I've ever laughed harder. I remember it to this day.
Crushed. Inarticulately heartbroken.
James Martin Moran
What a shock. I remember spending a fun Consoling Passions conference with him in Tucson. So charming, and a great conversationalist
Here's to you, Prof. Doty
I only met Alex last year, during his visit to Texas A&M for a wonderful lecture he gave. I am sad to learn this. He was a terrific guy.
Alex was such a sweet person. I'm thinking especially of his family and close friends.
Mark Lynn Anderson
You were someone who changed my entire way of thinking. I owe you so much. Thank you.
This is really devastating---Alex had a big heart and when I was a grad student trying to write a queer film dissertation he was very encouraging--which meant a lot. I know there are many of us out there who felt that way.
I took Queer Film Theory with Alex Doty in my first semester of grad school. That class changed my thinking about so many things. He will always inform my scholarship, teaching and world view.
The highlight of our fall semester last year in the Film Studies Program at A&M was Alex's visit. Everyone loved his wonderful lecture.
i walked by his house at least twice everyday, because we live on the same street, a mere few blocks away from each other. i would often run into him on my way to school, so would be lucky enough to start my day with his beautiful smile and friendly waving at me. then, sometimes, i would run into him again in the department, then at rachaels or in that alley between rachaels and soma. if none of this happened, i would briefly peek at his house while walking by to see if i could catch a sight of him. i would often think this was somewhat inappropriate, but would later try to convince myself he'd have appreciated my momentary curiosities a la Jefferies from rear window. he left a big hole in my heart and my everyday existence. i miss him in a way i can't express through language.
Alex was incredibly generous with his time, enthusiasm, and love for queer art forms. I was never lucky to take his seminars, but when I started a project about Doris Day's Calamity Jane, he was so excited about helping me get some footing. During that project, I turned to his work, and was absolutely enamored by his persistence and commitment to the art of queer world making. He is certainly a scholar that I admire. And I will miss the friendly chats & hellos at Rachel's, E's, Bloomington Pride & our department hallways.
Alex was the first person to reach out to me at IU and his immediate kindness and generosity sealed the deal for me pretty quickly. I still remember his first email to me -- he both tried to convince me that Indiana was a great “liberal pocket” while telling me he only had time to write a short email because he had to dig his house out of the snow. This was both reassuring and terrifying for a California boy. I’ve never been pushed so hard nor enjoyed my academic experience as much as I did in the short year I had getting to know Alex; he has had a huge impact on me and I’ll love and miss him for that.
My guys--Alex, Mike, Corey. What will we do without Alex?
I never got to meet Alex Doty, but his work has inspired and influenced mine for twenty years. I send deepest condolences to his friends and family. Clearly, he lives on in the love and knowledge that he shared with so many.
I feel honored to have been able to take two of Alex's graduate classes at IU (on Hitchcock and melodrama) and to teach his work to my own students. He contributed an essay to my collection on Nicholas Ray. His influence on my critical thinking has been immeasurable -- ideas about gender, sexuality, stardom, authorship, Hollywood genres -- and I can't imagine grad. school (or CMCL) without his presence. Rest in peace.
Funny story: About 2 years ago, right around Little 500 weekend in Bloomington, Alex was walking around town (I think on Atwater) and some rowdies in a car careened by him, yelling "Happy Old Man Day!" Relating the story later that day, Alex was incensed ("I'm incensed, incensed I tell you!"). But from that time on, he would from time to time walk into our house, calling out from the front door: "Hey! Happy Old Man Day!"
At my job talk at Lehigh in 1995, he asked me a question that transformed my reading of a 14th c. poem. Talk about scholarly reach!
My academic work would not have been the same without Making Things Perfectly Queer and Flaming Classics. I will never see Laverne and Shirley or The Wizard of Oz the same way again. And, I feel so lucky to have just heard his talk on 21st Century Beefcake at Console-ing Passions just a couple weeks ago. It's hard to imagine queer media without Alex.
I wish I knew what to say beyond this isn't fair--Alex didn't deserve this. I am so grateful for the time I knew him; for the Mardi Gras we spent together; for everything he taught me. The world will be a lesser place without him.
was lucky enough to work with Alex Doty on my dissertation and take several classes with him. He was brilliant, funny, and passionate about his work. He's helped to shape who I want to be as a teacher, a writer, and a feminist. Feeling absoultely heartbroken that he's passed away. My condolences to all of his friends and family.
Long, long time ago (1991 to be exact) when SCMS was at USC, I was delivering my first conference paper along with three other newbies-it was a queer-themed panel on queer European "art films" (Pasolini, Visconti, etc.). We were all very, very nervous (especially about the Q & A part). When we asked if there were any questions, a certain audience member stood up and went on a diatribe totally unrelated to our panel about how we shouldn't be having this conference at USC because the institutional exploits the surrounding communities, etc., etc. Alex must have saw the confused, WTF? looks on all of our faces--he very calmly and diplomatically asked the person to put her thoughts in writing and he would be glad to share them with the powers that be. Cory Creekmur seconded it. And then Alex said, "Now, let's go back to our panelists." That was the day I became an Alex Doty fan. And it taught me that that cinema studies, despite how some people act, isn't a competition--and how it is so important for the younger queer scholars to know they have our support. I have tried to pass it on whenever someone knew in the field contacts me an asks for my support and help.
He was also the first out, working, living-queer I ever knew. This was a big deal as a young dyke coming to college from a small town. He made me realize, for the very first time, that I could live a full, happy and glorious gaygay intellectual everyday life. And that, maybe, it was my duty to do so.
What heartbreaking news! The memories and tributes on this site have triggered a flood of memories in me of Alex's generosity, warmth, humor and style. I've long taught "There's Something Queer Here" as a model of the kind of scholarship that inspires me. We are lucky we still have Alex's beautiful, brilliant work to continue to inspire us and our students.
I am sitting here today watching Vito Russo and Our Time and thinking about the legacy of queer/LGBT politics, film, and theory and I am humbled thinking about the importance of trailblazers like Dr. Doty and others. R.I.P. prof.
Alex's work has inspired me so much. When I was in graduate school, there were so many times when I would start to write about something or someone, only to realize that Alex had already written about the topic, brilliantly. His work introduced me to queer media studies, and his clear passion for his subjects and joy in writing about them always struck me as the best part of being a scholar. Even though I only met Alex once in person, in the elevator at the last SCMS in Boston, I have always regarded him as a model and teacher and queer ally. I'm so glad now that I had the opportunity to tell him--however briefly--how much his work has meant to me over the years, and I'm very sad I will never have the privilege of knowing him better.
I am so sorry, everybody.
Pamela Robertson Wojcik
I am still in shock. I keep seeing his smile and hearing his laugh. He was always so warm and witty, nicely conspiratorial in his humor. He was a model for all of us, in his teaching, his ability to be a showman, his generosity, his smarts. I can't imagine not seeing him again. I am sorry for all who knew him. This is a tremendous loss for so many people.
This is actually Suzanna Walters posting - from my daughter's facebook since i don't have one...I am devastated along with the rest of you. I hired Alex when i was chair of Gender Studies at IU - after having been a fan of his work for years. We became fast friends and i will miss him terribly. My non-IU friends knew i referred to him as my "film man" - we regularly went to movies together - arguing from beginning (what to see?) to end (how to interpret?) always well lubricated with girly/gay drinks and arcane film references that would have driven others crazy but made us giggle hysterically together. To say he was a pioneer in the field is an understatement: he really did make enormous contributions to such a wide range of queer/media/feminist pursuits - and always with such a generous and kind tenor...he was a rare bird indeed. And he was as generous a friend as he was a scholar. Damn. what a loss.
Alex was my first department chair when I joined the English Department at Lehigh. He listened to every question. He took me to lunch. He shepherded me through every grant application, every annual review, every infuriating Professional Activity Report. He told me stories about his childhood and made me laugh. I missed him when he left Lehigh for bigger and better things. I miss him so much more now.
Hello friends, this is Lane Booker, via my boyfriends fb page. I, like Alex, am a bit of a Luddite, and deleted my Facebook months ago. I have so many thoughts I'd like to share, but right now I'll just say how heartbroken I am over this, and how much I'll miss you Alex!
Thank you, Alex, for everything.
The thing about Alex that always amazed me was his capacity to understand and continue to feel affection for people who hurt him. He simply did not hold a grudge. I don't know if it was forgiveness or self-protection, but it was extraordinary.
I can not picture Alex not smiling, though I certainly remember moments when he must not have been. He was so funny, shy, wise (in all senses of the word), tall, and kind; he could write beautiful sentences; and he took simple joy in so many things. He taught me a lot of different things. I regret for him all the many desserts he passed up when he was trying to control his cholesterol some years ago. He was a good friend, even when I wasn't.
Ina Rae Hark
I join with all Alex's family, friends, students, colleagues and readers in mourning the terrible loss of this brilliant, witty gentleman and scholar.
Thanks to Alex's writing and teaching, everyone now gets to read films a little more queerly. I can't think of a more fitting tribute than: one that does not end.
Even before Making Things Perfectly Queer was published I already admired Alex for his taste in shoes. So stylish, as was he in every respect.
One of my first parties with Alex was one where we were all required to bring a clip of our favorite musical number. This was the one Alex brought. (I know he was brilliant but this one hardly required his keen insight.) There was some dancing, singing, and mimicry, until the 5-year-old of the house was too embarrassed and put a stop to it.
I will miss his kindness, his extraordinary wit (which could be both wicked and quite gentle), and his generosity of spirit. I take from him many lessons, but the one I think of the most tonight is to seize the opportunity to see the show, because it may be gone all too soon.
I did not know Alex personally until he joined us for a symposium at Illinois in Feb. 2009 where he was immediately charming and felt like an old friend. We are glad--in a bittersweet way--that his work will appear in February when the collection comes out. The symposium and book would not have been the same without him.
Alex, Kay Kalinak and I were cohorts in the first group of film 'dissertators' at the U of I. I haven't seen Alex in years but I think of him often; I was his 'replacement' in Cairo when he left the American University there to return to the States. I learned after about 2 days that there was no 'replacing' Alex--everyone he met in Egypt loved him for his wit, his charm, his brilliance. I stayed in Cairo much longer than Alex but I never would have made it past 6 months without his advice and example. He taught me how to navigate Midan Tahrir long before it became the epicenter of a revolution; he taught me how to haggle for the best half dozen mangos; there was no one quite like Alex for pithy advice on life and love. The world will miss you Alex, ya walid, ya bey!
I didn't know Alex well or nearly long enough, but he left such an impression on me. Most importantly he was part of the large and hilarious group of smart people who welcomed me to Lehigh and made me feel at home. He was there for my introduction to bitchy bingo. He was the department chair I most looked forward to working with. He was kind and smart and funny and compassionate, and did I mention smart? and funny?
One of my favorite memories of Alex--and there are so many!--was the theme dinner we planned to hold at the end of class. We all were obligated to come in costume as one of our favorite characters from one of the films we watched in the Melodrama course. Alex came dressed as Stella Dallas wearing his "stacks of style." He wore his "stacks of style" in a way that put Stella to shame.
Alex spent my honeymoon with me. And he isn't my husband. He and (the actual husband) Corey once picked me up and left me in a hedge when I tried to convince them we were in a musical Ethel Merman style. One year in grad school when we organized Thanksgiving together for a crowd, he developed such a close (and hilarious) relationship with the frozen turkey after bathing it for days that he almost refused to cook it. It's so bewildering to feel so sad about someone I associate with wicked, sometimes maddening, always helpless laughter-inducing joy.
Downing martinis with Alex at THE Stonewall in Manhattan was one of the great thrills of my Lehigh grad-student days. Almost as good as hearing his running commentaries on the movies John Waters made before Ricki Lake and Johnny Depp. He was super fun, and he was a kind and generous professor to boot. I'll be seeing movies perfectly queerly for the rest of my life because of everything he taught me.
Taylor Cole Miller
Although I did not know him personally (we had interacted via email a few times, and he was very supportive of my thesis project), I almost always jumped at the chance to present his articles in class. Texas is big on discussion guides, and I always like to include a photo of the scholar. I could never find a photo of him, and so the first time I made a guide, I instead substituted a photo of Gene Kelley's butt (of which he was fond). I feel some confidence he would have been OK with that.
Kathleen A. Ferraro
I am reminded of a conversation we had in Ithaca about his vision of gay men and lesbians’ retirement arrangements: While women plan old dykes homes, men look forward to a “Golden Girls” arrangement. So I imagine him in a caftan dishing with Estelle, Bea, and Rue, keeping Betty White’s chair warm.
There are no words in the face of tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to Alex's family and friends.
Alex was responsible for the two most fun (and scary) experiences I had in grad school. I was working on my master’s thesis with him on a documentary about the porn industry. I had just wanted to concentrate on class bias in the film, but Alex thought I should find out what was new in the porn industry. I was too shy to tell him that I didn’t know what was old in it. He recommended emailing all the grad students and faculty and asking for any porn they happened to own. I’m still not sure whether he was entirely serious, but that is exactly what I did. Not surprisingly, only one person obliged. I thought that would be the end of that, but a few days later, following Alex’s suggestion, I was hobbling into all the adult video stores in Bethlehem—I was on crutches because of a sprained ankle—with fellow students Anthony Bleach and Stephen doCarmo in tow for “moral support.” Thanks to Alex, my parents, who had sent their daughter to the US to study Jane Austen, had a thesis on the porn industry dedicated to them. Thank you for the fun, Alex, and a very American education.
This is a terrible loss to scholarship. Alex was of the first scholars I heard who talked about queer theory in a presentation at NYU in the nineties. His work and his infectious wit have stayed with me...
I knew Alex first through his scholarship -- so insightful, exacting, bold and fun. I was, of course, in awe of the work. Later, working on a project that included Alex, I was blessed to discover that the generosity and compassion in his work was a direct reflection of his own character. What a loss, but what a joy to have known Alex, even briefly...
Learned of this sad news as I sat with my one year old niece. Sad. It's all so fragile. Such a loss. Of an amazingly generous colleague, scholar, just plain human being. My heart goes out to all he considered - and considered him - family, friend, colleague.
Alex was a great teacher—in the classroom, through his scholarship, and by the example he set. I was never lucky enough to take a class with him, but I remember well his intelligence, his kindness, and his wit. Much love to all who miss him now.
I am so sad to hear this news. Alex was such a presence -- brilliant, sought-after, well-respected, and funny. I am sorry I didn't have the chance to take a class with him, but I know how hugely he influenced those who did. Hearing you all talk about it makes me more than a little jealous, and just heartsick over this loss.
Big bowls of cereal, Splenda, high-end sipping tequila . . .
Mary Celeste Kearney
Sadly, I never got to interact with Alex much at length, but how I wish I had based on all the wonderful memories shared here. Alex's work has been crucial to my thinking about queerness and queer media culture, and I teach it every semester. My heart goes out to all his friends and family members.
This is very sad...
Nguyen Tan Hoang
I remember avidly reading Making Things Perfectly Queer during my lunch breaks at a hideous factory job I held right after graduating as an art his major from UC Santa Cruz. It made me want to pursue a grad degree in film studies.
I've always known Alex as a generous, loving, and unselfish colleague and friend. But reading these tributes, I am feeling in a new way the force of his courage, his imagination, his sharp political insights, and his willingness-always-to speak out on behalf of his commitments. I admire Alex deeply for the way he stayed true to himself, and I am so grateful to have had such a friend who persistently encouraged me to keep faith with my own desire, my own deepest longings, and find ways to enjoy my own pleasures, even during the darkest, most difficult times.
Anne Helen Petersen
Alexander Doty taught me that "queer" was something that applied to heterosexual people as well. For this small town girl from Idaho, still in her first year of her MA (with Kathleen Karlyn), this was a sublime revelation.
When I was the editor of Flow, I emailed to ask if he would maybe, possibly, in a billion years think of writing for the journal. He wrote one of the most enthusiastic replies that I ever received (couldn't then, but would LOVE to later) and when I recorded down his response in the spreadsheet, I followed it with a billion exclamation points.
I will teach his work for the rest of my career. We've lost a profound, revelatory voice.
I am still so saddened by this news and still can not believe it. I always regretted never having taken one of his courses before he left Lehigh. I will always remember though how he was such a great presence in the room and how his smile always brightens the spirit of everyone around him. My heart and prayers go out to all of us who mourn him but especially to his family, close friends, and loved ones.
I've been reading these posts for two days now, trying to absorb what's happened and figure out what to write. While I didn't have a chance to take a course with Alex during my time at Lehigh, I saw firsthand the transformative effects he had on my fellow grad students. The testimonials here so eloquently convey these transformations and about the only thing I know for sure at this moment is that my greatest wish as a teacher is to inspire my students with even a tiny degree of Alex's profound influence.
I can't imagine a world without him. We've been friends for over 30 years. What a prince of a human being.
When Don Belton was tragically murdered, a few of us in those first few hours were growing desperate to control the message--- a message that very quickly was spinning out of control into half truth, homophobia, and racism. When we held an emergency planning meeting, Alex was one of the handful of people who were right out in front. He lived through AIDS, was a Act-Upper: he got it. It did not matter how little he knew Don, only that Don deserved better. He knew how to organize a vigil, talk to media, gather the community, get the word out. I will never forget his devotion to someone he barely knew. This is the man I will remember. Well, that and the guy in the black leather jacket who had a gourmet kitchen he didn't really care to use who once sang the songs from Grey Gardens with me: "I decided to come out a kimono. Mother and I had quite a fight."
The postings here have truly been revealing--and a reflection--of Alex's contribution to gay film studies.
Another Alex story: after having secured great seats for a Pet Shop Boys show in NYC, Alex was annoyed by the woman in front of him who kept standing up and blocking his view. "Hey lady, down in front!!" he yelled, just before he gazed into the face of Liza Minnelli, spinning around to glare at him.
My earliest memory of Alex: he was already an experienced teacher when I was nervous about teaching Intro to Film for the first time as a graduate student at the University of Illinois. Near the end of the class screening of a 16mm print (this was pre-video, kids) of BICYCLE THIEVES, the students in the library basement auditorium, sensing that the film was almost over, started to put on their coats, grab their backpacks, and bolt. Alex, at the back of the room with tears streaming down his face, started yelling "Sit down! The film isn't over! SIT DOWN! What kind of monsters are you?!?" I could have hugged him. Later, fortunately, I would.
Reading Making Things Perfectly Queer was one of the things that made me not only want to, but feel like I could, go back to school for a degree in film studies. I felt validated by that book--like maybe I, too, had something to say that was worthwhile. I didn't know Alex as well as I would have liked, and reading all these wonderful words about him makes me regret that all the more.
Alex, along with Mary Gray, was the first person I met when I moved to Bloomington as a postdoc in 2009. I was very excited to meet the author of "Making Things Perfectly Queer." I had just arrived in town and not knowing summer bus timetables, was terribly late to meet them. But Alex was totally forgiving. He just smiled wide and so did Mary, and then we were all chatting like we'd known each other forever. Perhaps to convince me of the queer-friendliness of Bloomington, or just to declare what was, he regaled me with tales of Uncle E's. We made immediate plans to check out "Beef and Broads", the night at E's when pole dancers alternated with drag shows. When Alex and Mary actually took me to E's -- not for Beef and Broads -- we had a hilarious conversation about the correct way to tip Indiana drag queens: flirtatiously, coyly, or deadpan. I will also always remember the time Alex, Susan Stryker and I went to some trashy horror movie at Landmark 10. Someone in front of us started talking during a key suspenseful scene. "Shut up!" Alex yelled. "Don't you know people are trying to watch the movie?" From that moment, I was convinced that Alex was a born New Yorker (I didn't know he grew up in Texas!) Alex was so generous, fun, and so sharp-witted. I didn't know him well, but he touched my life. I wish I could come to Uncle E's and share a cocktail with everyone -- this makes me miss Bloomington so. Take care all.
Reading everyone's heartfelt tributes these past few days, I've been trying to come up with a memory of my own that might serve as a measure of the fabulousness that was Alex but I keep coming up short. Sure, there are some fun anecdotes--chasing a poor unnerved woman down a Manhattan backstreet thinking she was Carol Burnett or Alex entertaining a boatload of Japanese tourists on a crocodile safari cruise in Australia with his best Katharine Hepburn "African Queen" impressions spring to mind--but nothing quite captures the magic of his essence and I guess that's because what I'm left with, and what we all mourn, is the whole lovable package that was Alex. He was the real deal: funny, bright, caring and a genuinely decent human being. The world will be just that little less wondrous without him.
Can't stop thinking about the wonderful friend we had in Alex. Particularly about this time last year. Mary and I had just returned to Bloomington after six months away. My garden was an overgrown mess but I struggled to work in it because of health issues. Despite the 90-degree heat, Alex insisted on coming over to weed it for me. Although Mary Gray and I both attacked it with him, we wilted after an hour or so. Yet, no matter how much I cajoled or how many iced coffees and raisin-oatmeal cookies I brought him, Alex refused to come inside until he pulled every last weed. He stooped in the blazing sun and weeded my garden for 5 hours that day.
Before I really even knew Alex, I benefitted from his generosity. When he heard Elizabeth and I were planning to celebrate my 50th birthday in NYC, he offered to help us book show tickets. He spent 2 hours with us online, booking operas and broadway shows for us, all the while giving us inside tips from his extensive experience: "you don't want to sit closer than the tenth row for Dame Edna, or you'll become part of her act!". We were grateful for this advice, as well as his wonderful sense of humor. He was also one of the most humble people I have ever met, a rare quality generally, but even more so in an academic. We mourn his death with the the rest of his friends and family
Pumpkin anything. Alex loved pumpkin anything: pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin ice-cream (whether Brusters', Jiffy Treat, or Chocolate Moose), pumpkin lattes in the fall. He bought a blender so he could make his own pumpkin smoothies--after first having a one at my house--and then decided that he couldn't quite get the recipe to taste right. So he just came over to my house whenever the pumpkin-smoothie urge hit.
Just returned to my San Francisco home after being away on my own before-the-semester-really-starts vacation. I last saw Alex here in my back yard, when he stopped by my 50th birthday party. The memories came flooding back. The year before he'd come for a visit as well, and we spent several glorious days paying pilgrimages to Hitchcock movie locations throughout the north bay, eating oysters at Tomales Bay, staying at Kim's folk's place in the wine country. I'll find the photos and post some of them here.
Saw Alex recently at Console-ing Passions, and got the news of his death yesterday, in an airport. Does not compute, but this site (and Corey's tribute at Flow) do help. If you've been edited by Alex, you know much fun it is and how much brighter your work becomes. He brought such a light touch to what could be scathing in someone else's hands. I didn't know him intimately but I lit up inside every time I saw him--a fan's crush. I'm struck by Jane Feuer's remark that he wrote about queering at a time when colleagues snickered, and now we can't think without it. He was patient about career recognition in a trade that doesn't make it easy. I tried to get tickets to the Public Theater performance of Mother Courage (with Streep) that Alex was going to, but, élas, there were none left. He offered condolences and a blow-by-blow. A mensch.
I'm having a really hard time this afternoon. Everywhere I look, I find things that remind me of Alex: driving down Kirkwood Ave, I remember a coffee and "little treats" we had at Blue Boy; walking by the Buskirk Chum, brings to mind the silly cat calls and out of tune warbling from last January's Sing Along Sound of Music (our SECOND); seeing an online ad for the Waldron reminds me of our excellent seats for the Cardinal Stage (fab) production of the Grapes of Wrath. I can't even bring myself to drive or walk by Rachel's Cafe. And we had planned, before he left for Bermuda, to have dinner tonight.
It helps to come here and read all these amazing tributes, even though I can recite some of them by heart.
I wanted everyone that has posted and all his friends to know what this site has meant to his family. I am one of his sisters Barbara who had the great honor of being with him at the end of his life and bringing him home. You have made us all realize how happy his was And what great friends he had. Thank you
OK, let me recover a few minutes having just found out Alex's death.....thank you Corey for sending me to this site.
Alex Doty was one of the most wonderfully irascible intellectuals I have known in media studies. He gave me hell for a number of my blind assumptions about gender and sexual preference and helped me be a better thinker and writer. I remember when I edited his piece on THE WIZARD OF OZ for the anthology HOP ON POP and the editors wanted to me to question some of his assertions about the film's implicit queer message. Perhaps the film was to close to my heterosexual childhood for me to see his argument. But Alex refused to back down and let me know lovingly how blindly stupid I was. We published it without a change. Since then I cannot count the number of students at Emerson College who have felt the wallop and comfort of Alex's very smart reading of this "childhood" film.
I will miss his loving hugs and contagiously catty laughter at conferences.
His emotional depth was so powerful.
Hearing this song this morning in the car, I thought of Alex once again. I don't know if he ever heard it or even liked this band, but it reminds me of him so much.
The following announcement from the Department of English at Lehigh University will be circulated to the Lehigh community later today:
The Lehigh University Department of English mourns the death of our friend, colleague, and leader Alexander Doty. Alex was struck by a motorcycle while vacationing in Bermuda and died on Sunday, August 5, 2012, from injuries sustained in that accident. He was 58 years old.
Alex arrived at Lehigh in 1986 and left for Indiana University—“more of an ‘au revoir,’” he told us, “than a ‘goodbye’”—in 2008. For more than two decades, we were blessed to have Alex in our midst. His powerful intellect, charisma, wit, and good sense benefited the department and cheered his colleagues on a daily basis.
Alex was a superb and popular teacher; a prolific and provocative scholar; and a dedicated citizen of Lehigh University. He taught courses on film, television, and popular culture, as well as on American literature and in writing; his 2001 graduate seminar “The Medieval and the Monstrous,” co-taught with Professor Patty Ingham, soon attained legendary status. While a member of our faculty, Alex established his reputation as a leading scholar of queer theory and popular culture. He published nearly two dozen articles and two influential books, *Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture* (1993) and *Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon* (2000), and he also edited *Out in Culture: Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Essays on Film and Popular Culture* (1995, with Corey Creekmur) and two special issues of *Camera Obscura* (2007, 2008). Alex served for many years as the director of our Graduate Program and, from 2004-2007, chaired the Department of English.
Alex leaves behind a mother, Rosanna Doty, in El Paso, Texas, two sisters, Barbara Braudaway and Maria Holmes, and two brothers, Arthur and Robert Doty. He leaves as well a large group of colleagues and friends around the world, who, like those of us in the Department of English, are shocked and saddened by his death.
Colleen Lutz Clemens
I remember Alex commending any grad student who DIDN'T use a colon in a conference paper. He lauded them at the end of the year grad celebration at the Humanities Center.
He did the funniest intros of new faculty at my first ever meeting at Lehigh: astrological sign, favorite musician (I still remember that Kate Crassons likes Nancy Griffith), favorite food. I remember thinking, "I am so lucky to be here" thanks to his wit. He made me feel welcome and important.
Alex was elegant in movement and speech. He discussed the elegance of Conrad Veidt in Flaming Classics, and I saw the same thing in Alex he saw in Veidt. I mentioned that to him once, and of course Alex wouldn't let himself be flattered too much, but he got it and thanked me. He understood why I would find similarities in the two. Behold Veidt's European grace in Casablanca. That reminds me of Alex. Whenever I screen a film with Veidt in it, I think of Alex. He taught me to be cautious of the caustic comment. Being funny is tricky, but he managed it. He was a great gentleman.
I'm late in writing, but as Alex's first mentee at SCMS, I want to reiterate all the wonderful things that have been expressed about him thus far. He was a warm, personable, and funny man. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor, and he will definitely be missed.
I knew Alex primarily as my dept chair at Indiana, and was just beginning to get a sense of the humor, quirkiness and humanity that he was bringing to the dept. Though I did not have a deep or long relationship with Alex, I too am having phantom Alex sightings (not to mention daily tears). My heart goes out to those of you who were close to him. Thank you for sharing your memories.
I was humbled when the one and only Alex Doty presented me with the Cheesy, Sleazy Glitz Award at UofI's "Can Film Festival" for the Super8 beauties from the Film ProSem. And I thrilled to his each and every intonation of "CAN."
I have so many fond memories of time spent with Alex over the years I knew him - many occasions spent wandering the Village together, perusing shops of old photographs of movie stars, him telling me tales of their personal lives and dramas (most interestingly the closeted ones), and buying vintage clothes. He was hard to shop for since he had such long arms, so he usually wound up finding the best clothes that fit me, he was always looking out as much for others as for himself. He had such a great eye. I remember numerous camping trips we took in upstate NY or PA, in particular one in which we pitched our tent and cooked a meal together, and spent hours on a blanket looking up at the stars, drinking Wild Turkey (his fave, until Bombay Saphire took over - I guess they should call it Mumbai Saphire now?). There was a particularly noisy bunch of youth a couple sites down, with an RV and a big fire, they were hammering away on guitars singing old whitebread rock classics, I remember saying to him, 'God help us, they're going to start singing Brown Eyed Girl next' and that's exactly what happened. We had a hearty rigole over that one for a good while. Then later that night, a bold raccoon just waltzed up to Alex's napsack and was noisily rifling through it, and Alex yelled out to it, "Get out of there, you rooting hussy!" Another line that sent me into hysterics, and it became a tag line thereafter for anyone boldly or inconsiderately going where they shouldn't. When I was living in Bethlehem in the late 90s early 00s, we would often get take-out Indian food and go back to his place and watch either one of the thousands of VCR films he had stacked two deep, floor to ceiling in his apartment, or rent some offbeat film from Schlockbuster (as he liked to call it). One of our favorites was the MST3000 (Mystery Science Theater 3000) series, which spoofed, by means of overdub, old B movies from the 50s - 60s. One of our favorites was Martians Kidnap Santa at the North Pole. Unbefreakinglievable, it had us rolling. Occasionally we would go to a gay bar in Allentown and hit the dance floor for a little while. I remember loving how he danced, very unassuming, and un-self-conscious, just soaking in the joy and that great sexy energy of the music. In one such moment, I recall him bringing tears to my eyes with appreciation. Not before or since was I with a man who I could admire as that beautiful, that comfortable in his skin, that radiantly and exquisitely himself and available to me and the world. He wasn't always an outpouring of love and joy of course, but even in his annoyances or frustration, he just never took himself or anyone else too seriously. There was simply an authenticity and transparency to his being that was easeful and effortless to be with, irresistable in his honesty and unpretentiousness. After my first semester of graduate studies in architecture at Yale he came up to visit, and we got snowed in for a couple of days in my dorm - I remember watching a tribute to Bob Dylan one evening with him and us being amused by how much everyone on stage sounded so much better than Bob himself (and how Bob sounded like a three-pack-a-day toad). When the highway was clear, we took a trip to NYC and caught Elvin Jones at a club in the 30s somewhere, and I remember the city was practically deserted with so much snow on the ground, there were only a handful of people in the club. Returning to his friend's apartment in Brooklyn where we occasionally stayed, the almost empty, quiet snow-covered city was eerie and magical. We would always have the same breakfast - hazlenut coffee and bagels and cream cheese. We shared an appreciation of jazz (especially Ella), Pee Wee Herman, South Park, Frankenstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, and of course independent film, but he was very much the leader in that one, obviously. I relished his readings of film, always looked forward to his take on the latest productions. And I was always taken by how much he appreciated my uneducated opinions in light of the fact that it was his life's work, he would listen to all sorts of folks' opinions with total receptivity. What a great teacher he was in that regard. And speaking of Pee Wee Herman, I had recently come across this overdub of the Batman trailer with Pee Wee's voice (linked), which I was about to share with him, but unfortunately, too late. I know he would have found it hilarious. Thank you for reading this personal sharing of mine. I know probably most of you knew Alex professionally, but to know him at all was to know him personally, since he let nothing stand in the way of an authentic human connection with the receptive. I hope this isn't too revealing, Alex, but I wanted to share some of what I found most wonderful about our connection for you to know some stories of his adventures.
After the last two+ busy weeks of making sure the new cohort of graduate students is ready to go, and taking care of the many little pop-up fires that always accompany the beginning of the academic year, I've finally had time to work on the Remembering Alex website. It's turned out to be much more emotional than I expected.
I keep thinking about the last time we talked. I had rearranged my office and he told me we really should tackle a remodel of the CMCL seminar room. He was positively rubbing his hands with anticipation of such a fun (and potentially feather-ruffling) project.
The next thing I knew, I was receiving a phone call from my counterpart in Gender Studies who had just gotten off the phone with Alex' brother.
So sad...I miss you, Alex.
I had the pleasure of sharing the "mass culture" fellowship year with Alex in 1990-91 where Alex inspired an amazing group of scholars in residence at Cornell that year: Laura Mulvey, Simon Frith, Karal Ann Marling, Rachel Bowlby, Jane Feuer, William Gibson, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Constance Penley, Thomas Ross, David Bathrick, Noel Carroll, Marilyn Miguel, Jonathan Ngate, and Mark Seltzer. Some of us have been trading notes and all share the same vivid memory of Alex's glee when he ordered the new "Jeff Stryker Model" for the Society seminar room! He taught us always to bring glee and desire to our thinking.
News Articles and Press Releases
IU News Room
IU mourns the passing of faculty member Alex Doty
University of Minnesota Press
Pioneering queer studies scholar Alexander Doty dies after being struck by motorcycle
Facebook tributes pour in for professor
The Royal Gazetteonline
Tributes to 'outstanding scholar and teacher'
Society for Cinema & Media Studies
SCMS Tribute to Alexander Doty
Remembering Alexander Doty
A Star Was Born: The Inspiring Life and Work of Alexander Doty
Film Studies for Free
The Beautiful Wickedness of Queer Reading: In Memory of Alexander Doty
Society for the Humanites
SHC Mourns Alex Doty
A Glee Vid in Memory of Alex Dot