Daniel McCarthy

BM (magna cum laude), Catholic University of America. MM, Boston University. Performer’s Diploma, Southern Methodist University. DMA, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. McCarthy’s interdisciplinary scholarship draws upon their experiences as both a classically-trained musician and a scholar of feminist, queer, and transgender thought. Recent publications include their essay, “Queering Abuelita: Reconciling Loss Through the Speculative,” published in the Winter 2022 issue of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. McCarthy’s versatile music career includes collaborations with members of the Borromeo, Emerson, Escher, and Miró quartets and performances in venues such as the National Arts Centre (Ottawa, Canada), Harpa (Reykjavík, Iceland), Theresienstadt (Czech Republic), the Embassy of Austria, the residences of the ambassadors to Romania and Portugal, and the White House. Before arriving at Sarah Lawrence College, McCarthy taught in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Institute for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. SLC 2023–

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

Absences of the Archive: Queer Perspectives

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall

Sifting through the documents of an archive, you find that the trail has ended. Despite one’s best efforts, it seems that there are no answers to be found, no data to be studied, and no leads to pursue. At such a juncture, there are several possibilities for the next steps—including reconceptualizing one’s research questions, locating a new archive, or searching for related material. What would happen, however, if the absence in the archive were seen as a site of potentiality? What kinds of questions might emerge if we investigate not only the absence itself but why there is an absence? In this course, we will use texts from queer studies, women-of-color feminisms, and affect theory to unpack such omissions. We will look at examples of frustrated researchers and historians who refused to accept the archive as complete. Drawing upon their emerging methodologies, we will reconceptualize the archive alongside and against questions of objectivity in research and the politics of archiving. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which queer and minoritized populations evade the surveillance of archival practices. In conference work, students will develop research questions and apply new approaches to the archive in their own archival investigations.


Brown Feeling(s): Situating the Work of José Esteban Muñoz

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring

José Esteban Muñoz (1967-2013) was an author, professor, and alumnus of Sarah Lawrence College (class of 1989). As a theorist working at the intersections of Latinx studies, queer theory, performance studies, and affect theory, his scholarship serves as a foundation for what is now known as queer-of-color critique. Muñoz challenged norms of queer theory that failed to account for intersectionality and the lives of racially-minoritized communities. His writing draws upon examples from film, TV, music, performance art, and theatre to describe survival strategies, kinship formations, and the pursuit of utopia by queers of color. In this course, we will read Muñoz’s works in the context of a lineage of queer-of-color scholars. Texts will include “Ephemera as Evidence” (1996), Disidentifications (1999), “Feeling Brown, Feeling Down” (2006), Cruising Utopia (2009), and The Sense of Brown (2020, published posthumously). Additionally, we will immerse ourselves in the theoretical material of Muñoz’s inquiry by watching the films, listening to the music, and viewing the art that inspired his works. Lastly, we will investigate the ways in which Muñoz’s legacy continues in the decade since his passing. This course is recommended for students with an interest in queer studies or queer-of-color critique, as well as those interested in the application of visual and performing arts to queer theoretical writing.


Feminist and Queer Activisms: Looking Beyond Stonewall

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course provides an opportunity for students to learn about the legacies of queer and feminist activism from an intersectional lens. Rather than centering on events such as the Stonewall Riots and the rise of second-wave feminism, we will explore activism through women-of-color theorists, queer-of-color activists, and transnational approaches to feminist and queer activism. In this course, activism will include not only sociopolitical movements but also art, music, and cultural works that raise awareness to queer and feminist lives. Topics of the course include: creating a rationale for a feminist movement, intersectionality and Kimberlé Crenshaw, queer activism before Stonewall, suffrage, the labor movement, neglected histories, STAR (Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera), ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), prison abolition, disability and collective access, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo. In conference work, students will develop a proposal for a queer/feminist activism project of their own design.


Music and Identity: “Listening” to Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

Often defined as “the universal language,” music has long held a reputation for its ability to cross borders, both literal and figurative. Until the 20th century, however, little attention had been given to the ways in which judgments of “good” versus “bad” music were influenced by perceptions of race, gender, sexuality, and other categories of identity. Why, for instance, has Western classical music’s sensibility made it an ideal candidate for “all” cultures around the world, while other traditions remain localized to specific communities or dismissed altogether as “lesser”? In this course, we will begin by understanding the ways in which music shapes our world, as well as how music can be shaped by subjectivities and biases. Through case studies of classical, hip-hop, country, punk, K-pop, reggaeton, and other genres, we will examine the ways in which issues of identity in music impact both musicians and audiences. We will read texts from musicology and ethnomusicology, gender and women’s studies, and ethnic studies as examples of how scholars from multiple disciplines write and engage with themes of race, gender, and sexuality in conversation with music. The semester will culminate in the presentation of an interdisciplinary final project that explores themes of music and identity alongside the student’s own interests.