Posts by Chris Howard-Woods
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON April 20, 2017
Founded in 2010, the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony is an online archival research project based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. The archives work in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU) and supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
This week, the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony (ALOT) launches Bridging the Gap, a research initiative that aims to connect the broader community with their archives through the use of digital technologies. Now, users can record and contribute oral history interviews to the archives themselves and engage with other participatory features. To increase awareness about ALOT’s holdings and enable users to learn how to conduct oral interviews, they are also launching a new podcast and blog, both of which you can find here: http://www.alotarchives.org/bl
Interest in lesbian and queer women’s history is on the rise. Recent research by the ALOT team found that people searching for the term “lesbian history” have increased by 30% in the past two years alone. This proves that there are people who want to learn about and engage with their history. The Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony is a much-needed resource to hear real, raw, and honest accounts of lesbian and queer history.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON February 28, 2017
From Open Cultural Studies, a New Peer-Reviewed Journal by De Gruyter Open:
Andrew Ross, in his now classic text “Uses of Camp,” points to Prince and Michael Jackson and their polysexual identities as emblematic of camp aesthetics yet completely neglects the significance of the race factor in their campiness. In turn, he fails to consider the connection between camp and race. According to Pamela Robertson, one of the very few authors who have explored this fascinating intersection, this is characteristic for discourse on camp in general. Critics tend to compare camp to black culture or to blackface, but they do not explore race as inherent in or significant for camp aesthetics. This glaring gap in critical discourse is largely connected with the regime of authenticity that limited many studies of black culture and has been recently challenged by works such as G. A. Jarret’s Deans and Truants: Race and Realism in African American Literature (2006) or Kenneth Warren’s What Was African American Literature (2011). The focus on racial authenticity in black culture has led to the privileging of texts explicitly embedded in historical discourses, such as slave narratives, and to the marginalization of, especially nineteenth-century, fiction, and particularly texts parading non-black, white-looking, or racially indefinite characters (cf. Maria Giulia Fabi, Passing and the Rise of the African American Novel, 2001). This exclusion of a vast body of largely women-authored texts, frequently featuring mulatta protagonists, has been problematized in numerous, mostly feminist studies since 1987, when Hazel Carby published the canonical Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. These feminist explorations, however, have mostly focused on the mulatta figure and the phenomenon of passing in literature and have never used camp as an analytical tool. On Uses of Black Camp, a 2017 special issue of Open Cultural Studies, aims to fill in this lack in critical discourses of both camp and black cultures, to help us better understand the reasons for such scarcity of texts on blackness and campiness, and to discuss the effectiveness of camp as a political tool.
The call for papers encourages essays that address but are not limited to the following topics:
- Performances of racial passing and excesses of mulatta melodramas;
- Blues and the politics of non-normativity, or “The race problem had at last been solved through Art plus Gladys Bentley,” to misquote Langston;
- Black English and “the will to adorn,” to quote from Zora;
- Superflies and Foxy Browns, or Blaxploitation (and anti-Blaxploitation);
- Black dandies, sweetbacks, and processes of citification;
- Diva gangstas – to paraphrase A. Ross – and swagger queens, or the glamorous campiness of hip-hop culture;
- From Sun Ra to the Electric Lady, or black to the extraterrestrial funkadelic Afrofuture, to signify on Mark Dery;
- Signifyin’ and “camping the dirty dozens,” to borrow from M.B. Ross;
- Symbolic gayness of camp and symbolic whiteness of homosexuality;
- Race perfomativity and race plasticity;
- Gender performativity, Wilde sexuality, and black camp;
- Posthumanism and alleged postraciality.
Only original and unpublished submissions will be considered.
Manuscripts should be between 5000-7000 words and should adhere to the latest MLA style.
Please, send complete papers to Anna Pochmara, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Justyna Wierzchowska, email@example.com by May, 31 2017.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON January 23, 2017
At the AHA in Denver the Committee on LGBT History awarded two prizes: the John Boswell Prize for the best book in LGBT history published in the prior two years; and the Joan Nestle Prize for the best undergraduate paper or project in the same period. We thank prize committee members Phil Tiemeyer (chair, Kansas State University), Afsaneh Najmabadi (Harvard University) and Carson Morris (University of New Mexico) for their hard work in selecting the winners, which are below:
John Boswell Prize
CO-WINNER: Clare Sears, Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press).
Grounded in substantial and dynamic archival work, Arresting Dress historicizes the very production of normativity and marginality within the changing political and social climate of 19th century San Francisco and the broader United States. Sears effectively demonstrates how cross-dressing laws constructed nationhood in terms of race, sexuality, and gender and laid the groundwork for the 20th century policing of gender and sexuality. Using a methodology she terms “trans-ing analysis” to focus on the production of normative and non-normative dress practices, Sears highlights the fluidity of such practices rather than the fixed identities of individuals. This monograph is analytical intersectionality at its best, building on and contributing to studies of race, immigration, citizenship, gender, sexuality, and urban history.
CO-WINNER: Timothy Stewart-Winter, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).
Especially admirable is Stewart-Winter’s attention to how queer activism in Chicago was always coalitional, involving work across races, genders, and sexual identities. Stewart-Winter deftly examines how the defining moments of queer political ascendancy in Chicago—protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the 1983 electoral victory of Harold Washington as Chicago’s first African American mayor—were collaborative operations built on shared commitments to end police brutality and to overcome political exclusion. Such focus allows Stewart-Winter to rework the somewhat familiar narrative of queer urban history, opening up fresh opportunities for future scholars to examine how the rise of queer political power was a collaborative venture.
Joan Nestle Prize
WINNER: Ben Eshelman, “Trans Rochester Speaks”
Conducted under the guidance of Professor Tamar Carroll, Eshelman’s website boasts an engaging and insightful collection of oral histories with members of Rochester’s trans community. Eshelman has divided his project to cover various facets of trans life–activism, work, parenting, healthcare, community, and visibility–allowing a rich coverage of how trans identity shapes one’s relationship with the world. The committee is deeply impressed with Eshelman’s exemplary engagement with primary sources (especially oral histories) and his impressive synthesis of these narratives into a cogent and highly accessible rendering of trans life in his community.
The CLGBTH website will be updated shortly to reflect the prize recipients.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON January 11, 2017
This post, which inaugurates the DigitalArchives stream on this blog, was written by Eric Marcus, Editorial Director of Making Gay History.
I’m not a religious person, not even vaguely spiritual. But the explanation that makes the most sense to me for how I wound up producing a weekly podcast drawing on recordings I made almost thirty years ago is this: the people I interviewed wanted to tell their stories in their own voices and they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
In 1988 I was a young journalist starting work on an oral history book about the LGBT civil rights movement. I don’t remember why, but I asked Jay Kernis, my colleague at CBS News who was one of the creators of NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition,” what kind of equipment the reporters at NPR used. I can only guess that I thought my interviews could have value one day and that I might as well use broadcast quality equipment to record them.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2015. I’d just been forced out my job at a suicide prevention non-profit and I did what you do when you’re trying to get back on your feet. You review your assets, have lots of conversations, and figure out what you’re going to do next. And that’s when it occurred to me that it was time to revisit the 300 hours of interviews I’d conducted for my 1992 book, Making Gay History, an oral history of the LGBT civil rights movement. There was my asset. Next question: What can I do with it? The first thing I had to do was listen. And when I did I was transported back in time and the voices of these extraordinary people who changed the course of history urged me to tell their stories again.
Then following a series of introductions I met two incredibly smart women who were developing LGBT-inclusive K-12 curricula through their non-profit organization History UnErased. I mentioned my audio archive and they suggested using short excerpts from some of the interviews to anchor middle- and high-school lesson plans. Next I asked my neighbor, Sara Burningham (who happens to be an independent audio producer) if she could cut some tape. She could. But as we started work, it became clear that the voices wanted more time. And we wanted more people to hear them.
Another moment put us in a room with Jenna Weiss-Berman, co-founder of podcast production house Pineapple Street Media (Women of The Hour, Still Processing, With Her). Jenna has been an ardent supporter and mentor for the project. So with financial support from the Arcus Foundation and the help of our friends at the New York Public Library we launched the Making Gay History podcast this past October in time for LGBT History month.
One of my favorite episodes from our first season features life partners Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen, leading voices in the early LGBT civil rights movement and a pair of the most cheerful revolutionaries you’ll ever hear. They were self-described gay rights fanatics, who challenged the status quo with passion, determination, and an indestructible sense of humor. Listening to their voices again after all these years, I’m instantly back in their cozy living room in Philadelphia. There’s a kettle on the stove and Barbara is calling to Kay for a desperately needed cup of coffee. I hope you’ll join us and have a listen, because they have stories to tell and they want you to hear them—in their voices.
Eric Marcus is the author of a dozen books, including Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights and is co-author with Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis of the #1 New York Times bestselling Breaking the Surface. His collection resides at the New York Public Library in the Archives and Manuscripts Division. The NYPL also houses the collection of Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON September 1, 2016
The Organization of American Historians announces the establishment of the John D’Emilio LGBTQ History Dissertation Award, given annually to the best PhD dissertation in U.S. LGBTQ history. The prize is named for John D’Emilio, pioneer in LGBTQ history.
Details: A dissertation must be completed during the period July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016 to be eligible for the 2017 D’Emilio Prize. The prize will be presented at the 2017 OAH Annual Meeting in New Orleans, April 6–9. The final decision will be made by the award committee by February 2017. The winner will be provided with details regarding the OAH Annual Meeting and awards presentation.
To Apply: Please send an electronic attachment of your complete dissertation to each of the three committee members listed to the right by October 3, 2016. Each committee member must receive all applications by this date. Each application must also include a letter of support from a faculty member at the degree-granting institution, along with an abstract and table of contents.
Deadline: Applications must be submitted by October 3, 2016
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON December 2, 2015
Proposals on LGBTQ History are now being accepted for the 109th annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association (August 4-6, 2015): the deadline has been extended to December 15, 2015.
Scholars working in LGBT/queer history are specially invited to submit proposals to the upcoming meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, to be held in Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii. In order to foster a strong presence for LGBTQ history at the conference, the deadline for submissions on this topic is extended to December 15, 2016. Submissions should speak in some way to the main theme for the conference, “Uncharted Terrain: The Challenge of Re-Imagining Traveling to the Past” (general CFP posted below). Especially encouraged are proposals that address histories tied to the conference location in Hawaii, that address transnational networks of the LGBTQ past, or that honor queer anniversaries of our era such as the first homophile “Annual Reminder,” the uprising at Compton’s Cafeteria, or of the meaning of of anti-colonial and civil rights anniversaries for queer history. Assembled panels are strongly encouraged, but individual papers are also welcome and may be incorporated into panels that include both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ scholarship. If complete panel proposals are submitted, one panel participant for each proposed panel is expected to serve as a contact for the complete panel. Each panels proposal should include a brief description of the panel, a one-page abstract for each paper presentation, and a one page c.v. for each panel participant. Roundtable proposals should also provide a contact person and submit a brief description of the roundtable and a one page c.v. for each participant. Proposals that include an alternative format should include a description of the session and its format and goals, as well as a one page c.v. for each participant. Graduate students are welcome to submit.
All those submitting individual papers should include a one-page paper abstract and a one page c.v. Please e-mail submissions by December 15, 2016 to Ana Elizabeth Rosas at firstname.lastname@example.org and Mark Padoongpatt at email@example.com. Submissions should be included as Word or PDF documents. Submitters will be notified of acceptance by April 1, 2016.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON November 30, 2015
Decades of scholarship have brought considerable nuance, specificity, and intersectional agency to the history of same-sex desires and identities. Most historians of sexuality pause, or at least acknowledge anachronism, before naming a “homosexual” or “lesbian” subject from a time before those words existed. Yet “the heterosexual” too often remains a diffuse, ineffable presence, “always already” present and devoid of historical contingency or ambiguity.
This volume of original essays seeks to challenge ahistorical approaches to the heterosexual subject. What is the history of heterosexuality? Who or what is the heterosexual subject, and how has it changed over time? How has the history of heterosexuality intertwined with the histories of race, class, and ethnicity to shape ideas of difference? How and why has it become a normative category of social, economic, and political privilege? Historians of sexuality and gender have begun to historicize heterosexuality in ways that account for its raced, classed, and gendered variations. Yet scholars, teachers, and students of sexuality lack a coherent framework for understanding heterosexuality as a historically specific identity or norm. The heterosexual remains a figure historians write about without fully conceptualizing.
To that end, this anthology is accepting proposals for scholarship that critically examines heterosexuality as a problematic, contested, and intersectional subject of historical analysis. Essays may focus on any facet of heterosexuality, from the eighteenth century through the present, within and/or across the shifting borders of the United States, or in a transnational U.S. perspective. Such an expansive geographic and chronological scope will help scholars, public intellectuals, and students understand how sexual identities change over time; how race and class shape heterosexuality; and how heteronormativity coexists with and informs fears of racial, sexual, and gender deviance. Heterosexual Histories will approach heterosexuality as an inherently opaque and equivocal category of historical inquiry, through which historians constitute and interpret heterosexual subjects, identities, norms, and politics.
Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 15, 2016, along with a one-page CV. Authors will be notified by April 2016. The due date for completed drafts (of 6,000 to 9,000 words) is December 15, 2016. ”
From Rebecca Davis, H-Net.org, November 23, 2015.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON November 18, 2015
This weekend director Stu Maddux is rolling out the red carpet at IFC in Greenwich village. The NYC Premiere of Reel in the Closet, a documentary starring ordinary LGBT people, is opening the door to a “treasure trove of rare home movies made by gay people – some dating to the 1930s – that have long languished in the back of people’s closets.” Featuring archivists by the likes of the Library of Congress, the Royal Copenhagen Library, and the GLBT Historical society (to name a few), the documentary brings to light how the LGBT community lived before the civil rights movement, during the Stonewall Riots, and after Harvey Milk’s assassination. The premiere of Reel in the Closet is part of DOC NYC, and will take place Sat. November 14 at 2:15pm at the IFC Center.
You can purchase tickets for this event here.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON October 12, 2015
Over the past months, we’ve been publishing essays and collections that might be useful additions to your classes this semester — or to your spring syllabus. Work added to the site since May includes:
- Barbara Gittings: Founding New York Daughters of Bilitis, 1958: In this piece, co-director Jonathan Ned Katz interviews lesbian pioneer Barbara Gittings in 1974 about her emergence as an out lesbian activist, including a section about the founding and early history of the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis.
- TRANSforming Randy Wicker: This documentary directed by Michael Kasino details the life of Randy Wicker, a long time gay activist.
- 50th Anniversary Annual Reminders, Philadelphia, July 4, 1965-July 4, 1969: Containing interviews, dozens of primary documents, and a bibliography of recommended sources, Stein and his students at York University commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demonstrations for gay and lesbian rights that began at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on July 4, 1965, an event that continued as the Annual Reminder through 1969.
- The Subject Speaks: Jimmy Paul Interviewed by Svetlana Kitto: The subject of a famous Nan Goldin photo, Jimmy Paul speaks movingly about his life, and about encountering an inaccurate caption on that photo in a major queer history art show.
- Mary Casal, pseudonym of Ruth Fuller Field: The Autobiography of an American Lesbian (1930). This feature reveals the true name of Mary Casal, the author of The Stone Wall, about her life as a lesbian living in early 20th Century Chicago. The feature offers an introduction, a long excerpt from her frank work, and a bibliography of sources about the author.
- Americans in Württemberg Scandal, 1888: This four-part entry, also compiled and written by co-director Jonathan Ned Katz, details a scandal that erupted in Würtemberg, Germany, in 1888, involving its King and three American men, Richard Mason Jackson, Charles Woodcock, and Donald Hendry. The story is told vividly from documents representing three opposing viewpoints: the popular American press, the report of German detectives approved by Otto von Bismarck, and a novel titled A Lady in Waiting, by Woodcock and Hendry.
BY Chris Howard-Woods ON July 22, 2015
From the New York Times, July 20, “Harlem Archive Collects Past Stories of Those Who Wrestled With Their Sexuality“:
Ms. Thompson, now 65, is part of a new oral history project in Harlem that captures the experiences of 13 pioneers in New York City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Their stories tell of the hardship and discrimination they faced within their own families at a time when expressing their sexuality was neither encouraged nor accepted.
…Their stories will be shared Tuesday night at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system. The project will become a permanent part of the center’s “In the Life Archive,” a trove of thousands of books, photographs, original manuscripts and other works produced by and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers. “In the Life” refers both to a phrase used for those lifestyles in black culture, and to the title of a 1986 anthology of black gay writers that was edited by Joseph Beam….
For making this project happen OutHistory congratulates Steven G. Fullwood, assistant curator at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Peter Wright, a program coordinator at the Harlem center for older adults run by Services and Advocacy for G.L.B.T. Elders, known as SAGE.