Historiography of LGBTQH History

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Analyzing the Character of Work in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Heterosexual History

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The historiography of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and heterosexual (LGBTQH) history is the self-reflexive study of the processes by which knowledge of LGBTQH history is hypothesized and theorized, empirically researched, and analyzed, interpreted, written, cited, published, and received over time and in different societies.

The historiographer examines the history of LGBTQH history, and analyses the implications of naming and conceptualizing a specifically LGBTQH history, as opposed to, for example, a "homosexual" (and "heterosexual") history, a history of "same-sex and different-sex sexual relations," a history of "same-sex and different-sex "love" or "intimacy," or a history of "queer" and "normal" or "normative" sexuality.

The historiographer examines historians' explicit and implicit starting assumptions, and the implications of those assumptions for their work in LGBTQH history. The historiographer studies how a historian's definition -- in the present, at a specific point in time, in a particular society -- of a specific past object of study affects how that historian understands and presents her/his findings about the LGBTQH past.

The historiographer of LGBTQU history touches on such elements as authorship, sources, evidence, bias, perspective, interpretation, judgment, causation, style, and audience.

Interconnections in LGBTQH history among (alphabetically listed) class, ethnicity, gender, politics, race, religion, and sexuality, have also been major areas of concern to historical researchers, as have connections between the history of sexual and gender terminology and the social-historical organization of power, social structures and institutions, and sexual and gender behaviors and identities.

Historiography is often broken down topically, such as the LGBTQH historiography of a particular nation state (for example, the history of LGBTQH life in the United States, or within the Islamic nations, or in China), or the historiography of particular cities or geographic regions. The rise of globalism and of newly perceived deep interconnections between countries and nations has lead to a stress on international LGBTQH history.

Historiographers study different approaches or genres of history, such as LGBTQH economic history, oral history, political history, or social history. They analyze differences in history written for scholarly readers and popular history written for the general public. They study how history is presented in art, articles, books, movies, popular magazines, scholarly periodicals, on TV and most recently, on the Internet and in other new media.

Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, and the coming out of independent scholars and academy-based historians, a body of writing on on LGBTQH historiography has begun to emerge.[1]

For specific problems in LGBTQH historiography, see the following list of stub articles, or add new ones. Please help OutHistory begin the process of filling in these stub articles by starting to create a list of articles, books, films, and other works that touch on each of these subjects. And begin to fill in the stubs:

Age-convergent and Age-divergent Relationships in LGBTQH History

Aging and Youth in LGBTQH History

Alienation and Intimacy in LGBTQH History (see also: Sexuality in LGBTQH History)

Bisexual Historiography

Claiming and Denying in LGBTQH History (claiming or denying the homosexuality of creative, famous, or "positive" figures)

Class in LGBTQH History

Ethnicity in LGBTQH History

Essentialism and LGBTQH History (see also Social Construction and LGBTQ History)

Evidence in LGBTQH History

Gay Male Historiography

Gender in LGBTQH History

Heterosexual Historiography

Historians and LGBTQH History

Identity Categories and Politics in LGBTQH History

Immigration and Migration in LGBTQH History

International and National LGBTQH Histories (including internationalism and nationalism in LGBTQH History)

Intersectionality in LGBTQH History

Lesbian Historiography

Normativity in LGBTQH History

Periodization in LGBTQH History (see also: Time as Constructed in LGBTQH History)

The Personal and Political in LGBTQH History

Power in LGBTQH History

Presentism in LGBTQH History

Queer Historiography

Race in LGBTQH History

Romanticizing LGBTQH History

Sexuality in LGBTQH History (see also: Alienation and Intimacy in LGBTQH History)

Social Construction and LGBTQH History (see also Essentialism in LGBTQH History)

Theorizing LGBTQH History

Time as Constructed in LGBTQH History

Transgender Historiography (also see Gender in LGBTQH History)



Freeman, Elizabeth. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Forthcoming, Duke University Press 2010.

Freeman, Elizabeth. ed. Queer Temporalities, special double issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian Gay Studies 13.2/3 (Winter/Spring 2007).


Braverman, Scott. "Queer Fictions of the Past: History, Culture, and Difference" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xv plus 174pp. $54.95/hardcover $16.95/paperback).

Freeman, Elizabeth. "Packing History, Count(er)ing Generations." New Literary History 31.4 (Autumn 2000): 727-44.

Freeman, Elizabeth. "Time Binds, or, Erotohistoriography." Social Text #84-85 special issue, The New Queer Theory (October 2005): 57-68.

Freeman, Elizabeth. “Turn the Beat Around: Sadomasochism, Temporality, History.” differences 19.1 (2008): 32-70.

Halsall, Paul. "Lesbian and Gay Histories: Defining the Fields". Accessed online 9-10-2010 at: www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/lghist-def.html

Heap, Chad. Review of Scott Braverman. "Queer Fictions of the Past: History, Culture, and Difference" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xv plus 174pp. $54.95/hardcover $16.95/paperback). Journal of Social History (George Mason University Press). Volume 33, Number 1, Fall 1999, pp. 194-195

In Queer Fictions of the Past, Scott Bravmann seeks not to document the history of lesbians and gay men, but to analyze the "multiple, complex, and inconsistent ways that historical arguments motivate gay and lesbian identities, communities, and politics." (p. ix) Building on the insights of lesbian and gay studies, queer theory, and a variety of other "postmodern" approaches to scholarship, he launches a "queer cultural studies of history" in an effort to challenge scholars' beliefs in the objectivity and stability of historical narratives of lesbian and gay experiences . . . . "


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