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.