Roundtable Doing Queer History in the Twenty-First Century

AHA Session 49
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 2
Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Erie Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Marcia M. Gallo, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jennifer Brier, University of Illinois at Chicago
John A. D'Emilio, University of Illinois at Chicago
Marcia M. Gallo, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University

Session Abstract

As the field of LGBTQ history has developed over the last three decades, practitioners have constructed modes of presentation that challenge traditional dichotomies of “popular” versus “scholarly.” Fittingly, since the late 1970s, Chicago has been home to a vibrant mix of scholars, in and out of the academy, who have engaged in the process of making various kinds of LGBT history. Greg Sprague, a graduate student at Loyola University of Chicago in the 1970s who started the AHA’s affiliate Committee on Lesbian and Gay History (now the Committee on LGBT History), worked to develop the Lavender University and Gay and Lesbian History Project, which ultimately became central to the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, a community-based project. More recently, Chicago has witnessed a series of LGBT public history projects including Out and Proud, a documentary film on history of GLBT life in Chicago produced by Chicago’s public television station, and the opening of the Leather Archives and Museum, an institution dedicated to archiving and telling the story of queer leather communities. Those efforts have often relied on an LGBT scholarly presence in myriad city educational institutions. This confluence of work has meant that Chicago can pride itself on being a place where LGBT history is presented to a range of audiences and in a variety of forms.

In this roundtable session, four scholars will review their experiences developing accessible queer history -- in print, online, in a museum exhibit, and as performance. John D’Emilio will discuss a gay history column that he has written in Chicago’s longstanding LGBTQ paper, Windy City Times; Marcia M. Gallo will review an online exhibit on Chicago activist and artist Valerie Taylor she developed for; Jennifer Brier will detail her work as curator of Out in Chicago, the first queer history exhibit at the Chicago History Museum (participants will be invited to tour the exhibit at the conclusion of the session) and E. Patrick Johnson will show the uses of oral histories in the solo performance piece he has created, “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales.”

Co-sponsored by the Committee on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender History of the American Historical Association.

The audience for this session is historians of gender, race, and sexuality; public historians; urban historians; scholars of performance studies; cultural historians; and all who are interested in utilizing new and nontraditional historical methodologies.


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