In the Universities and on the Streets: LGBTQ History, Queer Studies, Social Movement Histories

AHA Session 157
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Boulevard C (Hilton Chicago, Second Floor)
John A. D'Emilio, University of Illinois at Chicago
Matt Brim, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Rachel Corbman, State University of New York at Stony Brook
John A. D'Emilio, University of Illinois at Chicago
Rostom Mesli, University of Michigan
SaraEllen Strongman, University of Pennsylvania

Session Abstract

2019 seems poised to be a significant year for reflecting back on the development of feminist and LGBTQ history. During the 2019 meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA), the Coordinating Council for Women in History will celebrate its 50th anniversary, while the Committee on LGBT History will mark its 40th year. That same month, in January 2019, the premier interdisciplinary journal for queer studies GLQ is set to publish a 25th anniversary forum on the development of the field. To commemorate these occasions and participate in this reflective work, the Committee on LGBT History is sponsoring a cross disciplinary roundtable that considers the development of LGBT history and queer studies in relation to the late twentieth century social movements from which these fields of study emerged.

Bringing together AHA and MLA affiliated scholars, roundtable participants share an investment in centering institutions, communities, and fields of study that are often left out of accounts of the development of LGBT history and queer studies. Rather than focusing on scholarly work of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, for example, many roundtable participants look to an earlier moment in the 1970s, as well as communities of LGBTQ scholars who worked outside of or in perilous relation to universities. Similarly, in an analysis of our current moment, another participant questions the ramifications of associating queer studies with elite universities that have long excluded poor and working class students. Participants also share an interest in thinking through the field’s racial, class, and gender politics. Here, many participants stress the close kinship between feminist and LGBTQ social movements and fields of study, including specific analyses of women’s history, black feminism, and intersectionality.

Overall, this roundtable invites conversation regarding the complex entanglement of LGBTQ social movements and fields of study. Activists, roundtable participants collectively suggest, are engaged in theory making, while social movements have a profound effect on the development of these ostensibly academic fields of study. This roundtable should thus be of wide interest to LGBT history and queer studies scholars, as well as historians of social movements and higher education.

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