Gender Studies | Graduate Topics in Gender Studies: Queer Histroicism
G701 | 28528 | Johnson, C

Over the past several decades historians of gender and sexuality
have gotten rather good at studying the lesbian and gay past.  In
fact, and at the risk of overstating the case somewhat, one might go
so far as to argue that lesbian and gay history has become a
relatively respectable area of specialization within the
profession.  While there is much to celebrate about this
development, there is also good reason to pause and reflect on its
implications.  For in addition to yielding an extraordinarily
compelling body of new scholarship on a topic that once dared not
speak its name, the lesbian and gay historical establishment has
also necessarily embraced a number of methodological conventions and
normative habits of mind that may or may not be particularly
advantageous in the context our of political present.  With this
problematic in mind, our purpose of this seminar will be twofold.
First, we will survey a methodologically diverse range of
contemporary scholarship that deals with the history of same-sex
sexual behavior and gender non-conformity, particularly scholarship
that deals with these issues in the context of the United States.
At the same time, we will also consider the work of some familiar
critics, philosophers and theorists whose rich insights into
history’s function as an epistemological formation are really only
just beginning to be taken up with any seriousness by most students
of the history of gender and sexuality.  These thinkers include
Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Gilles Deleuze,
Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Georgi Plekhanov, and
Virginia Woolf, to name just a few.  Ultimately our goal will be to
consider the following question:  If “lesbian and gay history” is
properly the study of identity formation as many influential social
constructionists have argued, what would queer history look like?