Students in the seminar “Queer American History” [CHUM 304, Spring 2002] are fortunate to have access to a remarkable new archival resource at Olin Library: the Queer Periodicals Collection. This collection documents the social, political, and cultural history of queer communities in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. As such, it has allowed students to work with primary source materials, many of which have received little or no scholarly attention.
“Queer American History” is an upper-level undergraduate seminar that examines transformations in the cultural meanings, politics, and social organization of same-sex sexuality in United States history with an emphasis on the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Major themes include the production of hetero- and homo-sexuality in medical, political, juridical, and cultural discourses; the formation and sustenance of sexual communities; and the politics of sexual oppression and resistance.
An important requirement for this seminar is the “Queer Periodicals Assignment,” developed in collaboration with Suzy Taraba. Each student selected one periodical in the collection and provided crucial documentation of the periodical’s publication history, contents, and audience. Drawing on this documentation, students wrote short essays assessing the significance of the periodical to the history of queer life and community in the United States.
This assignment proved valuable for a number of reasons. First, it allowed students to work directly with published primary sources and taught essential research skills. Second, it encouraged students to think about research strategies and sources for the seminar’s major research project. Third, this assignment provided the Special Collections & Archives staff with useful information on a new collection that has not yet been fully processed.
-Kevin Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Center for the Humanities
View the full text of the assignment as a Word 97 file
The Guide to the Gay Northeast. Boston: Fidelity Publishing, November 1987.
Lesbian Herstory Archives News. New York: Lesbian Herstory Archives, Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation, issue 9 (September 1986).
A Different beat. San Francisco (681 Ellis St.), June 3, 1976.
Genre. Los Angeles: Genre Publishing, issue 19 (June 1994).
GALA review. San Francisco: Gay Atheists League of America, vol. 1, no. 3, [1978?]
GALA review. San Francisco: Gay Atheists League of America, vol. 1, no. 2, [1978?]
Lesbian Herstory Archives News. New York: Lesbian Herstory Archives, Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation, issue 5 (Spring 1979).