Great Deal! Get Instant $10 FREE in Account on First Order + 10% Cashback on Every Order Order Now

I need a good reading response to the attached reading. Do not use any other sources just the reading itself. I need it done by October 2, 2023 at 6:30 PM my time.

1 answer below »
Who Is the Subject? Queer Theory Meets Oral History

Who Is the Subject? Queer Theory
Meets Oral History
San Francisco State University

THE TINY SUBFIELD Of,lesbian,andqueer history has evolved
since the publication ofJohn D'Emilio's 1983 Sexual Politics, Sexual Com­
munities into a fledgling discipline that has over time established an over­
arching set of research questions and an accepted set of research methods.1
With the exception of a few monographs, like Peter Boag's exhaustively
esearched Same­Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality
in the Pacific Northwest (2003), there are few works in this twenty­five­year­
old field that do not depend heavily on oral history methods. As George
Chauncey observes in Gay New York, "early in my research it became clear
that oral histories would be the single most important source of evidence
concerning the internal working of the gay world."2 The use of oral history
methods stems back to the field's social history moorings, where historians
of the dispossessed found themselves lacking print sources and turned to
live historical actors for information about the recent past. In practicing the
craft, however, U.S. gay, lesbian, and queer historians have been influenced
y feminist ethnographers, whose methodology attempts to clarify the
social, economic, and ideological differences that exist between researchers
and their so­called subjects. Feminist researchers try to empower (rather
than exploit) historical na
ators by trusting their voices, positioning nar­
ators as historical experts, and interpreting na
ators' voices alongside the
' I use the phrase "gay, lesbian, and queer" rather than the more familiar "gay, lesbian,
isexual, and transgender" as a shorthand that collapses bisexual and transgender projects
into the um
ella category "queer." I do this because (while there are notable exceptions)
most bisexual and transgendcr projects­and many gay and lesbian projects­inte
ogate the
limits of identity politics in ways that produce a queer analysis, that is, an analysis of the social
construction of identity that contests fixed categories of identification. However, there are
still a number of projects that investigate "gay" and "lesbian" subjectivity exclusively, so it is
important to retain these categories of historical investigation.
2 George Chauncey, Gay Neiv York: Gender, U
an Culture, and the Making of the Gay
Male World, 1890­1940 (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 370. Peter Boag, Same­Sex Affairs:
Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific N11rthivest(Berkcley: University of
California Press, 2003).
Jo11rnal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 17, No. 2, May 2008
© 2008 by the University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713­7819


ators' interpretations of their own memories.3 Many gay, lesbian, and
queer historians have followed suit.
Drawing from the methods and methodology sections of a number of
historical and anthropological monographs, this essay discusses how gay,
lesbian, and queer history projects have used oral history and ethnography
to frame their projects. Discourse analysis and queer theory's inte
of subjectivity raise important questions about oral history methodologies,
however. Do oral histories provide reliable representations of the past? What
kind of truths do oral history methods reveal? This essay examines the evo­
lution of a discussion about oral history methods in U.S. gay, lesbian, and
queer historiography by analyzing how several key texts discuss historical
methodology, particularly in relation to queer theory. Beyond the discursive
clash between queer theory and oral history, however, I hope to raise larger
questions about the history of sexuality and its methods: Does the history
of sex, sexuality, and desire have a unique relationship to self­disclosure
and, thus, to oral history methods? Are questions of method particularly
vexed in queer projects because they discuss illegal or illicit desire? And is
there something voyeuristically compelling about the way na
ators (and
esearchers) create social meaning out of sexual desire?
This essay analyzes the evolution of a distinct method in U.S. gay,
lesbian, and queer historical research, and the texts I discuss have been
chosen because they contribute significantly to that evolution. The follow­
ing is not an inclusive list of significant works in queer history but, rather,
a selection of texts that, through their discussion of historical methods,
have pushed methodological questions forward. The texts I discuss, in
chronological order, include John D'Emilio's Sexual Politics, Sexual Com­
munities( 1983), Allan Berube's Coming Out under Fire (1990), Elizabeth
Kennedy and Madeline Davis's Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold (1993),
Esther Newton's Che
y Grove, Fire Island (1993), George Chauncey's
Gay New York (1994), and John Howard's Men like That XXXXXXXXXXI'll also
offer some methodological comments on my own publication, Wide­Open
Town XXXXXXXXXXThis essay explores how researchers­mostly historians but
also a few anthropologists­have grappled with the challenge queer theory
poses to oral history in its dependence both on self­knowing­that is, that
3 Shulamit Reinhardt, Feminist Methods in Social Research (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1992).
4 John D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual
Minority in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983); Allan Berube,
Coming Out under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two (New York:
Free Press, 1990); Elizabeth Kennedy and Madeline Davis, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold:
The History of a Lesbian Community (New York: Routledge, 1993); Esther Newton, Che
Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America1s First Gay and Lesbian Town (Boston: Beacon Press,
1993); Chauncey, Gay New York; and John Howard, Men like Thtit: A Southern Queer History
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).
5 Nan Alamilla Boyd, Wide­Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2003).
Queer Theory Meets Oral History 179

ators will be able to articulate a coherent or consistent representation
of themselves as historical actors­and on transparent subjectivity­that is,
that historians can somehow come to know these "selves" through their
self­descriptions. Why has sexual self­disclosure become so important to
gay, lesbian, and queer historical research? And what does the dependence
on oral history methods tell us about this fledgling field?
Before I attempt to answer these questions, let me explain what I mean by
"the challenge queer theory poses to oral history." Queer theory challenges
a transhistorical and cross­cultural interpretation of history that conflates
same­sex behavior with the ipso facto existence of sexual identities. Michel
Foucault argues in The History of Sexuality that the discursive or cultural
construction of the sexual self emerged at the same time as the rise of the
modern nation­state and is linked to modern notions of citizenship.6 In other
oad categories of national or cultural belonging (citizenship) have
ecome dependent on meanings attached to sexual behavior (good
moral/immoral, legal/criminal) and have produced the concept of sexual
identity (heterosexual/homosexual). Queer theory also relies on Foucault's
claim that the truth of one's self came to be embedded in the sexed body
through modern medical science.7 Biological and psychological theories of
normative bodies and behavior, codified through nineteenth­century West­
ern European intellectual history, mapped a knowable self on a binary of
normative heterosexuality and its nonnormative counterpart, homosexuality.
Following these insights, David Halperin argued in One Hundred Years of
Homosexuality that modern identities, like heterosexualityand homosexuality,
should not be superimposed on historical subjects, like those who engaged
in same­sex practices in ancient Greece, where sexual behaviors ca
ied dif­
ferent meanings.8 More recently, Judith Butler has argued that self­knowing
and self­disclosure­that is, claiming a sexual identity­function to reiter­
ate, through language and practice, the very terms upon which the ideas of
normative and nonnormative sexualities are constructed.9
Queer theory's challenge to oral history methods is multiple. When re­
searchers depend on the voices of historical actors to na
ate the history of
sexual identities, that is, how individuals understood their sexual selves in
elation to larger social forces, the meaning of their self­disclosure is always
constructed around historically specific norms and meanings. As a speaking
subject, it is nearly impossible for oral history or ethnographic na
ators to

6 Michel Foucault, The History of Sex11ality, vol. 1, An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley
(New York: Random House, 1978).
7 Michel Foucault, introduction to Herculine Ba
in, Being the Recently Discovered Mem­
oirs of a Nineteenth­Century French Hermaphrodite, trans. Richard McDougall (New York:
Pantheon, 1980).
8 David Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love
(New York: Routledge, 1989).
9 Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" ( New York: Routledge,

use language outside the parameters of modern sexual identities. Na
cannot remove themselves from the discursive practices that create stable sub­
ject positions. The na
ators' voices must, therefore, be read as texts, open to
interpretation, and their disclosures should be understood as part of a larger
process of reiteration, where identities are constantly reconstructed around
very limited sets of meanings. Moreover, along with queer theory's investi­
gation of the history of sexuality and the socialization of sexual beings into
discrete and knowable subjectivities came an implicit critique of self­knowing
and self­telling. How can we ever really know ourselves when the idea of self
is a discursive product of modernity that remains dependent on the idea of
not­ self, that is, other? Given this, how can we rely on historical na
ators as
coinvestigators or interpretive agents? Aren't they always already enmeshed
in the social conditions that produce their own articulations of self through
desire? Or is there something special about articulations of desire that enables
some kind of greater collaboration between historian and na
D 'Emilio's Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities set the foundation for the
production of historical na
ative in U.S. gay, lesbian, and queer history.10 In it
he draws from at least sixteen tape­recorded interviews and a host of "private
conversations" to make an argument about the politicization and organization
oflesbian and gay communities in the pre­Stonewall era. D'Emilio interviewed
many of the key players in San Francisco's and New York's early lesbian
and gay history, figures like Hal Call, Do
Legg, Don Lucas, Del Martin,
Frank Kameny, George Mendenhall, and La
y Littlejohn. His capacity to
tell the story of the homophile movement's early history is at times entirely
dependent on his oral history data, but D'Emilio does not problematize
his oral history methods. In fact, he makes no mention of the interviews he
conducted in his introduction or throughout the text. The challenge posed
y queer theory, and the concept of oral history as a problematic method
emerged after D'Emilio published his important manuscript. Nonetheless,
methodologically, D'Emilio's book paved the way for future histories to be
written. His use of oral histories offered a blueprint for the kind of research
methods that were perhaps necessary for the production of gay and lesbian
community histories.
Published almost a decade later, Berube's Coming Out under Fire is heav­
ily dependent on oral history methods. Berube's text was published around
the time queer theory emerged as an important analytical tool, but Berube
calls his study of U.S. gays and lesbians during World War II a grassroots
history project. There is no mention of "method" or "methodology" in the
introduction, but he explains that his research was enabled by a "traveling
slideshow" during which he would screen developing drafts of his work in
various communities and, innovatively, cull information from the crowd to

'°Fora review of the impact of D'Emilio's 1983 text on the production of U.S. gay and
lesbian history see Marc Stein, "Theoretical Politics, Local Communities: The Making ofU .S.
LGBT Historiography," GLQll, no XXXXXXXXXX): 605­25.
Queer Theory Meets Oral History 181

further his analysis. He notes that his traveling slideshow enabled an "ongo­
ing public dialog with the communities whose history I was documenting
and to which I belonged."11
Led by audience participation and public enthusiasm, the people who at­
tended his slideshows often "agreed to be interviewed [and even] collected
funds to pay for research expenses."12 In the process, Berube notes, more
than one hundred gay men and lesbians volunteered to be interviewed about
their experience during World War II, and he formally interviewed seventy­
one World War II veterans. He calls these documents "personal stories"
instead of oral histories, and they enabled him "to see military policies from
the points of view of the people they directly affected."13 Berube transcribed
and archived many of these stories, and he was vividJy aware of their role as
historical documents
Answered 3 days After Sep 29, 2023


Bidusha answered on Oct 02 2023
7 Votes
Queer theory meets oral history         2
Table of Contents
Summary    3
References    5
During the 1990s, the areas of lesbian, gay, and gender studies led to queer theory. Albeit queer theory has various applications, understandings, and purposes, overall it could be considered the investigation of gender rehearses/personalities and sexualities that don't adjust to cisgender and heterosexual "standards." Disparaging of essentialist points of view on sexuality and gender, queer scholars and thinkers consider these plans to be produced social and social cycles.
Researchers like Gloria Anzalda, who were impacted by Michel Foucault's 1976 book The Historical backdrop of Sexuality, which stated that sexuality is a social develop...

Answer To This Question Is Available To Download

Related Questions & Answers

More Questions »

Submit New Assignment

Copy and Paste Your Assignment Here