People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History
Introduction: History and Theory
Go to the following pages for other parts of People with a History
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Chapter 1: History and Theory
For teachers of courses on LGBT subjects an important choice is
always whether to address "events and people" or "theory"
first. In most areas of history this is simply not an issue: courses
focus on periods and any relevant "theory" -- for example,
Marxist economics, Whig politics -- is discussed as it come up.
But LGBT history almost from the outset has been intertwined with
complex discussions about what makes a "homosexual".
It is also true that much of the evidence about "homosexuality"
in the past survives in sources which have long been of interest
to philologists, philosophers, and literary critics. The result
is that the field is awash with jargonistic discussions. These
discussions are not, however, pointless, and have raised basic
questions about the entire arena of the history of human sexuality.
- John Thorp, Review Article/Discussion, The Social Construction of Homosexuality Phoenix, [At Medieval Sourcebook]
Thorp analyzes one of the defining debates in the academic study
of homosexuality in the past. He attacks the notion that there
was no "homosexuality" in ancient Greece by considering
claims of Foucault and Halperin.
David M. Halperin, Forgetting Foucault: Acts, Identities, and the History of Sexuality [At Internet Archive, from Emory]
Halperin is among the leaders of the "social constructionist"
school of thought in regard to homosexuality in the Ancient world.
- Laurel M. Bowman,
Interview with David Halperin, Favonius vol. 3 (1991), 27-43
- Marilyn B. Skinner, Zeus and Leda:
The Sexuality Wars in Contemporary Classical Scholarship [At Diotima]
Mark Ormand, Positions for Classicists, or Why Should Feminist Classicists Care about Queer Theory? [At Diotima]
- Rictor Norton: Synopsis of The Myth of the Modern Homosexual: Queer History and the
Search for Cultural Unity, (London: Cassells, 1997) [At Norton's
Norton is an opponent of "social construction" theories.
He holds that the proper subject of gay history is queer culture
in the past.
Richard Mohr: "John Boswell and Gay Generations",
Although a number of gay historians have been critical of John
Boswell (along with the usual right-wing critics), many others
have appreciated what he brought to gay historical studies.
Vinc-Cheng: Judith Butler's Obliteration of the "I" [At Berkeley]
A paper on Butler's concept of "performitivity" - now
a major theme in a number of LGBT research projects.
- Paul Halsall: Comments on Defining a Field: Lesbian and Gay History,
- Paul Halsall: A History of Heterosexuality?
- Wayne Dynes:
Queer Studies: In Search of A Discipline,
Academic Questions 1995
Critique of 1994 Queer studies conference at University of Iowa.
- Annamarie Jagose: Queer Theory, Australian Humanities Review, December 1996, [At latrobe.edu.au]
Donald Morton: The Crisis of Queer Theory and/in Altman's "Globalism" [At latrobe.edu.au]
Frederick Whitam: A Question of Sexual Orientation,
ASU RESEARCH, 23 Aug. 1995 [At Arizona State U.]
Summary of ethnographic report, with claims of genetic basis for
Amy Goodloe: Choice, Biology and the Causes of Homosexuality [At Lesbian.org]
Presented at a panel discussion on Queer Studies at SFSU September,
HOMOSEXUALITY - An
Analysis of Biological Theories of Causation [At Fly Fishing Devon]
Queer Frontiers [At USC]
An important "Queer Theory" site.
Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought
- Foucault Home Page [At CSUN]
Discussion of the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault has
been central to some recent historiography of LGBT's. This is
probably the best Foucault site, and has links to others. The
links page here provides references to sites concerned with the
other divinities of "theory" - Nietzsche, Lacan, Heidigger,
Derrida, Deleuze. Some would argue it is all a commentary on Nietzsche.
The Gay Gene [At AOL]
A site run by Chandler Burr for "both scientists and non-scientists.
It contains articles and links to ongoing studies. Much of the
"critical theory" aspect of discussion about LGBT history
has been founded on the assumption that "sexuality"
is a human "social construction". This notion does have solid backing from anthropological data. A major challenge
to the "constructionist" position has arisen with the
publication of a number of different studies which suggest that
homosexuality has a genetic basis in at least some people.
- The Scientific Debate on Homosexuality [At Internet Archive, from Dallas Net]
Slightly "lighter" than the Gay Gene site.
- Scientific Inquiries into Sexual Orientation [At CMU]
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© 1997, Paul Halsall, [a picture!]
Note: I read all mail, and keep much of it, but I will
not be able to reply to all notes.
Last updated April 12, 2007