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People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History

History and Theory

Editor: Paul Halsall


Introduction: History and Theory

Go to the following pages for other parts of People with a History


Back to Contents

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.



  • David M. Halperin: Eribon, D.: Michel Foucault [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, trans. Betsy Wing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991
  • Kathryn Gutzwiller: Halperin, D.M., One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [A gushing review]
  • Amy Richlin: Halperin, D.M.: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years Of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [Less gushing]
  • Alison M. Keith: Winkler, J.J.: The Constraints of Desire[Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] John J. Winkler. The Constraints of Desire. The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece. New York & London: Routledge, 1990.
  • Review of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (1990) [At Gay Book Reviews]
    One of the most influential books on queer theory.
  • Websites:

    • Queer Frontiers [At USC]
      An important "Queer Theory" site.
    • Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought Resources.
    • 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]

    Back to Contents

    This page is part of  People with a History. People with a History is a www site presenting history relevant to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people, through primary sources, secondary discussions, and images.. People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project.

    Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

    The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

    © Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 2 January 2020 [CV]