Archive for the 'GLBTQ' Category

June 25th 2011
Gender and performance in grad school

Posted under Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students

Via Canada-Supporting Women in Geography, I found this article by Duke University Literature Professor Toril Moi, “Discussion or Aggression? Arrogance and Despair in Graduate School.”  In it she writes about speech, authority, and power dynamics in the graduate seminar, specifically about the gendered nature of these dynamics:

Every year some female graduate students tell me that they feel overlooked, marginalized, silenced in some seminars. They paint a picture of classrooms where the alpha males—so-called “theory boys”—are encouraged to hold forth in impossibly obscure language, but where their own interventions elicit no response. These women, in short, say that they are not listened to, that they are not taken seriously, and that they get the impression that their perceptions of the matter at hand are of no interest to anyone else. 

Such experiences tend to reproduce a particularly clichéd ideology in which theory and abstract thought are thought to belong to men and masculinity, and women are imagined to be the bearers of emotional, personal, practical concerns. In a system that grants far more symbolic capital, far more intellectual power, to abstract theorizing than to, say, concrete investigations of particular cases, these women lose out in the battle for symbolic capital. This is bad for their relationship to the field they love, and it is bad for their careers in and out of graduate school. This is sexism, and all this goes to show that sexist effects often arise from the interactions of people who have no sexist intentions at all.

But there is another side to this. Sometimes I have a conversation with someone who has been described to me as a theory boy. Then I invariably discover that the theory boy doesn’t at all sound like an intellectual terrorist. He is, simply, profoundly and passionately interested in ideas. He loves theory and precisely because he loves it, he has strong theoretical views.

Moi concludes that faculty play a critical role in encouraging dialogic conversation rather than monologic performance, and that “[s]ome of us—professors and graduate students—need to learn to stop being so touchy, vain and self-regarding, so that we can listen to well-founded criticism without becoming defensive. Others need to learn to become more assertive and how to stand their ground when their views come under pressure. We all need to care more about formulating our thought precisely and less about the impression we make on others.”  But the point about faculty leadership is key, I think–it’s fun to engage in a lively discussion with passionate students, but we need to consider why some may not want to engage in the conversation, and how we can ensure that the ideas of those students get a full and fair hearing.

Moi’s article struck me as relevant because I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently that suggest that faculty play a role in perpetuating this division by using different language and different standards in evaluating their women versus men graduate students.  Continue Reading »

47 Comments »

June 23rd 2011
I just went gay all of a sudden!

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & happy endings & Intersectionality & women's history

Maybe it wasn’t all of a sudden–maybe it’s a process that has happened over the last few years, or maybe I was born this way, but I find myself wanting to align myself with the queer bloggers ever more closelyThe queer bloggers I read and feel a comradeship with don’t think that there is only one way to be a good lesbian or gay man.  They don’t police the language that other gays and lesbians use to write about or talk about their own experiences.  We sometimes disagree, but they don’t feel the need to lecture me about daring to write about queerness or question the authenticity of my queer sensibilities. 

Some of you heterosexualists, especially some of you who identify online as mothers:  not so much!  Continue Reading »

76 Comments »

June 15th 2011
Call for Contributors: Women in Early America

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & publication & women's history

Thomas Foster, author of Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man (2006), and the editor of two recent collections of essays in early American history of sexuality and gender, Long Before Stonewall:  Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America (2007) and New Men:  Manliness in Early America (2011), is looking for contributors for a new volume to be published by New York University Press called Women in Early America.  I’ll let Foster take it from here–this is from an e-mail he sent to me, which I believe was also published recently on h-net:

Women in Early America is an anthology on women in America from contact through the Revolutionary era. Proposals for essays that employ a transnational approach and that rewrite master narratives are especially encouraged. As the volume is largely intended for use in undergraduate courses, essays that are written for that audience and that address major themes in women’s and gender history courses are also particularly desirable.

New York University Press has expressed strong interest in publishing this project. I’m in the process now of soliciting proposals for chapters so that I may put together a book prospectus within the next few months to secure a contract. If you are interested in proposing an essay for this volume, please send an abstract and cv to tfoster4 AT depaul DOT eduContinue Reading »

3 Comments »

June 7th 2011
The intellectual value of being wrong

Posted under American history & Berkshire Conference & conferences & European history & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & women's history

I’m off to a conference this week, and I’ve been thinking about some of the wacky papers I’ve given over the years.  I’ve always looked at conferences as opportunities to test out new ideas, and the best times I’ve had at conferences have been times when I’ve delivered a paper that offers a fresh–some would say dubious–new interpretation or argument.  After all, most conference papers are 10 pages long and should take no more than 20 minutes of the audience’s time–it’s not like we’re going to be able to clobber them with a truly convincing pile of evidence, so why not focus more on the specific interventions we’re making?

I once gave a conferece paper titled “Fields of Screams,” after an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon on an old episode of The Simpsons.  It was about borderlands warfare and masculinity, and although I discarded the specific argument in that paper it helped me work out some ideas about space and gender.  Recently, I’ve been having fun shocking people with Judith Bennett’s “lesbian-like” interpretive frame for understanding eighteenth-century Ursulines.  I’m not sure where this idea is going, but it’s fascinating to see some people react so strongly and so negatively to the use of the word “lesbian” to talk about the eighteenth century!  Continue Reading »

28 Comments »

May 6th 2011
Should colleges ban fraternities?

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & race & students

Sorry, boys!

That’s the question under discussion today at the New York Times’ feature, “Room for Debate,” starring Historiann BFF Nicholas L. Syrett of the University of Northern Colorado, author of The Company He Keeps:  A History of White College Fraternities (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2009).  Nick gets the debate started with a strong opinion grounded in his research on the history of frats:

The chicken-or-egg question is this: do fraternities promote misogyny in members or do freshmen with retrograde gender politics seek out fraternity membership? The answer is both. We all join organizations whose values already match our own. But by promoting one version of masculinity – hard drinking and sexually aggressive – fraternities pressure men to change in order to earn membership and status within them.

Either way, if colleges support organizations promoting these attitudes, they tacitly condone them as well, encouraging men to believe there is a place for such beliefs on campus. The colleges themselves are thus culpable, which is precisely the point of the suit lodged against Yale.

I found most of the other debaters’ comments to be surprisingly wishy-washy, even those who agree with Syrett that fraternities are notorious sites of anti-intellectualism, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault.  Continue Reading »

41 Comments »

May 2nd 2011
Sausage party, or wiener roast? Founding Fathers/Presidential Chic, again!

Posted under American history & book reviews & Gender & GLBTQ & women's history

David Eisenbach, co-author of One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History along with pR0n king Larry Flynt, has responded to my critique of his book, which was more a critique of the genre than of his book in particular.  As some readers may recall, this was the nut of my comments:

It’s funny (and by funny, I guess I mean LOLSOB) how some analyses (like those offered by the feminists and queers) go from being dangerous, unsourced, risky, out-on-a-limb evidence problems, to being conventional wisdom in about 30 seconds these days.  Too bad for you, historians of sexuality–it looks like you risked your careers, your fortunes, and your sacred honor only to get buried in a footnote in a book by Joseph Ellis or Robert Remini, because those are the only books any authors of popular histories will ever read or cite.

These comments are of course aligned with my overall critique of Founding Fathers/Presidential history, which I explained most recently last summer:

Here’s a suggestion, boys:  just stop writing about the so-called “Founding Fathers!”  Stop it!  Stop!  Go find something new, interesting, and utterly undiscovered in the archives, for a change!

Like I said:  “the gamut from A to B” in early American history.  It’s all the so-called Founding Fathers, all of the time.  ((Yawn.)) 

Eisenbach replied to last week’s post on his new book like this: Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

April 26th 2011
Larry Flynt, time hater

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & publication & race & wankers & women's history

Time Haters

Via Salon, we learn that Larry Flynt and Columbia University political historian David Eisenbach have written a book together, One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History.  It looks for the most part like the kind of book you’d expect Larry Flynt and a political historian to write–it’s built at least 80% around secondary sources and it offers almost no acknowlegement or citation of the pioneering historians who made this kind of book possible (the feminists and the gays, of course). 

Instead, the footnotes I’ve been able to vet (via the book’s page at Amazon) offer just the usual parade of biographies of (in the words of my kiddie encyclopedia collection) “great men and famous deeds.”  Kudos for citing Catherine Allgor’s A Perfect Union, her new bio of Dolley Madison, and Clarence Walker’s Mongrel Nation, though–otherwise in the notes for the first chapter, it’s all founding fathers, founding brothers, the dogs and barn cats of the founding fathers, etc.  Shocking, I know.

It’s funny (and by funny, I guess I mean LOLSOB) how some analyses (like those offered by the feminists and queers) go from being dangerous, unsourced, risky, out-on-a-limb evidence problems, to being conventional wisdom in about 30 seconds these days.  Too bad for you, historians of sexuality–it looks like you risked your careers, your fortunes, and your sacred honor only to get buried in a footnote in a book by Joseph Ellis or Robert Remini, because those are the only books any authors of popular histories will ever read or cite.  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

April 15th 2011
Seminal developments: entitled sexist a$$holes divide surgeons’ group

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

This would actually be a pretty funny story for The Onion, if it weren’t in fact true (h/t to my horrified physician friend KV):

A Valentine’s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.

The editorial, written by Dr. Lazar J. Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, extols the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women. It begins with a reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, then goes on to discuss studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together. Citing the research of evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York, it describes how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers who had not, concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

The organization has more than 75,000 members (I am one). Roughly 10 percent are women. There are five women on the organization’s 22-member governing board; this month, they issued a letter requesting that Dr. Greenfield step down as president-elect. The entire board is set to vote on the issue on Sunday.

Seriously.  Re-read those paragraphs again.  Especially the part about how this was published in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons.  And click on the link, too, to be informed by the headline “Sexism charges divide surgeons’ group.”  That’s right:  sexism charges are dividing the group, not the disgusting sexist behavior itself. Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

April 6th 2011
Wednesday round-up: How-to edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & students & women's history

Howdy, friends.  I’ve got lots of readin’ and writin’ for my day job to get done today, but fortunately there are other paths to enlightenment on the world-wide non peer-reviewed internets:

10 Comments »

March 24th 2011
Thursday Round-up: What’s Cookin’? edition

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & students & the body & unhappy endings & weirdness & women's history

Man food--again??

Howdy howdy howdy!  Thursday is my busy day, but here at the Historiann chuckwagon we’ve got a few things for you to chow down on:

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