“Mainstream Fiction, Gay Reviewers, and Gay Male Cultural Politics in the 1970s,” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 16, no. 3 (2010): 389-427. Read online (PDF).* Abstract:
An analysis of gay male reviewers’ responses to major commercial publishers’ expanded offerings of fiction by and about gay people during the 1970s reveals how reviewers constructed a machinery of gay-identified criticism, negotiated new definitions of gay identity, and forged a community of gay intellectuals and authors intent on using their own mainstream success to make evident to all the creativity and value of contemporary gay life. By decade’s end, this gay literary elite had developed ideas about gay cultural politics and the proper relationship between activism and commercial cultural production that differed distinctly from those of gay political organizations and other gay activists. These developments sketch a richer and more complicated story of the evolution of gay identity and gay politics—particularly the politics of visibility—after Stonewall.
Review of Heather Murray, Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America, in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 47, no. 4 (Fall 2011). Read online (subscription required).
- “Observing this Memorial Day,” Harvard University Press Blog (May 24, 2013)
- “Boy Scouts in America: Or, Scrutiny in the Archive,” guest post at The Lazy Scholar (September 1, 2010)
- “Divided States #3: Connecticut Connections,” guest post at The Lazy Scholar (July 28, 2010)
In 2010-2011, I used this website to blog semi-regularly about my then-current research, contemporary politics and culture, LGBT issues, and other topics related to my academic interests. Here are some highlights (or click for the full archive):
- Some reflections on following the AHA on Twitter (January 10, 2011)
- The color of Scouting during World War II (September 1, 2010)
- When country music, regional resentment, and gender politics collide (August 22, 2010)
- Tough questions (June 9, 2010)
- ‘Colorful administrations’ (May 6, 2010)
“Visibility Matters: Fair Representation and American Belonging in the Age of Moving Image,” Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University. Visibility Matters is the history of a notion: that in the twentieth-century United States, to be fully present and fairly portrayed in movies and on television was both a prelude to other forms of inclusion and, in itself, an essential part of true national belonging. Virtually since the birth of the motion picture as a commercial entertainment with a mass audience in 1910s, through the movies’ maturation and then their battle for supremacy with television, and through to the rise of TV as the predominant medium for mass entertainment by the 1960s and 1970s, this conviction prompted racial, ethnic, religious minorities, and eventually other marginalized social groups as well, to criticize what they saw on screen, and to organize and agitate to change it. Even as Irish Americans and Jews, African Americans and women, and Latinos and gays and lesbians struggled to dismantle the legal, political, and social structures that enforced their marginalization, many were preoccupied by whether people like them were fairly represented on screen. They were certain that their visibility mattered.
Over the course of the twentieth century, each of these groups laid claim to full citizenship and seized some share of the political and cultural power once wielded by a narrow elite. Simultaneously, new media technologies and mass cultural forms fundamentally altered how Americans learned about the modernizing world around them, spent their leisure time, and interacted with one another. By tracing the history of its titular notion—an evolving but persistently powerful way of thinking that viewed political and cultural incorporation as worthy, tightly interconnected goals—Visibility Matters provides a novel perspective on these two momentous transformations, their deep entanglement with one another, and the changes they together wrought in American life.
* This article is publicly archived here according to the terms of the Duke University Press Journals publication agreement.