10/8 History of Women, Gender & Sexuality Seminar at the MHS: Queer Institutions

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Queer Institutions – A Panel Discussion

Authors: Marc Stein, San Francisco State University; Ashley Ruderman-Looff, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Comment: Aaron S. Lecklider, UMass Boston

Thursday 8 October
5:15 PM

Virtual Event


This panel discussion considers the queer histories of two modern institutions: colleges and prisons. Marc Stein explores how activists at more than twenty colleges went to court in the 1970s to challenge their institutions’ refusal to recognize LGBT student groups. Stein’s paper analyzes these cases and situates the successful litigation at Virginia Commonwealth University in relation to contemporaneous Virginia rulings that upheld the criminalization of same-sex sodomy and the prosecution of an interracial threesome. Ashley Ruderman-Looff’s essay considers the Lavender Scare's impact on women's prison reform. Her essay tells the story of Dr. Miriam Van Waters, a superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women who was dismissed from her post in 1949. This paper analyzes Van Waters’ subversive use of the Rorschach inkblot test, allowing her to eschew homosexual diagnosis and include queer women in the reformatory’s rehabilitative programs.

The History of Women, Gender & Sexuality Seminar at the Massachusetts Historical Society invites you to join the conversation on Thursday 8 October at 5:15 PM. The seminar brings together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop pre-circulated papers. After brief remarks from the authors and an assigned commentator, the discussion is opened to the floor. All are encouraged to ask questions, provide feedback on the circulated essays, and discuss the topic at hand. Our sessions are free and open to everyone. Register above to attend, and you will receive a confirmation message with instructions for attending this virtual session.

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Questions? Email seminars@masshist.org.

Categories: Seminar
Keywords: Keywords: Public Seminar