That's So Gay: Outing Early America

(Feb 14–Oct 17, 2014)
Collaborator for exhibit at the Library Company of Philadelphia; Editor of and contributor to exhibit materials and literature

How can we tell what it was like to be gay in earlier periods? Ultimately, we cannot know whether a person who lived in the past would have identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender today. Nevertheless, scholars have developed a number of strategies for getting at related questions. Individuals took part in same-sex relationships, wrote poems and novels celebrating such relationships, deviated from gender norms, and suffered for transgressive behavior in ways that are well-documented in the historical record. Beneath the covers of our books there are many stories. To paraphrase the late gay activist Harry Hay (1912-2002), history knows more about gay people than it knows it knows.

Brown Bag Workshop Series, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

(Sept 2016–Apr 2017)
Coordinator; Host

This annual series at the McNeil Center showcases strong scholarship from PhD Candidates completing dissertations in Early American literature, history, and art criticism. The 2016-17 series will feature papers on erotic revivalist accounts from the Great Awakening, theological perspectives on body-snatching and dissection in the early republic, representations of African American motherhood in the antebellum North, and inter-imperial disputes between French and English settlers over Newfoundland cod fisheries in the 1760s, among others.


Queer Method

(Oct 31–Nov 1, 2013) 
Organizer; Fundraiser

As its institutional footing becomes more robust, queer studies finds itself increasingly torn between anti- and inter-disciplinary impulses. ‘Queer Method,’ a conference to be hosted at the University of Pennsylvania October 31 and November 1 2013, takes this context as its focus, examining not what the subject of queer theory should be, but rather how its work has been and might be done.

Cordelia Krats (or Stark) as a man, from “The Remarkable Narrative of Cordelia Krats, or The Female Wanderer,” published in 1846 (Collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia)

Cordelia Krats (or Stark) as a man, from “The Remarkable Narrative of Cordelia Krats, or The Female Wanderer,” published in 1846 (Collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia)

The T in LGBT

(Oct 2016) 
Organizer; Host 

Organized by Connie King, Bob Skiba, and myself
"The T in LGBT" will host a talk by Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History at Amherst College, on transgender and gender-nonconforming people in early America at the William Way LGBT Center. This program is part of #PastPresentPride, a free two-part lecture series exploring sexual identity in literature and media, and the history of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, hosted by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Values of Color, Penn Humanities Forum

(Feb 2015) 

This symposium is an opportunity to prompt conversations among artists and academics across multiple disciplines on the history of political, economic and aesthetic values attached to color. We want to consider the descriptive language of color—how we evoke color with and/or through value-laden words or actions, how we assign qualities or quantities to different colors, and how color is experienced through taste or touch as well as sight.