In Visible Archives: Queer and Feminist Visual Culture in the 1980s
(University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming Fall 2023)
My first book examines how women created visual art in feminist and gay and lesbian activist circles to theorize their embodied sexuality and build supportive communities, discussing both their contemporary reception as well as the legacies of these ephemeral artworks as they migrated into archives. These art forms have existed in visible archives but have not yet been fully recognized for their important theorizations of women’s sexuality or how they set the foundation for contemporary feminist visual culture. Bringing together a decade’s worth of research in over a dozen grassroots and university archives, I analyze comics, collages, photographs, drawings, transparencies, advertisements, and other image-text media produced by eight women: Hannah Alderfer, Beth Jaker, Marybeth Nelson, Roberta Gregory, Lee Marrs, Alison Bechdel, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Nan Goldin.
I argue that visibility is tenuous and not guaranteed, and the conditions of visibility for diverse sexual identities are hard-won and narrowly-kept. These artists faced censorship and critique even from within their own movements as they tried to make their lives and sexualities visible. These women and countless others are preserved in visible archives, but their hopes for future community have yet to be secured in a world in which being women and/or queer remains dangerous and revolutionary. In Visible Archives underlines the renewed need for broad-based feminist movements that secure the future by building on the rich foundation of the past.
This book will appeal to readers interested in feminist and queer social movement histories, feminist and queer history, print and visual culture, comics studies, and archives.
Archives consulted: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California; Special Collections & University Archives at Cal State University, Long Beach; Paul Brians and Lynn R. Hansen comics collections at Washington State University; Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin; Queer Zine Archive Project in Milwaukee, WI; the Comic Art Collection of the Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection at Michigan State University; Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University; Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College; Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University; Fales Library at New York University; Barnard Center for Research on Women Records in Barnard Archives & Special Collections, Barnard College; various research divisions at the New York Public Library; and Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. Also digital archival collections, including the Alexander Street Press Underground and Independent Comics Collection; Independent Voices Collection at Reveal Digital; and Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
Grants and fellowships awarded: two Doctoral Student Research Grants (2012, 2014); three Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) Knickerbocker Awards for Archival Research in American Studies (2013, 2014, 2015); Gloria Anzaldúa CMAS-Benson Latin American Collection Short-Term Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin (2013); New York City Digital Humanities Graduate Student Digital Project Award (2015); Mary Lily Research Grant from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University (2016); Travel-to-Collections Grant from the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College (2016); Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) Summer Residency Project in Milwaukee, WI (2017); Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund (HSEF) from the University of Florida (2018).
Prizes for related research: The Monette Prize for the Best Dissertation in Lesbian/Gay Studies from The Graduate Center, CUNY (2016); Florence Howe Award for feminist scholarship in the field of English for “Archiving Wimmen: Collectives, Networks, & Comix” from the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages (2017); Runner-Up, Norman Foerster Prize contest for best essay published annually in American Literature for “‘The Lesbian Norman Rockwell’: Alison Bechdel & Queer Grassroots Networks” (2018); Crompton-Noll Essay Prize of the GLQ Caucus of the MLA for “‘The Lesbian Norman Rockwell’: Alison Bechdel & Queer Grassroots Networks” (2018); Honorable Mention, 2018-19 Article Prize from the Research Society for American Periodicals (RSAP) for “‘The Lesbian Norman Rockwell’: Alison Bechdel & Queer Grassroots Networks” (2020).
Comics in Movement
This second book project examines how transnational communities of LGBTQ cartoonists innovated comics through various grassroots formats in the 1980s-1990s. While these cartoonists crucially documented LGBTQ life and activism in a moment when the community was facing government neglect of the HIV/AIDS crisis and disregard for their civil liberties, their comics have been largely forgotten since they were published in ephemeral forms affiliated with social movements: anthologies, newsletters, periodicals, zines, etc. Based on extensive archival research, each chapter focuses on different grassroots publishing formats and shows how cartoonists wielded these neglected forms to develop their comics and build community. By making available comics that have been buried for decades and recovering histories that have never been told, this project excavates a story of vibrant queer community to inspire a new generation at a time when LGBTQ people face renewed threats.
Archives consulted: Special Collections & Archives at Bishopsgate Institute in London, UK; Wellcome Collection in London, UK; The British Library; Stonewall National Museum & Archives in Fort Lauderdale, FL; GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Public Library; The LGBT Community Center National History Archive in New York, NY; various research divisions at the New York Public Library. Also digital archival collections, including the Alexander Street Press Underground and Independent Comics Collection; Independent Voices Collection at Reveal Digital; Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender; and open-access digitized grassroots media.
Grants and fellowships awarded: Global Fellows Program from the University of Florida International Center (2019); Humanities Scholarship Enhancement Fund from the University of Florida (2021); Distinguished Junior External Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center (2021-2022); Junior Fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) at Rare Book School (RBS) (2021-2023); Charles T. Woods Faculty Grant from the Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research at the University of Florida (2022).