BERKSHIRE WOMEN'S HISTORY CONFERENCE

June 1-4, 2017

Panel Session:  Making Meaning in Intimate and Social Spaces:

The Heart of the U.S. Lesbian and Gay Movement

Abstract:

The heart of identity movements rests on the everyday lives of individuals as they create alternative social spaces and models of intimacy and family.  These social and intimate spaces are replete with stories, narratives, art and literature that bring into being and solidify new meanings and possibilities.  At the same time, established hierarchies of race and space reinforce old patterns in new spaces.  The history of the lesbian and gay movements, particularly in the California Bay Area,  has focused primarily on the visible activists and demonstrations that carried the movement forward.  This panel explores the meanings and narratives that are conjured in social and intimate spaces between women friends and lovers--in the bars, on the softball fields, at home, and through letters.  These spaces produced “new” lesbian (and gay men’s) identities and families in the 1960s and 70s whose meanings themselves shifted over time in response to the movement for lesbian and gay rights.

Chair: Ardis Cameron, University of Southern Maine

Ellen Lewin (in absentia), University of Iowa: “Baby Steps: The Voyage of Lesbian and Gay Families from the Shadows to the Center of Civil Rights Debates”

Anya Jabour, University of Montana: “'What Women Who Share in Life and Work Can Mean to the World’: Edith Abbott and Sophonisba Breckinridge at the University of Chicago, 1903-1948”

Evelyn Blackwood, Purdue University: “Dreams of a New World: The Intimate Spaces of Lesbian Movement Building in the 1970s”

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