Welcome to CamQueerHistory! We're a group of undergrads, grads and staff at the University of Cambridge putting on a series of events for LGBTQ+ History Month 2019. We'd like to thank CUSU, CUSU LGBT+, Pembroke College Graduate Parlour, Selwyn College MCR and LGBTQ+@cam for their support in funding our events. See our event calendar below for what is organised so far, and watch this space for lots more in the near future :) (events organised by other groups in grey)

Queer historical poesy labJanuary Tuesday 22nd 7pm
Bateman room, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street
We are interested in the intersections of queerness, history and poetry. This semi-regular ‘lab’ will be both workshop for poetry on queer historical themes and reading group for discussing queerness in (literary) history and how poetry can function to illuminate this. Bring pieces to work on or discuss, or simply come to listen and get involved in the discussion of others’ contributions.

An Introduction to Queer HistoryFebruary Friday 1st 5pm
Andrew LumsdenNihon Room, Pembroke College
Delivered by original Gay Liberation Front (GLF) Activist and co-founder of Gay News Andrew Lumsden, this talk begins just prior to the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 and works forward to the modern day. The talk will stop off at significant moments in Queer History in this time period, with emphasis on the Labouchere Amendment and on the activities of the GLF in the early 1970’s. The talk will end by looking at the modern context, and will allow ample room for questions to be answered by the speaker.

Queer well-being workshopFebruary Saturday 2nd 2pm
Michael BrownNihon Room, Pembroke College, Trumpington Street
Michael Brown hosts mindfulness colouring in, creative crafts and queer arts in a social and relaxing environment. Drop in and stay as little or long as you like! All welcome.

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible. For enquiries, contact Michael (m a b 2 3 3 @ c a m . a c . u k).

“Nothing Ever Just Disappears”: innovative queer writing in America in the 1980sFebruary Monday 4th 6pm
Dr Diarmuid Hester, University of CambridgeHoward Theatre, Downing College
The subject of this talk is New Narrative, a vibrant but now little-known queer literary movement which was bubbling under the surface of America during the 1980s. Sexy, formally innovative, and politically-charged, New Narrative stories and novels gave voice to individual experience, while at the same time trying to strengthen relationships in LGBTQ communities at the height of the AIDS crisis. This talk explores some examples of these radical, experimental tales of the city and argues for their influence on contemporary American fiction.

To read the texts in advance, please email the speaker (d e h 4 0 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Bio: Diarmuid Hester is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in English at the University of Cambridge and a College Research Associate of Emmanuel College. His work is broadly concerned with radical politics and post-war American culture. Current projects include Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper (forthcoming, University of Iowa Press) and a counterhistory of New York art and culture from the vantage point of waste.

Accessibility info: for accessiblity enquiries, contact Liam (l m p 5 7 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Sisterhood, sawdust and squattingFebruary Thursday 7th 5pm
Dr Chris Wall (University of Westminster)Chadwick room, Selwyn College, Cambridge
This talk uses personal testimonies from an oral history project aiming to record the memories of lesbian women who squatted and created a community of over a hundred women in Hackney throughout the 1970s and 1980s. As part of the wider London squatting movement, by the mid-70s estimated at over 30,000 people, the squats were all located in vacant, substandard housing owned by local authorities and earmarked either for demolition or rehabilitation. Repaired and restored by women the squats provided unusual access to housing and the freedom to set up radical experiments in collective living and alternative urban communities. For young lesbians it was an opportunity for self-determination, to live autonomously, and to imagine and create a different world. This talk reveals how this new community, which appeared in the historic houses around London Fields, engaged directly with the built environment, interacted with the local neighbourhood and statutory bodies, while at the same time being embedded within, and contributing to, the wider women's liberation movement in London.

Bio: Christine Wall is Reader in Architectural and Construction History, University of Westminster, Co-Editor of The Construction History Journal, editor of The Oral History Journal, and member of the Oral History Society LGBTQ Special Interest Group.

(This talk is rescheduled from last year when it was cancelled due to the strike)

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible. For enquiries, contact George (g j s 5 3 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Rainbow Pilgrims ExhibitionFebruary Saturday 9th 2019 (all day)
South Lecture Room, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
Explore the rites and passages of LGBTQI migrants in Britain through this incredible interactive exhibition. Available to view for one day only.

Conducting a queer oral history of bisexualityFebruary Wednesday 13th 5pm
Martha Robinson Rhodes, University of BirminghamChadwick room, Selwyn College
History of bisexuality and multiple gender attraction in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s.

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible. For enquiries, contact George (g j s 5 3 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Modern histories of queer censorshipFebruary Friday 15th 6pm
Naoise Murphy & Lloyd (Meadhbh) HoustonChadwick Room, Selwyn College
Come and hear two talks on the theme of queerness and censorship:

Oxford’s Dirty Secret: Telling the Story of Phi
Conceived in 1882 as a literary ‘Siberia’ in which ‘improper books’ could be kept out of the hands of impressionable undergraduates, in the first decades of the twentieth-century the Bodleian’s ‘Φ’ (Phi) collection served as an ark within which queer writing, sexological texts, and avant-garde publications could weather the storms of obscenity prosecutions and Customs seizures. Despite having held in its time almost 3,100 literary, medical, and erotic texts, the Phi collection does not feature in any of the major published histories of the Bodleian and remained virtually unknown even to those within the university.

In this lecture I will discuss the Phi as a resource for queer people and queer scholarship, past and present, sketch some of the unexpected affinities it establishes between and among canonical and less well-known queer texts, and explore some of the paradoxes it presents as a collection in which queer identities and queer culture were negotiated, policed, and preserved.

Speaker: Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston is Hertford College – Faculty of English DPhil Scholar in Irish Literature in English at the University of Oxford. Their thesis explores Irish modernism and the politics of sexual health. Other research interests include literature and the law, queer modernisms, and the institutional construction of obscenity.


Kate O'Brien's queer transnational feminism
“She saw Etienne and her father, in the embrace of love.”
The banning of Kate O’Brien’s 1942 novel The Land of Spices – for this single mention of homosexuality - became a useful shorthand for the Irish State’s attitude towards queerness in the twentieth century. Any mention of sexuality in literature was likely to be censored; queer sexuality was unmentionable, at least overtly. The radical queerness of Kate O’Brien’s work, however, is not contained in this almost prudish depiction of two men embracing. The element of The Land of Spices that queerly threatens the values of the nationalist state is its woman-centred vision of transnational feminism, of a world that prioritises the intellectual and sexual fulfilment of women and girls. In the banned novels Mary Lavelle and The Land of Spices, and across her oeuvre, O’Brien’s dissenting voice articulates possibilities for queer Irishness, troubling the entrenched heterosexism of the nationalist state censorship regime.

Speaker: Naoise Murphy recently completed her MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests are in queer theory, transnationalism and literary modernism, especially the Irish writers Kate O’Brien and Elizabeth Bowen.

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible. For enquiries, contact George (g j s 5 3 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Sappho: A Very Short Cultural HistoryFebruary Monday 18th 6pm
Prof. Edith HallSelwyn College, Cambridge
We have only few dozen verses composed by Sappho of Lesbos more than 26 centuries ago, and yet her life, work, and sexuality have made her one of the most famous authors in history. This talk explores the little we know about her life, then looks at some of the representations, misrepresentations and cultural echoes of Sappho in more recent times, asking what truth, they contain, if any.

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible. For enquiries, contact George (g j s 5 3 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Queerness in medieval religionFebruary Tuesday 19th 530pm
Jonah Coman & Lee ColwillBateman Room, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street
Come and listen to a pair of talks on queerness in medieval religion and mythology!

Queer(y)ing the past: Rediscovering gender non-conforming narratives in the middle ages
Speaker: Jonah Coman (Glasgow School of Art)
Queer people have a strained relationship with Christianity and its far-reaching influence in a non-religious world. A mythological past of the Christian church has been weaponised for the past two centuries in order to condemn same-sex attraction and gender variance. This talk sheds a light on queer practitioners in the medieval church and argues that gender variance was historically not only accepted, but encouraged by Christianity.

Queer Themes in Norse Mythology
Speaker: Lee Colwill (University of Cambridge)
The relatively small corpus of Norse mythology contains a significant number of stories in which non-normative gendered and sexual behaviour feature prominently. The most obvious example of this is the god Loki, whose ability to transform his sex and even species is both help and hindrance to the other gods, but other examples include Odin, Thor, and several occurrences of warrior women, all of whom move between gendered identities. These instances allow us to build up a picture of a mythological world in which categories of gender were by no means discrete and challenge the idea of the Viking Age as a hypermasculine era which had no room for queer existence.

Accessibility info: there is a short flight of steps to the room. For inquiries, contact Tam (t t b 2 6 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Seen but not heard: Lesbian identities in New ZealandFebruary Friday 22nd 6pm
Evan Hazenberg (University of Sussex)Bateman room, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street
New Zealand decriminalised homosexuality in 1986, which was followed by a substantial and relatively swift change in social attitudes over the next couple of decades. Using sociolinguistic data from queer and straight New Zealanders, some of whom came of age before law reform and some after, this talk examines some of the sociophonetic correlates of lesbian identities in New Zealand against two very different social backdrops.

Accessibility info: there is a short flight of steps to the room. For enquiries, contact Tam (t t b 2 6 @ c a m . a c . u k).

Queer(y)ing the Past: An Afternoon of Alternative Archaeology - with wine!February Tuesday 26th 2pm
Henry Wellcome Building, Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge CB2 1QH
A series of short talks will explore the topic of sexuality and gender in the past. Talks will also address the issues of undertaking field research as LGBTQ+ archaeologists. No registration required.

Keynote: Prof Richard Parkinson, Oxford University, “Moments of Identification: LGBTQ+ History and Heritage”.

Film screening: A Fantastic Woman February Wednesday 27th 5pm
Dr Liz Harvey-Kattou, University of WestminsterThe Auditorium, Cripps Court, Magdelene College
This powerful, personal and intimate drama tells the story of Marina and how she deals with the death of her older boyfriend. The film deals with transphobia and grief, but remains both very individual and hopeful. Dr Liz Harvey-Kattou (University of Westminster) will give a talk on identity in Spanish-language cinema to introduce the film.

Accessibility info: the room is wheelchair accessible.