Stonewall and Beyond:  Lesbian and Gay Culture


Lesbian & Gay Studies Group at Columbia

Guest Curators: Julia Giordano and Mario DiGangi, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

In the spring of 1991, a handful of openly gay and lesbian graduate students from the Department of English and Comparative Literature began to talk about the fact that our department had no out faculty and no explicitly queer courses. We decided that we would have to take upon ourselves the responsibility to create and nurture a community for doing lesbian and gay studies. The result was the formation of the Lesbian and Gay Studies Group at Columbia, which brings together students, faculty, and community members to discuss lesbian and gay issues in an open, democratic environment.

The posters in this case (many designed by Paul Douglas) were produced to publicize some of the Studies Group's events, and they demonstrate the range of diverse, interdisciplinary, and sometimes controversial topics we address.

We typically meet twice a month during the school year to discuss academic, theoretical, political, and personal issues at colloquia of from twenty to sixty people. We also have a speaker series to bring some of the most important and exciting figures doing lesbian and gay studies to share their work with the Columbia community, and these lectures have drawn audiences of up to two hundred. This case highlights some of our favorite and most successful events from the past three years.

The largest poster, in the center of the case, advertises a one-day conference we organized in 1992 to further queer intellectual work at Columbia. This conference, we hoped, would connect us with graduate students from other institutions in new York and the Northeast. Rather than focus the conference on a potentially narrow, disciplinary theme, we decided to address more pervasive, and perhaps more elusive, institutional issues relating to lesbian and gay graduate student life.

We called the conference "Crossings Over: Queer Graduate Students and the Academy;" it was attended by more than 100 graduate students, faculty, activists, and intellectuals, representing 15 different universities and fourteen disciplines. The poster image (also designed by Paul Douglas) embodies the energy, anger, and optimism that have galvanized our organizing efforts from the beginning.

Case Displays
(Click on thumbnail for larger-size images)

Is There Time to Theorize? The Relationship Between Cultural Criticism & AIDS Activism, 4/26/91
Identification & Identity in 'The Wings of Desire,' a lecture by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 10/11/91
Carter Heyward Speaking on Power, God & Sex, 12/3/91
The Shut-in Fan: Opera at Home, Wayne Koestenbaum, 4/10/92
Towards a Queer Architecture, a slide presentation and discussion, 9/25/92
Feminist Theory / Queer Theory: Coalitions, Confrontations, Conflicts, 10/9/92
Ethel Waters & Mae West: What Did They Do To Be So Black, White and Blue?, by Margo Jefferson, 12/11/92
Loving Al Pacino: A Lecture-Performance Piece with Music & Film, by Patrick Horrigan, featuring Sarah Chinn as "Dick Cavett," 2/19/93
Crossings Over: Queer Graduate Students & The Academy, 3/6/93

Last revision: 2011-08-24