Early American Transgender Studies


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

A revolution in transgender rights in the United States is underway. Once marginalized and denigrated by mainstream society, the medical establishment, the legal system, and even the lesbian and gay rights movement, transgender people are increasingly gaining rights and recognition. This seminar will survey a wide range of transgender practices from the past and explore the intersection between the fields of early American history and transgender studies. Students will work extensively with the American Antiquarian Society archival riches, including newspapers, dime novels, children’s literature, crime fiction, adventure narratives, and reports from carceral institutions. The course will cover key theories of gender from the eighteenth century to the present, including the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, and sexuality. We will explore the methodological issues involved in researching sexual and gender minority communities that predate our contemporary concepts of identity and our rapidly changing terminology. Students will conduct an original research paper based on the archival holdings of the American Antiquarian Society. All-gender, single-user restrooms are readily accessible to the classroom.

Seminar Leader