Friday, November 15, 2013

Join the conversation about “That’s So Gay”!

“That’s So Gay: Outing Early America”—an exhibition featuring textual and visual material in the Library Company’s collections that relates to gay history—will open in February 2014. An accompanying blog being launched this month previews the themes of the exhibition and invites participants to join in the fun. The blog is moderated by Don James McLaughlin, a doctoral student in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research focuses on homosexuality across the 19th century.

Featured in the exhibition will be the first edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855), as well as the important third edition with the Calamus poems and the discussion of “adhesive” love.  Also on display will be portraits of the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, with her short hair and cravat, alongside contemporaries’ commentaries on her as “too independent of conventionalities; too masculine in her habits.” Beyond our important and collectible books and prints, “That’s So Gay” shows off the great depth of the Library Company’s collections, which make it possible to embed iconic texts and images in historical context. 

Consider the blog your opportunity to tell us more about items in the exhibition, to ask questions about the further resources in the collection, or to help queer early America by contributing your own material and interpretations related to this too-often-invisible aspect of the  American experience.

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