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People with a History: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History Sourcebook

History and Theory

Editor: Paul Halsall


Introduction: History and Theory

Go to the following pages for other parts of People with a History


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Chapter 1: History and Theory

For teachers of courses on LGBT subjects an important choice is always whether to address "events and people" or "theory" first. In most areas of history this is simply not an issue: courses focus on periods and any relevant "theory" -- for example, Marxist economics, Whig politics -- is discussed as it come up. But LGBT history almost from the outset has been intertwined with complex discussions about what makes a "homosexual". It is also true that much of the evidence about "homosexuality" in the past survives in sources which have long been of interest to philologists, philosophers, and literary critics. The result is that the field is awash with jargonistic discussions. These discussions are not, however, pointless, and have raised basic questions about the entire arena of the history of human sexuality.



  • David M. Halperin: Eribon, D.: Michel Foucault [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, trans. Betsy Wing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991 [Was at Upenn, now Internet Archive]
  • Kathryn Gutzwiller: Halperin, D.M., One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [A gushing review] [Was at Upenn, now Internet Archive]
  • Amy Richlin: Halperin, D.M.: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years Of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [Less gushing] [Was at Upenn, now Internet Archive]
  • Alison M. Keith: Winkler, J.J.: The Constraints of Desire[Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] John J. Winkler. The Constraints of Desire. The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece. New York & London: Routledge, 1990. [Was at Upen, now Internet Archive]
  • Review of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (1990) [Was At Gay Book Reviews, now Internet Archive]
    One of the most influential books on queer theory.
  • Thomas Hubbard: How to Do the History of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Classical Review] David M. Halperin, How to do the history of homosexuality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002  [At BMCR] [Internet Archive version here]
  • Websites:

    • WEB Queer Frontiers [At USC. link to defunct site at Internet Archive]
      Was an important "Queer Theory" site.
    • WEB Foucault Home Page [At CSUN] [Internet Archive version here]
      Discussion of the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault has been central to some recent historiography of LGBT's. This is probably the best Foucault site, and has links to others. The links page here provides references to sites concerned with the other divinities of "theory" - Nietzsche, Lacan, Heidigger, Derrida, Deleuze. Some would argue it is all a commentary on Nietzsche. [no longer maintained]
    • WEB The Gay Gene [Was At AOL, now Internet Archive]
      A site run by Chandler Burr for "both scientists and non-scientists. It contains articles and links to ongoing studies. Much of the "critical theory" aspect of discussion about LGBT history has been founded on the assumption that "sexuality" is a human "social construction". This notion does have solid backing from anthropological data. A major challenge to the "constructionist" position has arisen with the publication of a number of different studies which suggest that homosexuality has a genetic basis in at least some people.
    • WEB The Scientific Debate on Homosexuality [Was At, now Internet Archive]
      Slightly "lighter" than the Gay Gene site.
    • WEB Scientific Inquiries into Sexual Orientation [At CMU] [Internet Archive version here]
    • WEB How to look for records of...Sexuality and gender identity history [At The National Archives UK]

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    People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Date of inception was 1997. People with a History is a www site presenting history relevant to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people, through primary sources, secondary discussions, and images. Links to files at other site are indicated by [At some indication of the site name or location]. WEB  indicates a link to one of small number of high quality web sites which provide either more texts or an especially valuable overview.

    The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

    © Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 3 May 2024 [CV]