Histories of Queer Cosmopolitanism

Cosmopolitan networks—the systems made by writers and translators, activists and martyrs across political and geographical borders—have recently come to the fore of humanities studies. This conference will examine how cases, methods, and archives of cosmopolitanism shift when studied through the prism of LGBTQ+ identity. In what ways, we ask, has queerness hindered, aided, or altered the formation of cosmopolitan networks? What are the differences between cosmopolitan networks, normative globalisms, and what Jack Halberstam has defined as ‘queer counterpublics’?  What constitutes an LGBTQ+ history, and when can we speak of a self-conscious queer historical practice? What are the benefits and drawbacks to using ‘queer’ to apply to periods that predate the term and its conceptual framework? What is the relationship between queer literature and queer history? Finally, we must ask how the resources available to scholars and organisers, students and activists preempt and inform the types of histories we tell. What role do University libraries and public collections play? What are the differences in how queer histories are told within and outside the academy?

To address these questions, the conference will take an inter-disciplinary approach, bringing together scholars of literature, gender studies, and history with archivists, public historians, and rare book collectors who specialise in LGBTQ+ materials. Participants include: Fraser Riddell, English Departmental Lecturer at Oxford; Philip Schofield, Professor of Political Thought at UCL and supervisor for the Bentham Project; Stefan Dickers, Special Collections and Archives Manager at the Bishopsgate Institute; Stuart Frost, Head of Interpretation and Volunteers at the British Museum; and Gerard Koskovich, a public historian, rare books dealer, and one of the founders of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. 

The programme is available.