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Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture Series History

The Sally Miller Gearhart endowment advances lesbian history and culture, promotes dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, supports diversity and empowers lesbian voices in higher education.

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Mignon Moore: Towards a Sociocultural History of Black Lesbian Sexuality and Community

Date: April 12th, 2019

This work examines the development of community and identity around sexual desire for black sexual minority women in the 1950s and early 1960s. Drawing from archival materials, oral histories, in-depth interviews, and African-American periodicals, it argues that the practice of black lesbian identity is historically shaped by two areas of social life: the church, or religious ideologies and structures that organize racial communities, and the streets, or the nightlife and informal economy where public and semi-public expressions of same-sex desire take place.

It is through the intersection of race and sexuality that we learn more about how cultural experiences unify populations organized around same-sex desire. The findings encourage researchers to think more purposefully about the relationships between racial/ethnic identity and culture in the development of sexual minority communities.

2017: Feeling Photography, Visualizing Testimony, Imagining Alterity, Juana Maria Rodriguez

Date: January 27, 2017

Poster for Sally Miller Gearhart event 2017What does “seeing” tell us about the subjective experiences of those whose life stories we are invested in knowing? And how does the visual presence of the speaking subject of auto/biography complicate narratives of their lives? Rodríguez probes the ways forms of representation that combine biographical narrative with visual documentation transform our affective encounters with the social and sexual lives of sex workers in order to question the kinds of interpretive practices we bring to these knowledge projects. In the process, she reflects on how images and text function as complicated triggers for the attachments,  identifications, desires, and traumas of our own corporeal embodiments and sexual histories.

2016: Queer Longings in Straight Futures: Notes Towards Prehistory for Lesbian Speculations, Alexis Lothian

Date: December 1, 2016

Event poster [see PDF version for recognizable text]The story of lesbian science fiction is generally assumed to begin in the 1970s, as feminist political and literary movements converged with gay liberation. For her forthcoming book Old Futures: The Queer Cultural Politics of Speculative Fiction, Dr. Lothian researched speculative narratives by women, queers, and people of color that are not often included in genre histories of science fiction, from nineteenth-century utopias to twenty-first-century digital media. This talk expands upon arguments made in the book, drawing on her research in early-twentieth-century feminist speculative fiction to examine moments of desire and connection among women. Appearing amid futuristic visions that otherwise reproduce straight and narrow understandings of gender, race, and sexuality, these fleeting nonheteronormative imaginaries complicate our understanding what it has meant, and what it could mean, to speculatively enact the possibility of lesbian worlds.


2015: Afro-Sappho Futurisms: Drawing on the Past to Imagine us into the Future, Ana-Maurine Lara

Date: April 13, 2015

Poster for Sally Miller Gearhart event 2015

Drawing on poetry and critical scholarship, Ana-Maurine Lara will lead audiences into the archives of the imagination, to consider some invisible spaces of lesbian desire, love and freedom from the past as a lexicon for imagining new collective futures.







2013: On Moving Politics: Emotion, Act Up, and Beyond, Deborah Gould

Date: April 17, 2013

Poster for 2013 Sally Miller Gearhart lecture


2011: The Kids Are All Right, But the Lesbians Aren’t: Queer Kinship in Modern Media, Suzanna Danuta Walters

Date: April 12, 2011

poster for 2011 Sally Miller Gearhart


2009: The Incredibly Shrinking Lesbian World and Other Queer Conundra, Arlene Stein

Date: May 27, 2009

Poster for 2009 Sally Miller Gearhart eventThe first annual Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies, featuring Arlene Stein. Stein is the author of three books and the editor of two collections of essays including Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation. The first Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies attracted a full house — community members, faculty, staff and students. Subsequently, Arlene Stein published her work in the Journal of Sexualities with reference to her presentation, the inaugural presentation of the Sally Miller Gearhart Fund.

Download Arlene Stein’s article, “The Incredible Shrinking Lesbian World and other Queer Conundra