The First Queer Studies Department in the U.S.  
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Welcome to Ruth Mahaney 's World

Ruth has lived in San Francisco since 1971, witnessing firsthand the explosion of both the Women's Movement and Gay Liberation. Ruth Mahaney has taught at City College since the mid 1990's, Ruth specializes in GLBT History, but also teaches Women's Studies courses, and Queer Art and Culture. Ruth shares, "I love to attend rallies and demonstrations, and I'm proud to have participated in the White Night Riots". Ruth is a pioneer in the teaching of Women's Studies, beginning in 1972 at Santa Rosa Junior College, and later becoming Women's Studies Coordinator at Sonoma State University. She went on to teach both Women's Studies and GLBT Studies for 18 years at San Francisco State University. As a collective member of Modern Times Bookstore since 1981, Ruth gets to interact with progressive activists and listen to fabulous authors discuss their work. Ruth has also served on the Board of Directors of the GLBT Historical Society for over 15 years. The Historical Society is such a great resource for keeping our history alive. Her passions are teaching, history, social justice movements, and snorkeling.

History/GLST 45: Lesbian & Gay (LGBT) American History
Instructor: Ruth Mahaney

Picture of Various Gay Men
Course Syllabus

This is a survey of the origins, development, and current status of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender reform and liberation movements, cultures, and communities in the United States during the last two centuries, with particular emphasis on the last 65 years. The course concerns the Jives, communities, organizations, and resistance movements created by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered peoples from diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds.

There will be a field trip to the GLBT Historical Society Archives at 657 Mission St. (Between New Montgomery and 3rd St), which is strongly recommended but not required to receive full credit for the course. Date is during regular class time. Textbooks: (available at Modem Times Bookstore or in class)

1.Odd Girls & Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
2. ZAMI by Audre Lorde
3.Wide Open Town by Nan Amallia Boyd

Week 1: Introduction: to instructor, course, key concepts.

VIDEO: "Silent Pioneers"

Week 2: Methodologies of Historical Studies; Studying the histories of marginalized communities; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender historiography & resources, special issues, essentialism vs. social construction

"The Historian as Curandera" by Aurora Levins Morales
"Voices from Lesbian Herstory" by Joan Nestle
"Coming to Terms: Conceptualizing Men's Erotic & Affectional Relations with Men in the U.S.
1820-1892" by Jonathan Ned Katz
Week 3: Queer Archeology: Examining Fragments of Buried Histories

VIDEO: Two Spirit People

"Lesbians in American Indian Cultures" by Paula Gunn Allen from Hidden from History
"WE'WHA goes to Washington: The Berdache"
"Under the Shadow of the Ulema:Male Homosexuality in Medieval Muslim History:a brief outline" by Yogi Sikand (from Trikone Magazine, January 1996) Selections from "Sex Before Sexuality" by David Halperin from Hidden from History "Introduction" to Odd Girls & Twilight Lovers.

Week 4: Sex Roles & the Ideology of Separate Spheres.

SLIDE SHOW: "She Even Chewed Tobacco: Women who passed as Men"

"Loves of Women for Each Other" (Odd Girls, Chap. 1, pp. 11-36)
"Knights-Errant and Gothic Seducers: The Representation of Male Friendships in Mid-Nineteenth
Century America" by Robert Martin from Hidden From History
"She Even Chewed Tobacco" from Hidden From History

Week 5: Medicine & Sexology: Pathologizing Queerness

Paper Due: Interview:

"Scandal in Newport" from Other Side of Silence, Ch. 1
"A Worm in the Bud" from Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, chapter 2, pp. 37-61.
"The Mythic Mannish Lesbian" by Esther Newton from Hidden from History.
Excerpt from Transvestites: The Erotic Drive to Cross by Magnus Hirschfeld
Excerpt from Gay and Lesbian Almanac by Jonathan Ned Katz pp. 587-590.
"The Well of Loneliness"
"Paragraph 174: Appeal for the Liberation of the Urning's Nature from Penal Law" by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.

Week 6: Homosexual Urban Subcultures in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries.

VIDEO: Tiny and Ruby

"Imagining the Twenties" from Other Side of Silence, Ch. 2.
"Lesbian Chic: Experimentation & Repression in the 1920's from Odd Girls chap 3 pp 62-92.
"Bowery as Haven and Spectacle" by George Chauncey.
"A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem" by Eric Garber from Hidden from History.
"Gladys Bentley: The Bulldagger Who Sang the Blues" by Eric Garber.
"'But we would never talk about it': The Structures of Lesbian Discretion in South Dakota,1928-1933" by Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy.

Week 7: Finding Public Space! / Defending Homosexuality.

ARCHIVES TOUR: 657 Mission St. #300 (between 3rd and New Montgomery St.)


"Elsa: I Come With My Songs" by Elsa Gidlow.
"Dear Elsa" (letter to Elsa Gidlow from Clarkson Crane.
Excerpt on Gerber from Gay American History by Jonathan Katz

"Wastelands & Oases: The 1930's from Odd Girls, chap 4, pp. 93-117.
Wide-Open Town by Nan Boyd Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2.

Week 8: Fascism, War. & the State's Response to Homosexuality.

Paper Due: Exam 1 due VIDEO: Corning Out Under Fire.


"'Naked Amazons & Queer Damozels' :WWII & its Aftermath from Odd Girls, ch 5, pp. 118-138.

"Swastika, Pink Triangle, & Yellow Star: The Destruction of Sexology & the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany" by Erwin J. Haeberle from Hidden from History.

"Marching to a Different Drummer" by Allan Berube from Hidden from History.

Week 9: Repression and a Few Brave Souls.

Paper Due: Archival analysis.


"The Love that Dares Not Speak its Name: McCarthyism & Its Legacy" from Odd Girls, chap 6.

"Uncontrolled Desires: The Response to the Sexual Psychopath 1920-1960" by Estelle Freedman.
"Purge of the Perverts" from Other Side of Silence, ch. 11.
"Homophobia & The Trajectory of Postwar American Radicalism: The Career of Bayard Rustin" by John D'Emilio pgs 82-99.

"The Library, the Park, & the Pervert: Public Space & Homosexual Encounter in Post-World War II Atlanta" by John Howard, pp. 166-183.

Wide-Open Town by Nan Boyd Chapter 3: "Policing Queers in the 1940s and 1950s".

Week 10 Creating Public Life and Organizations:The Homophile Movement.


"Butches, Femmes, & Kikis: Creating Lesbian Subcultures in the 1950s from Odd Girls, pp. I59-187.

"Oral History & the Study of Sexuality in the Lesbian Community: Buffalo, New York, 1940-1960" from Hidden from History.
"Development of the Homosexual Bar as an Institution" by Nancy Achilles.
Begin reading ZAMI by Audre Lorde.
"Bathroom Line" by Joan Nestle.
Wide-Open Town,Chapter 4: "A Queer Ladder of Social Mobility.

Week 11:Counterculture and Other Forms of Resistance



Finish reading ZAMI

"This Huge Light of Yours" by Joan Nestle.

"MtF: Transgender Activism in the Tenderloin & Beyond 1966-1975" by GLHS.

"Gay Politics & Community in San Francisco Since World War II" by John D'Emilio from Hidden
from History, pp, 456-464.

Wide-Open Town by Nan Boyd Chapter 5: "Queer Cooperation and Resistance".

"The Homophiles Start Over: The Rise of the New Left" by Barry Adam pp,73-80.

Week 12: Male Homosex & "Gay" Culture


"The Pleasure Principle "Other Side of Silence, Ch,20.
"Picturing the Homoerotic: Gay Images in Photography" by Allen Ellensweig (Outlook, 1990).
"Demise ofthe Zippered Sweatshirt" by Hal Fischer (Outlook, Winter 1991).
"S/M Aesthetic" by Anonymous (Outlook, Winter 1989).

Week 13: The Stonewall Rebellion & its Aftermath

VIDEO: Question of Equality: Outrage

"'Not a Public Relations Movement''' from Odd Girls, pp. 188-214.
"Gay Liberation and Lesbian Feminism" by Barry Adam.
"A Gay Manifesto" by Carl Wittman.
"Woman-Identified-Woman" by Radicalesbians.
"If That's All There Is" by Del Martin.
"Stonewall and the Birth of Gay and Lesbian Liberation".

Week 14: Lesbian Feminism & the Lesbian Sex Wars


"Lesbian Nation: Creating a Woman-Identified-Woman Community in the 1970's" from Odd Girls,Ch,9, pp. 215-245.
"Learning From Lesbian Separatism" by Charlotte Bunch.
"Lesbian Nation and Woman's Music" by Neil Miller.
"Lesbian Sex Wars in the 1980s" from Odd Girls, Ch 10.

Week 15: Mobilizing for Change, Responding to Attacks

Paper due: Exam 2

VIDEO: Times of Harvey Milk (Harvey Milk, Anita Bryant, etc)
"The Rise of the New Right" by Barry Adam "Gay Politics & Community in San Francisco Since World War II" by John D'Emilio from Hidden from History, pp. 465-473.

Week 16: The Eighties and Nineties
"Why Gay Leaders Don't Last: The First Ten Years after Stonewall" by David Jernigan from Outlook, Summer 1988.
"From Tower of Babel to Community: Lesbian Life in the 1980s" from Odd Girls, Ch.ll.
"Icepicks & Lipsticks: The New Visibility" from The Girls Next Door.
"Epilogue: Social Constructions and the Metamorphoses of Love Between Women" from Odd Girls, pp. 303-308.

Week 17: Final Presentations Project presentations by class members
FINAL EXAM MEETING: project presentations (no exam, but all assignments must be handed in to receive credit)



GLST 20 LGBT American Art & Culture

Instructor: Ruth Mahaney

Preliminary Syllabus this course, we will explore the work and lives of various U.S. born visual artists, musicians, performance artists, dancers, etc. Half of the course will look at art and its impact on culture in the past (mostly 20th Century). The other half of the course will explore contemporary artistic expressions. We are particularly interested in the ways art interacts with culture and politics, and reflects and creates a sense of identity and community. We will analyze various controversies that have come about through LGBT art---for example, the Cincinnati Arts Museum's removal of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs and the subsequent conservative push to have the National Endowment for the Arts stop giving money to "inappropriate" art (much of which was LGBT and/or Ethnic art). How does knowing an artist is gay,lesbian, bisexual or transgender affect our interpretation of the work? Or does it? Are artistic expressions produced by Queer artists Queer Art? Or are they works produced by artists that "happen to be queer"? And what qualifies as Art? We will discuss these and other issues throughout the course.


Week 1: Introduce syllabus, instructor. What is culture? What is art? What Queer? Queer Artist or Artist who is queer? High Art vs Low Art, Popular culture, Commercial pressures Social functions of art.

Week 2: History: pre-1900 to 20's

READ: Saslow: pp. 207-230
"Who Hid Lesbian History?" by Faderman, p. 241; "Goods" by Michael Bronski, p. 245
"Remembering Lenny" by Paul Moor, p. 251
"Willa Cather" by Sharon O'Brien, p. 253
"Closets in the Museum: Homophobia and Art History" by James Saslow, p. 256

Week 3: Harlem Renaissance and its queer subculture

VIDEO: Brother to Brother READ: Saslow: pp. 230-235 and other articles
Week 4: WWII, 50's and 60's:

TOUR OF GLBT Archives 657 Mission St. #300 (between 3rd and New Montgomery)

READ: Saslow: pp. 235-258

Week 5: Stonewall, Gay Lesbian Feminism

PAPER DUE: Exam I (take home essay)

VIDEO: The Cockettes READ: Saslow: pp. 259-273

Week 6: AIDS, 80's and 90's (Keith Haring, NEA struggles, AIDS Quilt, Marlon Riggs)

READ: Saslow: pp. 274-310

Week 7: Erotic art, History of Gay Male Porn

Week 8: Women's Music: VIDEO: Radical Harmonies
Week 9: Art critique and censorship VIDEO: "The L Word" PAPER DUE: Historical Research paper

Week 10: Graphic Novels, Comix: guest speakers (Hothead Paisan, Dykes to Watch Out For, Kris Kovak)

Week 11: Dance as Art and Culture: Guest speaker

Week 12: Disco, Rock, Punk, Hip Hop, Spoken Word, Riot Grrl

PAPER DUE: Exam 2 (take-home essay)

Week 13: Photography: Guest speaker

Week 14: Dress and self-presentation, gender, Butch/Femme, Performance Art

Week 15: Lesbian Visual Artists

Week 16: to be arranged

Week 17: Class Presentations

Final Exam

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GLBT Historical Society

Community based archive and exhibit space dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the history of GLBT people's lives.

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Founded in 1971 as a collectively owned and operated progressive bookstore. Modern Times specializes in meeting the diverse needs of people seeking justice, by carrying titles not easily available at mainstream bookstores.

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