Skip to content Skip to navigation


Blog entry

In my focus on the "facts and documents" end of historic research, I tend to have little patience for discussions of "theories about theories" far removed from a consideration of the lives and experiences of actual people in history. That doesn't mean that I don't value them. The study of history is far from an objective, value-neutral practice, and if we don't examine and address the subjective, value-infused context in which history is done, we end up accepting those contexts as "fact" when they are far from any such thing.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 18b - Interview with Kathleen Knowles

(Originally aired 2018/01/13 - listen here)

A series of interviews with authors of historically-based fiction featuring queer women.

In this episode we talk about

One of the themes that I find really valuable in this collection of essays is poking at the question of whether and why it is important to find connections between historic modes of sexuality and the modes familiar to modern producers and consumers of historic research and theory. Given how prominent and foundational Lillian Faderman has been in the field of lesbian history, I always feel a bit guilty when I describe my winces at certain of her approaches, though in this essay I think she addresses the underlying premises of those winces fairly directly.

One of the more biting criticisms in this collection of the popularity of a "queer history" approach of a "lesbian history" approach is that the study of the history of male homosexuality has often rested on inherently misogynistic bodies of work--not merely the historic misogyny that skewed the historic record toward the experiences and opinions of men, but just as often the modern misogyny of historians whose desire to validate and elevate male homoerotic relationships in history relies on a denigration of the presence and valuing of women in society.

Research into an awareness of same-sex desire in history often fixes on the use of specific vocabulary or the clear understanding of certain definable categories of behavior. But in this article, Puff looks more deeply at oblique ways in which social knowedge of same-sex desire is made evident. The case of Greta von Möskirch demonstrates that her contemporaries were clearly aware of the possibility that female-presenting individuals might desire other female-presenting individuals, but also that they had a variety of frameworks for "explaining" that phenomenon.

The inclusion of this article in The Lesbian Premodern was what spurred me to track down Bennett's more extensive article on this memorial, and thus to create the podcast episode on joint same-sex grave memorials through the ages. Artifacts like this and the context around them always inspire me to imagine the personal stories of the women involved.

It isn't entirely uncommon in myth and legend for a woman to become pregnant without the participation of a (human) man. It's rather less common to find stories in which pregnancy is attributed to sexual activity between women--whether, as in this case, with divine assistance, or as in the case in an early Irish text, where the sperm is leftover from one of the women's prior heterosexual activity. With all the fertility technology we have today, the idea of two women being co-genetic parents of a child is still mostly theoretical.

A vacation schedule affects one's sense of time even without the distractions I've had during this particular holiday season. (The sort that will make amusing family stories for years to come.) So I almost forgot it was LHMP day! This amusing meditation on the interpretation of fashionable female figures in medieval manuscripts that belonged to women as being a psychological equivalent of "barbie dolls" seems to fit in well on a day for toys and presents. I hope all my readers are enjoying whatever winter holidays they prefer.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 19c - Book Appreciation with Ellen Klages

(Originally aired 2018/02/17 - listen here)

Ellen Klages returns to the podcast to talk about some favorite lesbian historical stories.

No transcript is available for this podcast.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 19b - Interview with Ellen Klages

(Originally aired 2018/02/10 - listen here)

I talk with Ellen Klages about her novella "Passing Strange" and her love of 20th century history.

No transcript is available for this show at this time.


Subscribe to LHMP