Call for Papers: Histories of Queer Cosmopolitanism

Colourful dots

Deadline for abstracts: 1 April 2019

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 two-day 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’? In ‘Four Cosmopolitan Moments,’ Robert Fine and Robert Cohen give a trans-historical account of cosmopolitanism, citing four critical moments: ancient Greece, the Enlightenment, post-World War Two, and post-Cold War. How, we ask, have the strategies, discourses, and outcomes of queer cosmopolitanism shifted in across history?

Yet when we extend the chronology of queerness, we run into fraught questions of historiography and method. 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 organizers, 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 specialize in LGBTQ+ materials. The main colloquium will take place on Sunday May 19, 2019 at Oxford’s Ertegun House. A graduate student workshop will take place on the afternoon of May 18, offering early-career academics the chance to share feedback and work through issues of method and content. Papers for the workshop will be pre-circulated, presented in a 10-minute summary, and discussed by all participants.

Graduate students interested in participating in the workshop should submit an abstract of up to 300 words, as well as a brief biographical note to by April 1, 2019. Applicants will be notified of the results within a week, and full papers of up to 5000 words will be due on May 10, 2019.