Queer Methods

Queer Methods

Sitting down to write this page, I knew that I wanted it to read like a letter. A letter from my queer heart to yours.

Often when people start talking about “methodologies” and “theoretical frameworks” the conversation becomes inaccessible — I don’t want that for us!

I want to invite you onto this page to explore what it means to create queer art histories.

The method is how we decide “what” is queer and “how” we will tell its story. Something I am really excited about lately is realizing that the method itself can be queer!

By creating this project of collecting and community building, Casey was himself carrying a torch that has been carried by generations of queer historians and activists. Queer Art History, then, is both a home for collections of queer content and it can be a queer method for collaborative knowledge creation.

Queer or Queered

In making this project Casey needed to decide what objects — which juicy pieces of art history — would be included. I am working to learn his intentions, as well as to be clear about my own method as I continue building the collection.

There are two approaches identified in Queer Theory that I want to pull out for you:

  1. Queer content: This means looking for inherently queer content or queer folx. Some examples are:
    • Identifying a queer historical figure (eg. Michaelangelo, Virginia Woolf)
    • Finding an image of two women having sex from premodern France
    • Analyzing a text written by a transgender author about their experience as a transgender person
    • And so many more!
  2. Queering (VERB): This means approaching an object that does not necessarily have (though it can!) explicitly queer content from a queer perspective. Some examples are:
    • Analyzing medieval convents as places where women lived together and formed close connections, and suggesting queer possibilities
    • Looking at a statue from the perspective of a queer viewer
    • Creating queer possibilities by exploring historical gender fluidity (eg. medieval cross-dressing narratives)

If you’re interested in Queer Theory, I discuss it on my personal website in relation to my MA research as well!

It is clear to me, having explored the website, that Casey collected both “queer” and “queered” objects. This is my preferred method as well — the most inclusive and rich — and it feels very queer indeed to create our art histories using intersecting queer methods!

Queer History about Queer History

This broader approach has been used by knowledge creators of past generations, and its legacy continues!

An example of a contemporary (currently happening) project is the “Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada” project. Check out their principles and compare them to those we use for Queer Art History!

Two other examples for you to check out are:
1) The Transgender Media Portal
2) The Museum of Trans Hirstory and Art (MOTHA)

From MOTHA, I take the belief that queer art history sites are necessarily “forever under construction.”

This lets us remain adaptable to the needs of our communities, even while we capture the reality of our communities as they are right now and have been in the past.

**Stay tuned for profiles of the knowledge creators of past generations!**

If you’ve made it this far in my letter, thank you for joining me. This is far from comprehensive and “forever under construction.” My hope is only that we are situated enough now to begin our disruptive and creative work.

With love,

Baylee

Bibliography:
Crompton, Constance and Michelle Schwartz. “Remaking History: Lesbian
Feminist Historical Methods in the Digital Humanities,” in Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities, edited by Elizabeth Losh and Jaqueline Wernimont. Minneaopolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018. 131-156.

Whittington, Karl. “Queer,” in Studies in Iconography 33 (2012): 157-168