Presentation Title

Sponsorships of Queer (Information) Literacy: Recovering Past to Improve Our Futures

Location

Room 218/220

Type of Presentation

Panel (1 hour and 15 minutes presentation total for two or more presenters)

Target Audience

Higher Education

Abstract

Through archival research at NYPL, Herstory Lesbian Archive, and LGBT Community Center National Archive, two of these three panelists uncover narratives of how queer communities gained and/or provided increased information access through the activist work of organizations that heeded their communities' needs in the 1970s, and 80s. From the American Library Association's Gay Task Force to the work of ACT UP, these panelists illustrate how one minority group shaped the discourses about themselves when previously they had been so controlled and misrepresented by others. The third panelist, a librarian, discusses how contemporary library services support lgbtq researchers. All three presentations open a discussion about the sponsorships of literacy (see Brandt) that foster the queer counter-discourses (see Warner) as well as lay the groundwork for burgeoning counter-literacies. These panelists propose that by studying the archival past that we should be able to imagine futures that disrupt the inequities and injustices of our present (See Muñoz).

Works Cited

Brandt, Deborah. "Sponsors of Literacy," CCC 49.2 (May 1998): 165- 185)

Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009.

Warner, Michael. Publics and Counterpublics. New York, NY: Zone Books, 2002.

Presentation Description

#1: Prior to the 1970s when LGBT information was limited in classrooms and censured in libraries, these sponsors of queer literacy took risks that sometimes threatened their own careers, yet expanded the accesssibility to people whose lives previously could not say their own name nor request their own interests at the research help desk. The initiatives of Barbara Gittings, Israel Fishman, and Janet Cooper (all members of American Library Association (ALA)) as well as Louie Crew (of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) perpetuated queer literacy sponsorship at a nationwide level that would inform and activate the next generation. This presentation looks at their interlocking efforts to develop gay bibliographies, respond and resist library censureship, revise arcane "perversion" cataloguing, develop intellectual communities of scholars, and devise gay studies programs. This archivally-inspired research project shows the generative activist work that the combined forces of librarians and writing teachers can produce. #2 While reading and writing operated as a means of personal and political empowerment for queer subjectivity before and after the Stonewall riots, the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s marked a salient moment in the history of queer literacy. As many gay men suffered under the brute force of a mysterious illness, their desperate situations made a high level of literacy competence exigent: many afflicted with HIV/AIDS were not well versed in medical/pharmaceutical texts and, consequently, needed to learn to decipher, internalize, and produce this specialized medical discourse. Moreover, political action accompanied this rise in medical literacy, locating many who had remained apolitical suddenly at the forefront of aggressive activism. Organizations such as ACT UP and TAG formed matrices of literacy sponsorship, disseminating knowledge while simultaneously demanding action from an unresponsive government and medical community. Using Deborah Brandt’s theoretical framework of sponsorship along with archival research, this presentation explores how those living with HIV/AIDS in the early days of the epidemic acquired specific reading and writing skills necessary for survival, thus revealing this generative historical moment as a rupture for (and eruption of) a burgeoning queer literacy. #3: In our wired world, the HQ stacks have faded as a haunt for those in search of information and like-minded allies. The library’s role in providing access to content is no longer so obvious to our users now working on their digital devices within the invisible paywalls on our campuses. The passionate up-to-the–minute debates on blogs and microblogs encompassing multiple opinions may appear much more exciting and relevant than the non-interactive content in our databases, journals and ebooks. But we can use these topics so relevant to the lives of our students as an entry point to the landscapes of formal scholarly debates, and to address information literacy goals and objectives embedded in the curriculum. I’ll provide some examples of how this is being done, in addition to an overview of the current lgbtq information landscape, and the challenges college libraries face in supporting researchers and teachers working on and with lgbtq related topics. Are we recognizing and providing access to content relevant to lgtbq researchers? Do the recently developed commercial databases specializing in lgbtq materials improve access, or signal the failure of the open access movement to make historic and academic materials freely available? How are we supporting our lgbtq students, faculty and staff? Are we fighting the last war in providing self-check out machines decades too late for those who wanted privacy? Where are we on bathroom provisions? What does Title IX mean for libraries?

Keywords

GLBTQ, Queer, Literacy sponsorhip, (Counter)discourse, Access

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

 
Sep 30th, 10:00 AM Sep 30th, 11:30 AM

Sponsorships of Queer (Information) Literacy: Recovering Past to Improve Our Futures

Room 218/220

Through archival research at NYPL, Herstory Lesbian Archive, and LGBT Community Center National Archive, two of these three panelists uncover narratives of how queer communities gained and/or provided increased information access through the activist work of organizations that heeded their communities' needs in the 1970s, and 80s. From the American Library Association's Gay Task Force to the work of ACT UP, these panelists illustrate how one minority group shaped the discourses about themselves when previously they had been so controlled and misrepresented by others. The third panelist, a librarian, discusses how contemporary library services support lgbtq researchers. All three presentations open a discussion about the sponsorships of literacy (see Brandt) that foster the queer counter-discourses (see Warner) as well as lay the groundwork for burgeoning counter-literacies. These panelists propose that by studying the archival past that we should be able to imagine futures that disrupt the inequities and injustices of our present (See Muñoz).

Works Cited

Brandt, Deborah. "Sponsors of Literacy," CCC 49.2 (May 1998): 165- 185)

Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009.

Warner, Michael. Publics and Counterpublics. New York, NY: Zone Books, 2002.