Princeton History Department Pride

Yes, the pun on “pride” was sort of intended, because the reason I’m so excited is that I just read Steven Epstein’s laudatory review in The Nation of Margot Canaday’s new book The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America. I took Prof. Canaday’s class spring semester, and what we learned about “Gender and Sexuality in Modern America” turned my world upside-down. I think it was partly because I realized for the first time that the inclusion of LGBT narratives and experiences and cultures in the world of academe was legitimate. I know that seems self-evident and a rather silly realization for a queer kid to come to, but it was inspiring to me. Now I find myself in the position of putting the gears in motion to study LGBT history in the Princeton history department. I may not be so much interested in the legal/legislative/federal issues that she addresses, but when I finally settle on a thesis topic, I’ll have part of Prof. Canaday’s thesis—that homosexuality and the state are inextricably linked—to thank. Without her class, I don’t think that I would have come to the conclusion that the study of American history and culture necessarily incorporates the study of sexuality.

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