1. Read A Queer History of the United States: ch. 3-4, pp. 40-82. (Read the chapters between Oct. 8 and 11 or 12, prepare the entry between Oct. 12 and 14!)
2. As you finish reading chapter 3, reflect upon its title, “Imagining A Queer America.” Why do you think Bronski choose this title, and is it appropriate for the subjects he includes? a. Since the whole chapter is about the tensions between Western and Eastern America (the expansion to the West, the establishment of a new ‘American’ culture, and the tensions perceived with the “European” influence in the East), how did the myth of the cowboy develop in the West, and how did it embody the paradoxes of American masculinity?
3. What are the literary images of the American West that Bronski considers? What are the authors that are at the root of the Western imaginary, and how do they articulate it?
4. Consider Bronski’s use of San Francisco as a (historical) place in the queer imagination. If you were to discuss San Francisco as queer city, what would you emphasize/ what would you explain to someone who does not know much about the history of this period and of that city in particular? Why would San Francisco become a synonym of (social, sexual) freedom and democracy during this time?
5. How do Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau articulate their (homosocial/homoerotic) vision of humankind and to what end? Why is their conception of what Nature is/does at the center of their theories?
6. What were Margaret Fuller and Emily Dickinson’s positions about same sex intimacy, according to Bronski?
7. Consider Melville’s and Charles Stoddard’s novels and short stories according to way that Bronski conceptualizes them: why do they contribute to what Bronski labels the democratization of race in America? In what ways/through what means (what do they show)? What are their limits?
8. Why are Walt Whitman’s works essential for an understanding of male homoerotic culture in the U.S. in the mid-19th century? (see also n. 10)
9. How was the male nude represented (by whom, for what purpose) and what did it end up signifying?
10. Why are the connections between the American Whitman and the British Carpenter and Symonds vital for the understanding of LGBT history at this time? What German sexological works influenced Carpenter’s and Symonds’s theories?
11. Bronski consider the cases of Cashier, Chshman and Primus in its first book, FYP invites a further investigation. Read from Section I and II, the short chapters on Albert D. J. Cashier, Charlotte Cushman, Rebecca Primus. Try to link them, in your memory, to the subjects you investigated for this week. (FYP also have a chapter on Whitman, but what Bronski wrote originally in his first book is sufficient. If you want to read more about Whitman, please do!)
– Albert Cashier, a retired soldier from the Civil War, was assigned female at birth and identified and dressed as a man. What was Cashier’s birth name and where was the soldier born? How did Cashier end up in a state mental hospital? Why was Cashier forced to wear dresses? According to the text, some retired soldiers supported Cashier’s desire to wear trousers and traditional “men’s” clothing. Cite specific examples from the chapter given as reasons why the soldiers supported Cashier’s choice.
– Charlotte Cushman was considered one of the greatest American female actors in the mid-1800s. Although the term “lesbian” was never used in this chapter to describe Cushman, what specific evidence from the text does the author use to suggest that she was a woman who loved women? Does the author make a convincing argument that Cushman was a queer woman? Explain. Play all or a portion of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s podcast “I Will Assume Thy Part in Some Disguise”/“Charlotte Cushman: When Romeo Was a Woman” https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited/romeo-charlotte-cushman
– Rebecca Primus and Addie Brown are introduced as a potentially lesbian or bisexual couple. Both women were African American. What challenges might they have faced both being Black and loving women? On page 88, Bronski describes “the battle over who is American” and the formation of the Know-Nothing Party and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Why were the Know-Nothing Party and the KKK formed? Why were certain groups of people targeted by the KKK or the Know-Nothing Party?
– The “battle over who is American” is still present today. Throughout its history, the KKK has targeted racial minorities, religious groups such as Jews and Catholics, and queer individuals. In 1937, it attacked the La Paloma night club, which was associated with the Cuban and Caribbean community, in Miami, Florida. “Why a Forgotten KKK Raid on a Gay Club in Miami Still Matters 80 Years Later.” Why do you think the La Paloma attack is not as well-known as the raid on the Stonewall Inn or the Pulse nightclub in Orlando? What are some other examples of the KKK attacking the LGBTQ community? https://time.com/5037803/stonewall-la-paloma-history/
12. Entry. After reading ch. 1-4, choose one, two (possibly surprising) interwoven threads of Bronski’s “queer” history of the U.S., and write an entry that YOU could use to illustrate them to someone who is ignorant of how certain aspects of American social, political, cultural history are deeply connected to gender and sexuality (how the ones shape the others and vice versa). Write between 600 and 750 words. (You can choose to emphasize mid-19th century issues, if you want.) Make this entry something you could *concretely* use (and for this reason, make sure you include references and the list of your “tools” – so others can find information for themselves, if they wanted to).