Construction of Heterosexual Identities

James Joseph Dean Speaks in Social Sciences Lecture Series
February 27, 2012
brown paper bag

Bring your lunch and come hear James Joseph Dean, Sociology, speak on his work "From 'Normal' to Heterosexual: The Historical Construction of Heterosexual Masculinities and Heterosexual Femininities" at the School of Social Sciences Brown Bag Tuesday, Feb. 28, Noon - 1p.m. in Stev 2011.

This talk looks at the rise of the homo/heterosexual definition among men, charting of the rise of the closet in the 1930s and how this affected the hardening and changing of the boundaries between "normal" men and homosexual men throughout the mid-twentieth century. Regarding heterosexual femininities, I synthesize and provide an interpretation of some of the key historiographical studies of American women's identity constructions, piecing together a working social history of heterosexual femininities and their relation to lesbian identities. To date, there is no historical work on the boundaries between lesbians and "normal" or heterosexual women's identities comparable to George Chauncey's (1994) study on men. I loosely follow historians Lisa Duggan's (2003), Lillian Faderman's (1991), and Elizabeth Kennedy and Madeline Davis's (1993) charting of the developments and shifts in lesbian identities to understand the entrenchment of the homo/heterosexual definition among women.

Brown Bags are open and free to faculty, staff, students, and any interested others, a good place to have lunch and hear about our faculty's most recent research. Seminars are held on most Tuesdays during Spring Term, Noon - 1p.m. in Stevenson 2011.