1st Edition

New Directions in Queer Oral History Archives of Disruption

Edited By Clare Summerskill, Amy Tooth Murphy, Emma Vickers Copyright 2022
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    This comprehensive international collection reflects on the practice, purpose, and functionality of queer oral history, and in doing so demonstrates the vibrancy and innovation of this rapidly evolving field.

    Drawing on the roots of oral history’s original commitment to "history from below" queer oral history has become an indispensable methodology at the heart of queer studies. Expanding and extending the existing canon, this book offers up key observations about queer oral history as a methodology, and how it might be advanced through cutting edge approaches. The collection contains a mix of contributions from established scholars, early career researchers, postgraduate students, archivists, and activists, ensuring its accessibility and wide appeal.

    The go-to reference for queer oral history for scholars, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and community-engaged practitioners, New Directions in Queer Oral History advances rigorous methodological and theoretical debates and constitutes a significant intervention in the world of oral history.


    Nan Alamilla Boyd

    Introduction: Archives of Disruption

    Amy Tooth Murphy, Emma Vickers, Clare Summerskill

    Part 1: Narrating LGBTQ Histories: Presence, Absence, and the Space Between 

    1. (Un)speakable Pasts: Reflections on Working at the Edges of Queer Oral History

    Geraldine Fela

    2.  Locating Lesbians, Finding “Gay Women,” Writing Queer Histories: Reflections on Oral Histories, Identity, and Community Memory

    Valerie J. Korinek

    3. Queer Intergenerational Reticence: A Religious Case Study

    George J. Severs

    4. Reading Both Ways: Lesbian Oral Histories and Bisexual Visibility

    Lauren Jae Gutterman

    5. Finding “Evidence of Me” Through “Evidence of Us”: Transgender Oral Histories and Personal Archives Speak

    Noah Riseman

    6. Destabilising Identities and Normative Narratives: The Methodological Challenges of Navigating Oral History Interviews with LGBTQ+ Children of Holocaust Survivors

    Jacob Evoy

    Part 2: Re/making Meaning: Navigating Discourse, Composure and Intersubjectivity

    7. Beyond Composure and Discomposure in a Shifting Queer Identity Narrative

    Victoria Golding

    8. “Fuck the Gay Movement”: Dissemblance and Desire in a Black AIDS Oral History

    Dan Royles

    9. Unfinished Business: Documenting Australian Lesbian Feminism

    Sophie Robinson

    10. Bisexual Women’s Storytelling and Community-building in Toronto

    Margaret Robinson

    11. Filling the Boxes in Ourselves: Conducting a Queer Oral History of Bisexuality and Multiple-gender-attraction

    Martha Robinson Rhodes

    Part 3: Making a Queer Mess: Embodiment, Affect and Exceeding Our Limits

    12. Towards a Queer-chronology: Telling Stories in the Queer/Ed Archives

    Jamie A. Lee

    13. “I Gotta Go”: Mobility as a Queer Methodology

    Anne Balay

    14. LGBTIQ Activism and “Insider” Interviewing: Reflecting on Oral Histories from the Campaign for Australian Marriage Equality

    Shirleene Robinson

    15. In Search of Queer Composure: Queer Temporality, Intimacy and Affect

    Amy Tooth Murphy 

    Part 4: Negotiating Identity: Sharing Authority in Creative Practice 

    16. Dry Your Eyes, Princess: Oral Testimony and Photography – A Case Study

    Emma Vickers

    17. “It’s Telling Your Story to Your Family”: Why Positionality Matters When Interviewing an Older Lesbian for a Verbatim Play

    Clare Summerskill

    18. An Army of Listeners: Interviewing Lesbians as a Practice of Liberation for All

    El Chenier

    19. “Free to Be Me”: Oral History Research with Lesbians and Bisexual Women Seeking Asylum in the UK

    Jane Traies


    Clare Summerskill gained her doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Her research interests include the ethics of verbatim theatre processes and the role of the contributor in such productions. She works as a visiting lecturer at various UK universities and she is also a playwright, oral historian, and stand-up comedian.

    Amy Tooth Murphy is a lecturer in oral history at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Her research interests include British post-war lesbian history; oral history theory and method; butch/femme cultures and identities; and lesbian literature. Her current research project is an exploration of butch lived experience and identity from 1950 to present.

    Emma Vickers is a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. She specialises in queer British history and is the author of Queen and Country: Same-sex Desire in the British Armed Forces, 19391945 (2013). She is interested in the intersection between psychotherapy and oral testimony.

    "This is a terrific collection: an outstanding volume of unusual breadth and depth, in a rapidly expanding field of inquiry. With a compelling foreword by Nan Alamilla Boyd, contextualising introduction by three co-editors, and nineteen chapters drawn from diverse oral history projects with innovative methodologies, the book ranges geographically from the country to the city, across Australia, Canada, UK, and US. It engages an astounding array of narrators, from LGBTQ+ children of Holocaust survivors to straight and gay nurses navigating the early AIDS crisis, from intersex and marriage equality activists to trans military veterans. In addition to complex accounts of shame, job loss, reticence, and dissemblance, they tell unforgettable stories of lives lived loud, proud, and against the grain.

    As gender and sexuality studies grows ever stronger and richer, these authors’ insights will guide students, inform colleagues, and empower community members for years to come. New Directions in Queer Oral History is an enormously important contribution to scholarship – and to queer cultures around the world."

    John Howard, King’s College London, UK

    "New Directions in Queer Oral History: Archives of Disruption reminds us why queer oral history is at the cutting edge of oral history practice and theory. Bringing together a diverse range of contributors working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer histories in a variety of national contexts, this rich collection provokes us to think again about our practice of oral history and both the limits and radical potential of the stories we generate. Raising difficult questions such as whether it is necessary, or indeed enough, for interviewers to share an LGBTQ+ identity with narrators; how intergenerational dynamics shape both the interview and our wider sense of community and self; and how we respond to the ethical dilemmas of probing traumatic histories, this lively and intimate collection shows how far queer oral history has come and points to the productive and disruptive possibilities of this fascinating field."

    Rebecca Jennings, UCL, UK

    "New Directions in Queer Oral History is a great book for anyone conducting research on queer oral history. It gives wonderful advice on how to plan and carry out successful oral history interviews. It also helps you to prepare for the interviews and the obstacles you might encounter while interviewing LGBTQ people. Reading about the difficulties and possibilities in queer oral history also gives the reader insight into how to analyze the interviews and how to find a new level of nuance in them. New Directions in Queer Oral History is also a book that I would have needed when I started planning my MA thesis on Finnish trans history. I’m delighted to have this book as a guide now, as I am starting to work on my PhD thesis." - Jean Lukkarinen , University of Turku