Please note that I finished Debby Applegate’s, The Most Famous Man in America, and it is a Great Read. It is now out in paper, and I recommend you take it on vacation.
Remember I said in the previous post that gay and lesbian books sell like little hotcakes? Well, the Radical’s new featured book (which I am taking on my weekend retreat to the country house of another historian) is a good example. If you are, just now, choosing a dissertation topic, read this book, because it demonstrates how you can make choices (even as a graduate student, the time where it seems all choices have been made for you!) that make your life more pleasant and possibly more lucrative. Karen Krahulik’s Provincetown represents the following good choices:
1. Choosing a fun summer resort as the place to do your research. Can’t beat that with a stick. It’s almost like being a Europeanist, but without having to read bad handwriting in your second language.
2. A queer book topic that queers will buy and read in large numbers. If you can find any of the remaining queer bookstores, you will see a lot of academic stuff on the shelves that will be purchased by non-academics, often by people with no college or high school degree at all who are voracious readers. Speculation on why this is so may appear in another post, but it has something to do with a long period of time when knowing anything about any kind of homosex required research on the part of those coming out, since all information about perverse sexuality was withheld by the state, and by those agents of the state, schools and parents. And don’t forget that bookstores, even post-Stonewall, were one place where queers of any age could meet each other and have actual sex. Then maybe read about it too.
3. A book about a summer resort which anyone who lives in, summers in or visits will want to buy and/or give as a house present and/or take home as a souvenir. You could probably extend that to all of Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. And when you think of the number of academics who summer in those places, what a way to get a book into the hands of people who might learn to appreciate you. I mean, wow.
4. A book about a place that most cultural and literary historians know is important, but that no one had yet devoted the time to write a community study of.
5. A short book. Thank you, Karen. Would that other people were more like you.
If you like Karen’s book and want to get email from her regularly, go to the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History website (CLGH) and join this affiliate of the American Historical Association. Karen is the chair and corresponding secretary. A lifetime membership is only $150: you can buy a yearly membership for a piddling amount that, annoyingly, you will have to renew every year for another, less-piddling amount. But $150 is a steal, when you consider that a lifetime membership to the Organization of American Historians costs ten times that sum.
Or less of a steal, when you consider that last year the lifetime membership cost $100, but how could you have known? Stop berating yourself and write the check, for God’s Sake. And *do not* compare this sum to the fact that in 1885 a lifetime membership to the AHA cost $25, and an annual membership cost $5. One imagines that the Founding Fathers weren’t sure the AHA would last. Imagine how clever people like Frederick Jackson Turner felt by 1900! Well, you can feel the same way by joining CLGH now.