The Sunday Radical Roundup: Libraries, Lefties, and Lonely Lovelorn Ladies

February 7, 2010, 6:19 pm

This Week In Library Fun: Amidst the excitement about the reopening of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, other libraries in the system are slashing their hours on February 16 in response to budget cuts from City Hall. (Why does the mayor always take out the neighborhood libraries in a budget crisis when he could fire twenty or thirty cops and get the same $$? I ask you.) Changes affect nearly all branches except those on Staten Island and the privately endowed research libraries in Manhattan. Go here for new hours. At least for now, scholars and organized crime families will continue with the service they have, but there could also be no starker example of the distance that is growing between the actual public sphere and the privatized public sphere.

On The Left, On The Left: Tom Manoff, a former civil rights activist who has been the classical music critic for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered since 1985, has a terrific interview with feminist author Jane Lazarre up on his website. Lazarre, the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, is currently working on a book about her father Bill, who fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Not only is Lazarre (the author of Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons) her typically thoughtful self about writing, race and politics, but the interview also gives a few hints about what I predict (you heard it here first) will be a blockbuster book about the American left. Want to interview Lazarre yourself, or better yet, book her for a reading during Black History Month or Women’s History Month? You can reach her through her agent, Wendy Weil.

While We’re Still On The Left: Go here to sign the petition to the American Historical Association Council, asking them to use INMEX, a conference booking group that works with unions “to ensure its clients are booking their events in destinations that are free from labor disputes and helps steer professional associations away from meeting venues that are likely to be disrupted by a boycott, a picket line or a strike.” I know this makes INMEX sound like a protection racket, but trust me! It’s the right thing to do. If this works, all we need now is to make conferences more affordable — I know more than one graduate student who bled green in San Diego without being offered a single flyback. And has anyone looked at the rates that are being charged for rooms at the OAH annual meeting?

That Ever-Elusive M.R.S. Degree Just Got Tougher: I am waiting for Historiann to fire with every muzzle-loading fowling piece at her disposal on this story by Alex Williams from today’s New York Times. It’s about the the woes suffered by female college students who can’t find a boyfriend because — there aren’t enough boys on many campuses to go around! At the 60% female University of North Carolina, Saturday night “has grown tiresome: they slip on tight-fitting tops, hair sculpted, makeup just so, all for the benefit of one another, Ms. Andrew said, ‘because there are no guys.’” And the ones that are available, it appears, are a little soiled, since they are either previously owned or are cheating on the girl friend they have. Tales of taking what you can get and having the man you did catch snapped up right under your eyes help Williams sing the heterosexual blues: “Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.” Worse, girls feel terrible pressure to — what do they call it now? Give it up? — in order to seal the deal.

I mean, please, Alex: this is a throwback to Cold War domesticity, where we pretended there were no gay and lesbian people on campus and that if a girl didn’t leave college with a ring on her finger she was damaged goods. In the face of budget cuts, tuition increases, a market crash that took college savings with it, and a crisis in lending to college-bound students, could you have written a more shallow piece about higher education? Could you? And girls, if the details of what you are doing at college are not as (or more) important than what you are doing on Saturday night, and you really can’t do without a man, swap that English or psych degree for a Physics major, why dontcha? Boys never make passes at girls who sit on their asses. Or do what both genders do at Zenith and other liberal arts colleges — keep the English major and trade in your sexual preference for a couple of years. Or trade in your gender!

Finally, For Those Of You Not On The CLGBTH Listserve: How many times do I have to tell you to join? Sheesh. This week, we have a CFP for a conference in Vancouver, BC, “’We Demand’: History/Sex/Activism In Canada,” August 25-28, 2011. From the organizers:

On August 28, 1971 over two hundred lesbian and gay activists gathered on Parliament Hill to demand the federal government bring an end to laws and practices that criminalized, marginalized, and stigmatized lesbians and gays. Acting in solidarity with their central Canadian allies, Vancouver activists staged the same action on the steps of their city’s Court House. It was the first recorded national political action undertaken by gay liberationists and lesbian feminist activists in Canada.

”We Demand” marks the fortieth anniversary of the 1971 action. The conference seeks to showcase current work on all aspects of the history of sexuality in Canada, from pre-contact to present times.

Keynote speaker: Ann Cvetkovich, author of An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures.
Other confirmed speakers include Mary Louise Adams, Karen Dubinsky, Gary Kinsman, and Steven Maynard.

We are currently accepting proposals for panels, individual papers, roundtable discussions, poster sessions, and other means of communicating ideas and generating discussion. We welcome submissions from scholars, archivists, educators, public historians, and past and present political activists from all sexual fronts.

Panel and round table submissions should include a session title, a brief description of the panel or round table, abstracts for each paper of no more than 250 words, and a brief biography or one-page c.v./resume for each presenter and for the session chair. Individuals should submit a 250-word abstract plus a brief biography or one-page c.v./resume. Those submitting proposals for other types of presentations should contact the organizers for further instruction. The deadline for submission is 1 June 2010.

Please send queries and submissions to: wedemand2011ATgmailDOTcom.

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