Jennifer Evans: Queering the Gays/Gaze: sex, street, and subculture in 1970s queer erotic photography

Thursday November 08

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CSUS and F. Ross Johnson Distinguished Speaker Series

Room Information

Thu Nov 08 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM 208N, North House


Jennifer Evans
Associate Professor of History, Carleton University, Ottawa

Contact Info

Stella Kyriakakis


The decriminalization of homosexuality in the late 1960s had wide reaching effects in both North America and Western Europe. Alongside hard won legal protections, for the first time in modern history, same-sex desiring men and women could produce, possess, publish, and consume erotic images without fear of police retribution or censor. Although photography played a pivotal role in the construction of queer identities in the newly protected public and private spheres, the art world was slow to embrace sex, street, and subculture as high art. This talk explores the tension between high and low, between the museum and the street as a fundamental feature of efforts to queer the gays/gaze in the period after Stonewall. Contextualizing the evolution of queer erotic photography in the social as well as photographic history of the Sexual Revolution, it argues that 1970s visualizations of sexual subjectivity simultaneously drew on and transcended previous stylizations within the queer canon in working to realize a place in contemporary photography for the queer gaze/gazing queerly. Destabilizing the easy separation between art and the everyday, the queer gaze, and the desiring subjects it helped constitute and create, ushered forth new possibilities for erotic expression and desire.

Jennifer Evans is Associate Professor of History at Carleton University. She teaches a variety of courses in 20th century German history with a primary interest in the history of sexuality. Her book," Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) explores the rebirth of the city’s various subcultures in the aftermath of World War II. She also writes about same-sex sexuality in Nazi and post-1945 Germany and is finishing a manuscript on pink triangle victims after Hitler. Her next two research projects are more contemporary in focus. “Hate 2.0: Combating Right-Wing Extremism in the Age of Social Technology” is a collaborative project supported by SSHRC that analyzes the role and potential of digital media in countering online hate. She is also interested in the way 1970s and 1980s queer erotic photography acted both as a practice of self-actualization and a claim to sexual freedom in the pre-AIDS era.

Co-sponsored by

Department of History, University of Toronto
Centre for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto
Joint Initiative for German and European Studies, University of Toronto
Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto