Teaching Religion in the History of U.S. Sexuality
|Teaching in the archives. Photograph by Dan Dry,|
courtesy of the University of Chicago Magazine.
So where are the sources?
Given the constraints of time and space -- it's important to me that undergraduates gain experience in archival research, so I'll be teaching in Chicago's Special Collections Research Center, which gives us access to important collections including those of Chicago sociologist Ernest Burgess and the papers of ACT UP Chicago -- I've pulled just a few of my favorite readings for considering religion in the recent history of American sexuality:
- Marie Griffith's 2008 Journal of American History article, "The Religious Encounters of Alfred C. Kinsey;"
- Leslie Tentler's 2004 Commonweal article, "A Bitter Pill," an introduction to her research for Catholics and Contraception: An American History (we'll also be screening PBS's American Experience documentary, "The Pill," which does an admirable job of addressing the religious issues involved, with Tentler providing some of the commentary); and
- Randall Balmer's August 2013 piece over at The Christian Century, "When Evangelicals Change with the Culture."
|The Bible and Dr. Kinsey pamphlet (1953),|
via The Kinsey Institute
Closer to home, the University of Chicago's current oral history project, Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, which I'm helping to coordinate, has begun to document links between liberal religion and social activism on campus in the stories of LGBTQ individuals and communities since the era of Gay Lib. Recent alumni interviews have led us to moments when the University's gay and lesbian association was directed by a core of graduate students from the University's Divinity School; during the 1980s Brent House, the Episcopal campus ministry, opened their building to the group's work. The archive of interviews won't be available to outside researchers until 2015, but my students will have the opportunity to work with the oral histories this fall.
All of this is to say that I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface--religion is, after all, just one of the themes I hope to cover in this survey course. There have been some great posts on the blog over the last few months considering religion and sexuality, and it's a conversation I'm glad to see picking up steam.
This is also a good place to mention that it's not too late to respond to the CFP for "Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the 20th Century U.S.," to be edited by Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather White [full CFP here], so if you have a topic in mind, do consider submitting a proposal for what promises to be a great collection. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite primary and secondary sources for teaching religion in the history of U.S. sexuality? My students and I are all ears.
What about evangelical sex manuals, including the very popular one by the LaHayes?
There was a wonderfully perceptive and punny essay in Church History several years back (2008 or 2009?) on evangelical sex manuals as well, but can't recall the name.
I note that the resources section doesn't include the LGBT Religious Archives Network. They've got lots of online material, you students could definitely mine it:
T&P, I had forgotten about the LGBT Religious Archives Network, as well as the newly revamped OutHistory.org, and will add them to my list of research resources.
Can you tell I'm crossing my fingers one of my students decides to write their final research paper on religion?