Conference Announcement: Sexing the Past: ‘What is and how to do LGBT history’, 3-5 March 2017

2017 marks 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 and this is the theme for the upcoming conference, which will take place on Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th March 2017 at The Bluecoat, Liverpool.

To register for the conference, click here. For more information about the conference please contact


Preliminary programme

Friday 3rd March

18:00 Official Launch and the 3rd Allan Horsfall Lecture

Venue: Redmonds Large Lecture Theatre, Liverpool John Moores University

The speaker for this year’s Horsfall Lecture is award-winning author and biographer Diana Souhami. The title of her lecture is ‘The Painter Gluck, “no prefix, suffix, or quotes” and Other Notable Lesbians’.

Saturday 4th March

08:15 Registration

09:00 Welcome & Opening Remarks by Sue Saunders (Professor Emeritus, Harvey Milk Institute & Chair of Schools OUT UK) & Jeffrey Weeks (Research Professor, London South Bank University)

09:45 Paper Session 1

1A. Regulation and Recognition in the 20th Century I

  • Learning from Wolfenden’s silent women,  Caroline Derry (London Metropolitan University)
  • The Sexual Offences Act, 1967, Mark Dunton (National Archives, Kew)
  • Who’s offensive now? The law and trans people at the time of the Sexual Offences Act, Zoë Playdon (Independent Scholar)

1B. Interrogating Sexuality and Gender in the Ancient to Early-modern Periods

  • Gender and citizenship in ancient Rome, Cheryl Morgan (OutStories Bristol)
  • Trans/gender/human – Rediscovering genderqueer narratives in medieval sanctity, Jonah Coman (University of St Andrews)
  • Teaching the history of Early American sexuality, Richard Godbeer (Virginia Commonwealth University)

11.30 Paper Session 2

2A. Regulation and Recognition in the 20th Century II

  • The battle for decriminalisation of (male) homosexuality in (West) Germany, 1945-1969, Rainer Schulze (University of Exeter)
  • Legality of homosexuality in the Eastern Bloc and the origins of the Polish homosexual movement, Łukasz Szulc (University of Antwerp)
  • The long arm of discrimination: legacies of the age of consent and the Sexual Offences Act 1967 for coming to terms with child sexual abuse today, Kate Gleeson (Macquarie Law School)

2B. The Terminology of Sexual Regulation in the Premodern World

  • Avoiding alternitas: Peter Cantor and how not to be a sodomite, Blake Gutt (King’s College, Cambridge)
  • “Amongst Christians not to be named”: The importance of legal idiom to the study of sex between men in early modern England, Kit Heyam (University of Leeds)
  • Clarifying Muzhelozhestvo: On the legal terminology for male same-sex desire in Imperial Russia, Nick Mayhew (Jesus College, Cambridge)

13.00 Lunch

14:00 Showcase Perspectives: What and who are the subjects of LGBT History?

Reflecting this year’s theme, these forums provide opportunities to consider the practicalities as well as the implications of the Sexual Offences Act by drawing upon various experiences and perspectives. They will also serve to highlight changing attitudes and practices as well as areas for exploration within LGBT history.

Law and the Military

Contributors to be confirmed

Law and Civic Society

Invited contributors include Paul Murphy OBE, member of the Greater Manchester Police Committee and others TBC.

15.00 Paper Session 3

3A. Historicising LGBT Lives in the Armed Forces

  • The inconsistent criminal prosecution of World War II military and auxiliary wartime services men for inter-male sex, Jeff Evans (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Sex at sea: Homosexuality and the Royal Navy in the Great War, Laura Rowe (University of Exeter)
  • Do ask, do tell: Challenging notions of silence, secrecy and exclusion of homosexuals in Cold War militaries, Fia Sundevall (Stockholm University)

3B. LGBT Citizenship as Reflected in Cultural Responses and the Popular Press

  • Antiquated legalities: The Internal Times Prosecution, 1969, Valerie Stevenson (Liverpool John Moores University)
  • “This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland”: Attempting Homosexual Law Reform in Northern Ireland, 1957-82, Rachael Wallace (Queens University Belfast)
  • Covering the metropole from the periphery: Paradoxes of post-colonial discourses on same-sex sexualities, Yuval Yonay (University of Haifa)

16:30 Panel Discussion: (Post)Colonial Legacies of De/criminalisation

In this session, activists will discuss their perspective on de/criminalisation as well as ongoing efforts on behalf  of LGBT rights and advocacy. It will also provide an opportunity to reflect on concerns that shape how we historicise LGBT lives in (post) colonial contexts.

Panellists include Sunil Pant, founder of the Blue Diamond Society (Nepal), and others to be confirmed.

Conference Dinner and Evening Entertainment (1960s Disco)

Sunday 5th March

09:00 Panel Discussion: Historicising Sex and Gender in the Ancient, Early-modern, and Late-modern Periods

The discussion is dedicated to addressing the possibilities of challenges associated with historicising sex and gender in three epochs. Among others things, panellists will reflect on perspectives, sources and terminology.

Panellists includes Kit Heyam (Leeds University), Sanja Vucetic (University College London) and others to be confirmed.

10:00  Paper Session 4

4A. Materializing Legality: Archives, Heritage and Museums in LGBT History

  • Material and immaterial objects as legacies in queer wills, Antu Sorainen (University of Helsinki)
  • Interrogating law and court texts to find queer history, Runar Jordåen and Hannah Gillow Kloster (Skeivt Arkiv, the Norwegian queer archive)
  • Museums, citizenship and material resistance, Ingrid Berg and Fia Sundevall (Stockholm University)

4B. Scientific Approaches and Discourses

  • A political choice: On the liberal implications of bio-determinism in the fight for gay rights in Germany, 1898-1933, Tom Butcher (University of Virginia)
  • Making it count: Surveying sexual diversity around 1904 in Germany, Ina Linge (University of Cambridge)
  • Reading the Wolfenden Report in a transnational context, Julia Maclaclan (University of Manchester)

11.45 Showcase Workshops: How do we practically do LGBT History

Addressing one of the conferences ongoing commitments, these workshops focus on approaches and methodologies that are relevant to historicising LGBT lives and experiences.

  • Statistical Approaches to LGBT History, Jeff Evans (Manchester Metropolitan University), K G Valente (Colgate University)
  • Giving Voice: Using Oral History Methods to Reveal LGBT Lives, Molly Merryman (Kent State University)
  • Historicising Trans*, Stephen Whittle (Manchester Metropolitan University)

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Paper Session 5

5A. Literary Insights and Dramatic Interventions

  • Twentieth century ‘gay’ literature as a valid and reliable source of historical insight, Andrew Herm (University of Sheffield)
  • The experience of shame in transgender individuals and communities: Some insight from Franz Kafka, Simona Giordano (University of Manchester)
  • “Passing for straight”: Reactions to the 1979 production of Bent, Chad McDonald (University of Bristol & University of Southampton)

5B. Exploring Sexuality, Gender and Identity through Material Culture

  • Finding Gender and Sexuality in Prehistory: A Case Study from Cyprus, Sarah Douglas (University of Manchester)
  • Varda: 50 years of LGBT art and visual culture, Charlotte Keenan (National Museums Liverpool)
  • Using archaeological methods to uncover and commemorate trans history, Lois Stone (University of Manchester)

15.30 Forum & Closing Remarks: The Future of LGBT History


The ‘What is & How to Do LGBT History’ conference was established in 2012 to create a platform for research. Our aim is to highlight current work on LGBTQI  identities and showcase this research.

Previous conferences have attracted professional scholars at the cutting edge of research including: Alison Oram (Leeds Beckett), Charles Upchurch (Florida State University), Matt Cook (Birkbeck College, University of London) Susan Stryker (University of Arizona) and Stephen Whittle (Manchester Metropolitan University).  International representation is important to us, and the conference has been enhanced by delegates and presenters from France, Germany, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Poland.

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