Lecture Honors Esther Newton’s Butch Career

Professor Esther Newton delivered the 1996 David R. Kessler Lecture on December 6 in the Proshansky Auditorium. The lecture was entitled “My Butch Career: A Memoir.” Newton is a pioneering scholar in the field of lesbian and gay anthropology. A professor of anthropology and women’s studies at Purchase College (SUNY), she is the author of several groundbreaking essays and books, including her classic study of female drag performers, Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America (University of Chicago Press, 1972), and her Holly Hughes, Jane Rosett, Esther Newton, and Jean Carlomusto ethnohistory of the Cherry Grove community, Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town (Beacon, 1993). Jill Dolan, CLAGS Executive Director, gave the welcoming address. Board member Ara Wilson made a call for contributions to the center’s fundraising efforts. Martin Manalansan, also a CLAGS Board Member, moderated the event. Before her lecture, the importance of Newton’s work not only to the field of anthropology but to cultural studies, literature, gender studies, women’s studies, and, of course, gay and lesbian studies, was mapped out by William Leap, Professor of Anthropology at American University, and judith Halberstam, Associate Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego.