Years of Experience

Dear Friends:

CLAGS’s mission to nurture LGBT scholarship means that we’re often looking into the past and into the future at the same time, remembering the queer past as we encourage cutting-edge scholarship. This feels especially true right now, since we’re preparing for our 20th anniversary and putting the finishing touches on our historic (in all senses of the word) conference, “In Amerika They Call Us Dykes: Lesbian Lives in the 1970s.”

The conference, which will take place over the weekend of October 8th-10th, will be a convening of hundreds of activists, scholars, artists, performers coming together to commemorate, celebrate, and analyze the crucial decade of the 1970s. We’ll have the opportunity to hear from women who were active in those years in all facets of lesbian life, as well as from women and men researching and writing about the period. The process of planning the conference has been thrilling for me; I’ve been able to work with a wide variety of women who bring to the table years of experience in lesbian cultures, politics, and scholarship. And I’m reminded again and again how powerful the influence of the 1970s has been on the politics and academic knowledges that would not have been available to all of us in the subsequent decades without the work of these courageous women.

As we’ve been working on the conference, I’ve also been thinking about the more recent past, and the promise of the future. This semester CLAGS will begin planning in earnest for our 20th anniversary, which will take place in the academic year 2011-2012. While I was just a child in the 1970s, I was a graduate student during the early years of CLAGS, and totally caught up in the ferment of the new movements in queer studies. Over the coming months we’ll be generating ways to both capture the excitement of CLAGS’s early years and reflect on the changes that CLAGS produced and has been shaped by. I invite you to share your suggestions and ideas about how we could best celebrate how far we’ve come, and ways in which we can engage with the future.


Sarah Chinn