Charis welcomes Wendy L. Rouse in conversation with Dr. Lauran Whitworth for a discussion of Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives restores queer suffragists to their rightful place in the history of the struggle for women's right to vote. This event is co-sponsored by the Agnes Scott College WGSS Department.
The women's suffrage movement, much like many other civil rights movements, has an important and often unrecognized queer history. In Public Faces, Secret Lives Wendy L. Rouse reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the suffrage movement included a variety of individuals who represented a range of genders and sexualities. However, owing to the constant pressure to present a "respectable" public image, suffrage leaders publicly conformed to gendered views of ideal womanhood in order to make women's suffrage more palatable to the public.
Rouse argues that queer suffragists did take meaningful action to assert their identities and legacies by challenging traditional concepts of domesticity, family, space, and death in both subtly subversive and radically transformative ways. Queer suffragists also built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the suffrage movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives is the first work to truly recenter queer figures in the women's suffrage movement, highlighting their immense contributions as well as their numerous sacrifices.
Wendy L. Rouse is an Associate Professor of History at San Jose State University. Her scholarly research focuses on the history of women, gender, and sexuality during the Progressive Era. Rouse’s most recent work, Public Faces, Secret Lives: The Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, explores the ways that suffragists challenged norms of gender and sexuality in their era. Rouse is also the author of Children of Chinatown: Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1880-1920 and Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women’s Self-Defense Movement. https://wendylrouse.com/
Dr. Lauran Whitworth (she/her or they/them) is an Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Co-Director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program at Agnes Scott College. Her scholarly work has appeared in Feminist Theory, Intersections: Women's and Gender Studies in Review Across Disciplines, and caa.reviews. Her current book project, Environmental Eros: Picturing Feminist, Queer, and Trans Ecologies, brings together gender and sexuality studies, environmental studies, and film studies. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Lauran taught high school English for several years. When she isn’t teaching, grading papers, and serving on faculty committees, Professor Whitworth enjoys gardening, watching films, and hiking with her partner and their dog.
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Honorable Mention for the 2023 Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize2023 Judy Grahn Award-Publishing Triangle Finalist Restores queer suffragists to their rightful place in the history of the struggle for women's right to vote
Revealing the untold stories of a pioneer generation of young Chinese Americans, this book places the children and families of early Chinatown in the middle of efforts to combat American policies of exclusion and segregation.
The surprising roots of the self-defense movement and the history of women's empowerment.
At the turn of the twentieth century, women famously organized to demand greater social and political freedoms like gaining the right to vote. However, few realize that the Progressive Era also witnessed the birth of the women's self-defense movement.