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Gender History in a Non-Binary World: A Workshop for Doctoral Students

  • Room GOR 124, Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square London, WC1H 0PD (map)

As academic research increasingly turns its attention to experiences of gender beyond binary notions of male and female, this poses questions about how we understand and describe instances of gender nonconformity in the past. Many historians would argue against the existence of fixed or stable identities throughout history and argue in favour of using anachronistic terminology strategically to better convey the diversity of gender identities and gender expressions experienced by people in past societies.  For students trying to navigate these questions and their implications in their research, this can be challenging terrain.

This workshop offers training for students in ways of researching, teaching and engaging the public in histories of gender nonconformity, non-binary and transgender experiences. The workshop will be relevant to historians of all periods and students working on gender and/or sexuality in literature and art history.

Working with leading historians, archivists and museum professionals, participants will address issues such as:

  • Working with documentary and oral sources to research gender nonconformity in the past

  • Developing techniques to recognise diverse and marginalised histories and work with sources sensitively 

  • The importance of developing diverse historical narratives around gender and communicating them to the public

  • Advantages and challenges of co-production with marginalised communities

  • Complexity of teaching non-binary and transgender histories to students who identify as cis, trans and non-binary

  • Navigating historical research into trans and non-binary lives in the context of a divisive and fraught contemporary political terrain

In preparation for the workshop participants will be expected to read documentary sources and oral history transcripts which will be emailed in advance, plus any extracts from secondary sources selected by the session leaders.