Monthly Archives: November 2015

Queer-Negative Literature: Why Collect It?

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In the past year, the Neil Richards Collection for Sexual and Gender Diversity has begun expanding in a direction which may be surprising to many. Not only does this collection hold one of the widest arrays of queer literature in Canada, and not only does it contain numerous texts documenting the lives, struggles, and triumphs of LGBTQ2 persons from around the world – it now contains a small-but-growing selection of literature which may be considered by many LGBT or allies as homophobic, transphobic, or heterosexist. These are books which oppose or at the very least disagree with the goals of many LGBTQ2 persons, including anti-discrimination laws, same sex marriage, and the greater tolerance and acceptance of gay identity.

It may seem counter-intuitive to include materials of this ilk in a collection geared towards a creative and scholarly img594examination of differences of gender and sexuality. Indeed, texts which overtly denounce LGBTQ2 persons, which propose ways in which they can be “cured,” run exactly contrary to the spirit in which the Neil Richards Collection for Gender and Sexual Diversity was formed. Yet, without tracts of this nature, an important part of the history of gender and sexual diversity is lost.

If gay-negative texts were to be excluded from collections—if they were erased from history entirely– it would be easy to forget about the challenges faced by LGBTQ2 persons through time, and impossible to trace the ways in which society has evolved. In her article “Absence of Context: Gay Politics Without a Past,” Jen Manion makes the alarming observation that “the contemporary political img593movement for LGBTQ rights and equality has shown little interest in or . . . knowledge of [it’s] community’s history.” The loss of history for any community is a staggering blow, and it is this “dehistoricizing [of] queerness” that the Neil Richards Collection aims to combat. Only by preserving multiple aspects of queer history may a sense of community that stretches beyond spatial and temporal boundaries be formed, and only then may the suffering and successes of that community be fully understood.

Another significant reason for collecting anti-queer texts resides with societal accountability. Destroying texts which may be considered hateful does not erase that negative sentiment, but rather absolves the author of their words. On img592a large scale, the banishment of discriminatory literature provides a convenient reason to forget that discrimination and hate still exist within our society. If society is to be held accountable for discriminatory practices through time, evidence of that discrimination must be preserved. As Duff et al state in their 2013 study on the role archives and special collections may have in the realm of social justice : “Archival action . . . has the impact of raising awareness of inequality and discrimination,” which in turn leads to the “employment of intellectual and physical resources to challenge [those] inequalities.” Only by understanding historical imbalances can change come about.

The inclusion of such titles as Growing up Straight, Homosexuality: It’s Causes and Cure, and The Crises of     Homosexuality in the Neil Richards Collection for img591Sexual and Gender Diversity may, at first glance, be surprising. However, making these texts available to researchers provides a larger window onto LGBTQ2 history than that given from the queer perspective alone. It is the hope that, by providing as full a picture as possible, queer history can be reclaimed and society can be reminded of its responsibilities towards a segment of the population that has long been marginalized.

Sources:

Duff, Wendy ; Flinn, Andrew ; Suurtamm, Karen ; Wallace, David. Social justice impact of archives: a preliminary investigation. Archival Science, 2013, Vol.13(4), pp.317-348

Manion, Jen.The Absence of Context: Gay Politics without a Past. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking July 2014, img598Vol.1(2), pp.115-131.

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TBT – Rare Online Showcase

Originally published November 2011 on our Rare Books Online Showcase: Diary of Private Evan Patterson

For the November edition of the Rare Books Online Showcase to celebrate Remembrance Day, the University of Saskatchewan is showcasing our World War I Diary of a Canadian Private Suffering in the Trenches by Private Evan Patterson dated from late May 1915, saving two early entries: December 30, 1914, “Signed on with 3rd Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles at Medician Hat Alberta Canada” and on 2 January, “My birthday, had poor time.” This manuscript is a handwritten diary of a soldier serving in the trenches with the 3rd Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles. On 22 September, he left for France, marked on his calendar for 9 weeks.

The 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles were raised 15 March 1915 in Medicine Hat and Edmonton, AB from the 21st Alberta Hussars and placed under command of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Brigade. However, once overseas, it was found that requirements for mounted units were lower than that for infantry. (from http://www.archive.org/details/CEF_3CMR_1915). The beginnings of the diary include name, infantry division, height, age, complexion, and many other physical details about Private Patterson.

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Many of the Diary’s entries are brief – one gets the impression that one would have but little time for reflection, but it paints a realistic picture of life in the trenches. There is excitement, but also concise, curt admissions like “feel miserable” or the mention of injuries and casualties. The diary also contains interesting tidbits regarding the travelling from place to place that was done and it gives a wonderful textual map of his personal war experience.

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For more information about Remembrance Day visit the Wikipedia page here or visit the Royal Legion of Canada website here. The symbol of the poppy we wear in remembrance comes from the Canadian poet John McCrea poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields…
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields…

The information contained in the Diary is at times very different from this high literary conception and the historical study of war relies on both forms of textual documents for a complete picture of what happened. To see the diary or other items like it come on up to the 3rd floor of the Murray Library and visit Special Collections.

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The Great War

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University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, Photograph Collection, A-1130

Link Gallery Exhibit: The Great War, November 2015 – January 2016, 1st Floor, Murray Library

On June 28, 1914, a young Bosnian nationalist in the then obscure Balkan town of Sarajevo shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  This violent but seemingly isolated act set in motion a series of policies that were to culminate in August 1914 in the outbreak of the most destructive war up to that time. The struggle, called by contemporaries “the Great War”, ended in November 1918, after nearly four-and-a-half years of fighting. It also had a great and lasting impact on University of Saskatchewan.

University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, MG 289, War 53rd

The Great War was the first truly global conflict. Over twenty separate countries and empires fought in the conflict that cost the lives of an estimated 15 to 18 million combatants and civilians. The bulk of the Canadian force was sent to the Western Front primarily in Flanders and France. Canadians also saw action in Macedonia, Dardanelles, Egypt and Palestine, North-West Persia and Caspian, Murmansk, Archangel and Siberia. The war opened in August of 1914 and closed in November of 1918 but its influence can be felt today. When peace finally came, three of the world`s great empires – Russian, Austria-Hungarian and Ottoman – no longer existed. The Great War changed everything. People would no longer view war as a romantic adventure. The era of Kings and empires was coming to a close. Germany and Turkey were republics and Russia was the first communist state. The nationalism that had sparked the conflagration was given legitimacy in the Treaty of Versailles and the Balkans was a patchwork of nation states. The Great War changed borders, politics, science, art and literature. It was the death of the old world and the birth of the world we know today. The war to end all wars did not.

University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, Diefenbaker fonds, JGD 68

The gallery contains material exclusively from the University Archives and Special Collections. The subjects covered are driven by the archival and printed sources in the collection. It is hoped that the presentation of one of a kind and rare material will aid in the research into and knowledge of the Great War.

Patrick Hayes
UASC

 

 

Please visit the RememberUS website for more Great War material at University Archives and Special Collections.

The web page was conceived by the University of Saskatchewan Great War commemoration committee that was formed in February of 2014. The site contains material scanned exclusively from the University Archives and Special Collections.