“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” -- Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road
The Lafayette Queer Archives Project digital humanities site is designed to be a Queer experience. It mirrors a Queer perspective on knowledge, and its cross-referential structure intentionally reflects Eve Sedgwick’s insistence that Queer thought is literally “not straight.” The site also encourages the slippery power of curiosity. It is shaped to pique a visitor’s interest in both expected and unexpected ways, and allows for many kinds of “poking and prying.”
The Lafayette College LGBTQ+ oral history interviews are the heart of this site--and they are where you should begin. In these interviews, members of the LGBTQ+ community share their experiences at Lafayette and reflect on their time on campus. Every interview page contains the interview transcript, a parallel audio recording, and subject photos.
“Themes” are generated by oral history interviews and are listed at the end of individual transcripts. Themes reflect broad topics (such as “Academics” or “Race”) that have emerged from oral history interviews so far. Themes connect across other interviews and site materials, providing the “big picture” for Lafayette’s LGBTQ+ history. The list of themes will evolve and grow as we add new oral history interviews to the site.
“Keywords” are also generated by oral history interviews and are listed below "Themes" at the end of every transcript. Keywords represent focused, highly relevant concepts (such as “AIDS Memorial Quilt” or “Women’s and Gender Studies”) that have emerged from interviews so far. Keywords appear on the site only when there is archival material to support them. Like themes, Keywords connect across interviews and site materials. Keywords offer a more precise level of engagement with the Queer Archives Project.
Materials from the Lafayette College Archives saturate and enrich this entire site. Interviews, Themes and Keywords are linked to archival documents and ephemera in ways that illustrate and expand on interview content and on Queer history more broadly. This rich body of materials dimensionalizes the project, opening a myriad of new avenues for research.
Scalar allows reflective writing to be woven into the site through Sample Interpretive Paths. Paths are shaped by a researcher engaging with, critically reflecting on and writing about Queer Archives Project materials. Paths thread through the site, offering new nodes of connection and meaning. The Paths currently featured on the site are examples of student writers engaging with site materials for research purposes. Paths are added with permission of the site administrator.
Finally, you will notice the presence of thematic timelines. The timelines for each Theme incorporates interviews and archival materials chronologically, providing a familiar dimension through which to situate content. The timelines also provide a mechanism that helps track institutional and historical change on multiple registers.
In 1992, the Princeton Review named Lafayette College the most homophobic campus in the United States. In conceptualizing, designing, and building this site, one of our goals has been to make Lafayette recognizable as an institution that is working proactively, thoughtfully and creatively to support Queer experiences.