Writing

Love in the Lav: A Social Biography of Same-Sex Desire in Twentieth-Century Ireland

 

Love in the Lav: A Social Biography of Same-Sex Desire in Ireland is a history of sexuality, masculinity, and state-building through the reconstructed lives of men and boys in Dublin’s same-sex desiring world from 1922 to 1966. Few of Ireland’s same-sex desiring men left records of their lives or love. As a methodology, social biography permits historians to weave a narrative of individual experiences through the larger contexts in which they are embedded. Love in the Lav utilizes close readings of court room testimonies, police records, genealogical research, memoir, fiction, public discourses in Irish newspapers, and the speeches and sermons of religious officials to capture the imprints of ordinary same-sex desiring men who kept to the shadows, seeking pleasure in darkened allies and unlit public lavatories. Through seven chapter-long social biographical case studies, Love in the Lav reveals how the structures governing male same-sex desire in Ireland played out on the bodies of three groups: the men who had sex with men; the teen boys who sold sex to men; and the guards who policed them. While commemorating the lives ruined by state-enforced homophobia, my monograph argues that the persecution of same-sex desiring men was central to Irish postcolonial state-building.

My work has also appeared in the Journal of the History of Sexuality (2019) and Historical Reflections (2020). "Solicitor Brown and His Boy," (2020) won the Judith R. Walkowitz Prize for Best Article in the History of Gender & Sexuality from the North American Conference on British Studies. 

Spirits of Feminism: Raising Radicals from the Dead in Lily Dale, NY 

(Under contract with Three Hills Press) Spirits of Feminism is a fresh, smart history of the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, New York. The four historian-producers of Dig: A History Podcast deliver a popular feminist history featuring all the autobiographical snippets, pop culture references, and intelligent yet cheeky historical interpretations that listeners have come to expect, this time focused on Lily Dale. The book will combine the authors’ firsthand experiences in the town, along with deep explorations of its background in first wave feminism, religious revival and reform. Expected 2023. 

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