Phil Zwickler Memorial Research Grant News

News about the 2003 grants

September 8, 2003

Cornell Library Awards Research Grants for Human Sexuality Projects

Ithaca, NY

Cornell University Library has announced the winners of its second Phil Zwickler Memorial Research Grants. Made possible by support from the Phil Zwickler Charitable and Memorial Foundation, the grants provide financial assistance to scholars when they come to Cornell University Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) to conduct research on sexuality.

Zwickler, a filmmaker and journalist who devoted his talents to communicating ideas about lesbian and gay rights and the AIDS crisis, died in 1991 at age 36. Cornell preserves documentation of his life and work as part of its Human Sexuality Collection, a program established to encourage the study of sexuality and sexual politics by preserving and making accessible important primary sources that document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality.

"While the arrival of new research materials is exciting to me as a curator, it really all seems worthwhile only when researchers come and use them," said Brenda Marston, curator of the library's Human Sexuality Collection. Students and faculty at Cornell use the collections extensively, and Marston adds "this grant funding provides a tremendous boost in making these materials accessible to the wider research community."

This year, the Zwickler funding, supplemented generously by Prof. Martha Fineman's Dorothea S. Clarke Fund, sponsored three scholars: New York University American Studies graduate student, Christina B. Hanhardt; University of Southern California's Art History Associate Professor Richard Meyer; and University of Wisconsin - Madison Assistant Professor of History and Women's Studies Anne Enke.

Christina B. Hanhardt's project "'Safe Space': Sexual Minorities, Uneven Development, and the Politics of Anti-Violence" is innovative, cross-disciplinary study that tackles a real-world problem - hatred and violence. Her research places the real need of sexual minorities for protection from violent attack within the larger frame of urban political economy. She will trace changes from the 1970s through the 90s in anti-violence organizing in San Francisco and New York and show that different communities have different perceptions of the sources of danger and of appropriate solutions. Her research will have important implications for public policy. In addition to producing a dissertation that likely will be published, Ms. Hanhardt works on a radio collective and plans to produce a radio series based on her research. She also plans to bring her work to policy makers.

She received a grant of $1,225 and plans to spend three weeks at Cornell in January 2004 consulting a variety of collections documenting lesbian and gay activism, a subject which is one of the Library's strengths. She will also speak while on campus as part of the LBG Studies colloquia series.

Professor Richard Meyer's project, "Secret Histories at Art," makes use of Cornell Library's early physique and bodybuilding photographs and periodicals, as well as several of our manuscript collections. Prof. Meyer is interested in the ways that "For sexual minorities in particular, visual images have often functioned less as a reflection of reality than as an alternative to it…." His award of $1350 supported a research trip here in July 2003.

Prof. Anne Enke is working to add Black women's voices to the telling of lesbian history during the period from the 1950s to 1980s. She is looking at leisure spaces, such as softball fields and coffeehouses, for indications of the formation of community and alternative culture. Her research in Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis is shedding light on 3 questions: "…the production of white privilege among feminists…; the significance of sexuality in efforts to resist segregation and racism; and the ways that activist networks constructed sexual subcultures and feminism through considerable cultural exchange across race, class, political ideology, and region." Prof. Enke wrote, "Since the 1960s, historians of sexuality have asserted that sexuality is socially constructed. But one of the most pressing questions remains: just how and by what processes is sexuality constructed?" Her work will address this fundamental question.

Key to her research was access to Roey Thorpe's oral history project with African-American and white lesbians in Detroit held in Cornell's Human Sexuality Collection. Since this important collection was small in size and relatively easy to transport safely, RMC decided to make the collection available to her through a loan to the University of Wisconsin Library, and awarded her $125 to help with photocopying expenses.

The grant committee, composed of Fineman, Marston, and Amy Villarejo, Associate Professor, Theatre, Film & Dance and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, was pleased to be able to support the diverse and significant work of these three scholars.

For more information about Cornell Library's Human Sexuality Collection, or next year's Zwickler Memorial Research Grants, contact Brenda Marston at bjm4@cornell.edu, or (607) 255-3530.