Evidence of a Queer Past - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities

Evidence of a Queer Past

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is honored to host Melissa Homestead for a lecture on the personal and creative life of American author Willa Cather: “Evidence of a Queer Past: Recovering Willa Cather and Edith Lewis’ Creative Partnership.”

Willa Cather. Photograph from Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries

In this lecture, Professor Homestead will give a brief overview of her recent book, The Only Wonderful Things, recovering Cather and Lewis’s domestic partnership and literary collaboration. The two lived an un-closeted, if discreet, life as a couple in New York City from 1908 to Cather’s death in 1947. Paradoxically, the fact that they did not hide their relationship made it impossible for some in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to recognize Cather as a lesbian. Pointing both to her very lack of hiding and to the absence of “evidence” of “sexual activities,” they protested the inappropriate projection of the identity politics of a later era onto a conservative woman of an earlier one.

Cather’s works form a unique, intimate, and complex interrogation of an American spirit that can only be found on the sparsely populated, harsh and unforgiving frontier. Her work has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the gold medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. And now, Melissa Homestead provides a fascinating look into the personal life of this author.

 

The lecture is Thursday, January 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Tyrrell Hall auditorium, with a simultaneous Zoom stream. The event is free and accessible to all. Mask wearing is strongly encouraged.

Questions can be sent to humanities@utulsa.edu

 

Melissa J. Homestead is Professor of English and Program Faculty in Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves as Director of the Cather Project and Associate Editor of The Complete Letters of Willa Cather: A Digital Edition. She has published widely on American women’s writing and authorship from the late 1700s through the early 1900s and is Co-Investigator on the NEH-funded Recovery Hub for American Women Writers, a multi-institutional digital project supporting recovering the works of women writers by providing digital access to forgotten or neglected texts and/or extending them through digital analysis.