Finding hope and trans support, solidarity and liberation in the archives

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, including She Who Must Not Be Named and a certain NTEU branch president and convenor of the NTEU queer unionists caucus have been quite vocal and I’ve found myself retreating to the Australian archival material most easily accessible online and thought I’d travel back in time and share some hope I’ve found and help me and others construct a kind of archive armour that Archie Barry describes:

“It seems I’ve now naturally fallen into a role that many queer and gender-­diverse people fall into: that of informal researcher. We silently horde content – URLs, zines, ads, pamphlets, stickers, mp3s, books, posters – to build a personalised buffer, a kind of archive armour, between the self and the ­cis-hetero world.”

Trans erasure, trans visibility: History, archives, and art by Archie Barry Nov 6, 2018, Archer Magazine

Transsexual Liberation in Lesbianon

Foreman, Ben & Lewis, Susan, ‘Transsexual Liberation‘, Lesbianon, no. 5, Lesbian Anon [This scan courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Melbourne], Perth, 1975, p. 3.

From Transsexual Liberation by Susan Lewis and Ben Foreman

“In response to our oppression, and the need to organise against it, a number of us,
all transsexuals, have come together under the name of The Transsexual Action
Organisation… We extend our full support to the gay and women’s movements because we are all fighting the same oppressor – a society which decrees that a person born male should behave one way and that a person born female in another. We also see ourselves in solidarity with the struggles of mental patients, blacks, prisoners and all other oppressed groups – for the liberation of one can only be achieved by the liberation of all.”

There was a piece in Camp Ink on transvestite and transsexual liberation in the US in 1971, p.6.

This photograph of  Roberta Perkins speaking at the Australian Transsexual Association (ATA) and Gay Solidarity protest in 1982. Find out Robert Perkins via the Roberta Perkins Law Project which I attended the launch of in lockdown.

Boys Will Be Boys Newsletter from Digital Transgender Archive

This has been one of my favourite collections, particularly the letters from subscribers.

Alex,  and Jasper.  “Boys Will Be Boys, No.1 (February, 1992).”  Newsletter.  1992.  Digital Transgender Archive.

“… Eight F2M boys have come to my attention within the last two months. Though seemingly a small number, compared to knowing only a handful previously and having met no-one before my gender change, this is quite incredible and only goes to show that there are more of us out there than we may well have imagined.
Naturally, this is only the tip of a very isolated iceberg. Many of us are still feeling
alienated or unsure of our decisions. Most of us lack sufficient information,
especially medical, to better aid our decisions. All of us need support. For those of
you on this mailing list please consider writing something of yourself and your
experiences for others to read. Only first names will be used and naturally no
addresses or phone numbers unless specifically given ·for publication will be printed.
It’s important that we share our thoughts, insecurities, excitement fears and
knowledge. This group can only work if each individual is prepared to participate,
even just a little. Don’t leave this newsletter up to a dedicated few. This support
group can have a far reaching impact on the quality of our lives and the education of
the community at large. You don’t have to already have changed yourself physically
yet, or ever intend to, to be involved. Your awareness of your male gender is all that
is relevant…”

Jasper.  “Boys Will Be Boys, No.6 (August, 1992).”  Newsletter.  1992.  Digital Transgender Archive.

“Dear Jasper,
Thanks very much for the newsletter-It’s great to know there are others going through similar experiences that I am and I find it all very encouraging….”

“Well, I’ve noticed in recent overseas newsletters and in some local literature also, that we transsexuals are now referring to ourselves as”transgenderists”. The change in terminology certainly makes sense, as logically, we are not changing our sexuality but our physical gender. I don’ know who coined the new label but it certainly feels better than the previous one, although it takes a little getting used to. I’d be interested to see if the new term will be used within medical circles.

Jasper.  “Boys Will Be Boys, No. 5 (July, 1992).”  Newsletter.  1992.  Digital Transgender Archive.

“With a little trepidation, much thought and a lot of self analysing, I took a deep breath, then a giant step forwards. Forwards into the world of tranny boys and adopted the new persona of being a man. Now, here I am, a new kid in town. But is this what I really want for my now, my future? Emphatically, from the rooftops of my mind, body, heart and soul I yell. YES! This is what I want. YES! This is where I want to go. YES! YES! A thousand times YES! … Hear I would like to say a very big THANKS JASPER, for making your arduous trek as public as you have. Your doing so has paved the way ahead and made It easier for myself and the others that follow.”

“As a lover of a transsexual (F/M) I feel that there may be others in my position out there who may benefit from my contribution. To start with, Jamie and I have been together for nearly two years. We have celebrated a spiritual union in the presence of our friends and are therefore “married” by our community… To all the transsexuals out there, as a lover of a transsexual, I think I can say there is someone out there for you. I know I am happy with Jamie most of the time and to Jamie the transition to masculinity is the step which will give him peace in this world. To see my lover attain this peace will make me happy for him.”

Jasper.  “Boys Will Be Boys, No. 10 (December, 1992).”  Newsletter.  1992.  Digital Transgender Archive.

“How many years have we fought alongside the gay community for their rights and dignity? Where’s the thanks? Trannies are victims of violence too and certainly have even fewer rights than gays. It was quite ironic that the entertainment for the day included three ‘drag’ shows and was hosted by two men in frocks! I am pleased to say that local drag superstar, Cindy Pastel, took to the stage with a placard declaring “Trannies and Bisexuals are Queer too!”. Good on her. Jasper.”

Jasper.  “Boys Will Be Boys, No. 15 (August-September, 1993).”  Newsletter.  1993.  Digital Transgender Archive.

“Dear Jasper,
The contact and the newsletters have given me the hope to keep going after hitting another very low spot after being told that I would not be supported in my belief that I am a Transsexual after 2 years in therapy struggling with depression trying to stay sane and looking desperately for a million “other” reasons why I feel the way I am; a male in a female body which came to light in previous few years of therapy by feeling safe and allowing myself to ‘feel”, stop denying and to think about “me” for the first time in my life…”

I found some hope in Lesbians on the loose from the 1990s, including the following in a letter from 1990, but also quite a lot of hate, so I’ve stopped reading for now:

“It’s a time to look at our differences and similarities not a time for them to put a halt to the possibility of our space. So often I see internal politics destroy a movement, an idea, a vision far more effectively than the perceived enemy ever can.”

There was a brief piece on Julie Peters running as a Federal election candidate in 1996:

“Julie Elizabeth Peters [pictured] is believed to be the first endorsed lesbian transsexual candidate for a major political party…. A director of photography at ABC TV, Peters, 44, concedes her chances of beating Labor candidate, ACTU president Martin Ferguson, are slim. But she says her candidature for the Australian Democrats is an important step for tranys.”

Listen to Julie Peters on the Archive Fever and Transgender Warriors podcasts.

Julie Peters political endeavours reminded me of Georgina Beyer and I found her landslide New Zealand local council campaign victory reported in the Canberra Times, which made me want to revisit this episode of the One From the Vaults podcast on her and the art of the possible. While thinking about New Zealand trans history, I revisited this Trans Past, Trans Present: The Making Trans Histories Project from Te Papa Museum in which:

“Trans people from their teens to their 70s were asked to identify objects of personal importance and to share the objects’ stories. What emerged was a quirky collection that is a testament to the diversity of trans experiences, and which disrupts established (and cis-written) narratives about trans lives.”

This project was inspired by the Museum of Transology in the UK whose founder, E-J Scott, grew up in Australia, which you can find out more about in the following pieces:

Trans masculinity on the record

The Museum of Everyday Objects That Makes Transgender Lives Visible

A Collection Devoted to Intimate Trans Stories

Museum of Transology Online exhibition via Google Arts & Culture

One of my favourite articles and quotes on trans history by E-J Scott:

Where can trans people call home in history?

“The Museum of Transology shows that the social agency of museums can be used to foster social cohesion. This show needs to go on the road because its everyday objects help people accept the everydayness of being trans. If it were to tour, community collecting and archiving workshops could run as an engagement programme alongside the exhibition. This would skill trans communities everywhere to build their own museums of transology collections, leaving an imprint on collections throughout the UK and halting the erasure of transcestry. The process would also encourage trans people to enter the museum sector. This is vital, because without them becoming heritage workers, trans narratives will continue to remain unrecognised and unspoken.”

I am so happy I managed to visit and find home in 2019:

Finding home at the Museum of Transology

In the beforetimes earlier this year, I had a chat with E-J Scott and some museum and academic comrades about bringing the Museum of Transology on tour around Australia. It’s pretty hard to imagine doing anything like that in the near future, but perhaps we’ll be able to do something online like the Te Papa Museum project while we wait.

I also found a bit of hope that things could be different in Pat’s story in Daylesford Stories from 2016 which is quite aligned to my increasingly frequent thoughts of running away to the country and starting or joining an art library.

Student newspapers might also be a good source of trans solidarity and liberation and quite a few seem to be getting digitised and made available online lately, so I think they’ll be my next archival step. Find out more about Australian academic library student newspaper holdings in this paper.

Another thing I did in the beforetimes earlier this year, was visit the University of Newcastle and learn about their GLAMx Lab and work with the Hunter Rainbow History Group and other community history groups. Their work gave me so much hope which has been so necessary in these times, and has led to me embarking on a small project with special collections at MPOW this week (and dreams about special collections cataloguing all weekend!).

My retreat to the archives in the middle of a pandemic echoes my post on my response to a certain 2017 postal survey and it’s probably not surprising that I am feeling similarly in lockdown (I have included archives in my killjoy survival toolkit which has certainly been needed in this times):

“I have been doing even more thinking about this topic than usual in the last month in with much related reflection on inclusion, self care and emotional labour in a risk adverse industry. For a variety of reasons, mostly related to a certain voluntary, non-binding postal survey on Australian marriage law in some way, I have been feeling less safe and a lot more exhausted than usual… so I am going to play it a bit safe this month and share some archival adventures that have helped me find safety and solidarity at a time when I have needed it more than ever.”

You may like to listen to some more library and archival adventures in this podcast interview I did with Anne Rowlands at the beginning of lockdown 1 and check out our pretty extensive reading and other media recommendations list too. See also: Anne’s Transgender-related materials Trove lists.

Posted in GLAM blog club, Time | Leave a comment

Queer career cocooning and reflections

Earlier this year, I volunteered to do a queer career profile for students at MPOW.

Just before writing my responses I came across this queer and careed: practice career cacooning article about how this time of job uncertainty and anxiety might also be a time to prepare and reflect on your career path:

“Inspired by the caterpillar’s process, cocooning describes a time in your life in which you are strongly encouraged, or more likely forced, to wait — to sit, get comfortable, pour yourself a cup of tea, and prepare for the transformation that is taking place in you. Many of us are being forced to deal with career cocoons right now: cocoons of job loss or career anxiety or general helplessness as we navigate working from home or virtual job searches for the first time.”

It reminded me that COVID-19 had brought similar feelings of grief, loss, uncertainty and anxiety to ones I had following the death of an amazing supervisor and mentor around the time of a large restructure that led to much reflection and soul searching and creativity.

I was reminded of this time in my life again even more recently when another amazing supervisor and mentor I had who helped me through it, Leesa Wheelahan, co-wrote this article on the future and history of higher education and work with Tamson Pietsch. This particular extract from the article reminded me of conversations I had with Leesa that helped inform my decision to become a librarian:

“People need to live in safe, inclusive communities and they need to be able to have a say in the kind of society we share. People, after all, are more than job seekers. People study and go to work so they can sustain themselves and their families and because they find these activities meaningful. They do not study and go to work because it contributes to the creation of markets. This may be the outcome of their activity, but for most people it is not the purpose of their lives. An education system focused on skills misses this bigger picture, in which the whole person is developed for an occupation, which is part of a broader network of occupations in society. Occupations are composed of many specific jobs. They are underpinned by both theoretical and practical knowledge. Occupations have histories, face ethical dilemmas and are part of a complex web of other occupations that work with each other.”

It connects to my queer career experiences and responses (slightly edited) and I thought I would share them here in case it helps anyone in the sector or in another sector navigate COVID-19 induced job (and life) uncertainty and anxiety.

I think they also relate to this month’s GLAM blog club theme of risk and the wonderful Jenny Scott’s thoughts on the topic and offering of inspiration to our sector:

It is a risk if we don’t promote diverse stories, if we don’t address the less-than-savoury pasts of our institutions, if we don’t produce exhibitions and texts that actively engage with the manifold, nuanced, and often dark histories of this country.

You can listen to some related thoughts (and reading/listening/viewing recommendations) from me and Anne Rowlands in this Transgender Warriors interview.

I feel like librarianship, particularly the people I’ve met, studied and worked with since becoming a librarian, helped me emerge from a cocoon, find my (genderqueer butterfly) self and community, and given me resources, confidence and connections to take risks, think creatively, share diverse stories, and challenge the status quo and fight for a more fair, just and inclusive society. There’s much more work to be done! ALGA has been like a beautiful queer cocoon that I retreat to when the mainstream GLAM sector (and world) becomes too much, recharge, and then re-emerge to join the fight again with renewed hope.

How has your queer identity influenced your career path?

Growing up with a gay dad and later realising my own queerness helped me discover the power of stories, information and online communities and I’ve found a career where I spend my time helping connect people with stories, information, and communities, and advocating for social justice and inclusion. I first studied psychology and sociology as I knew I wanted to help people and understand, question and change systems in some way, but wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to do that for a long time after I finished studying. I thought about going down a social work or teaching path, but after some grief-induced soul searching in which I connected with librarians and others at work, I realised that librarian jobs sounded like a good combination of those two paths, my interests and experiences. So I started studying a Masters of Information Management where I found a wonderful community of information management students and future librarians and archivists.

It feels like starting my librarian career was very intertwined with realising my nonbinary gender identity as once I’d largely stopped questioning what I was going to do with my life, I started questioning everything else, particularly gender. Studying to be and working as a librarian has not only helped me find my community, but also helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before.

I am also delighted that I get to work with so many of my trans and queer academic heroes (or queeroes) by day and some of this work has led to my volunteer work with ALGA by night where I’ve met and worked with even more queeroes (and found some in the archives).

Have there been any challenges in your career related to having a queer identity? If yes, how have you approached these challenges?

The biggest challenges relate to the many systems we use in libraries and the large bureaucracies we work in and with that make any change in them very slow. In particular, many libraries use a number of classification systems that were developed many years ago in the US and attempt or claim to be universal and neutral but they have extremely problematic legacies of heterosexism, cissexism, sexism, racism, and more discrimination. I’ve also come across many people in the profession who argue that librarians are and have to be neutral and therefore shouldn’t challenge discrimination or fight for social justice but all that this myth of neutrality does is perpetuate the unequal and discriminatory status quo.

However, there are also many queer and trans people and allies in the sector who have been challenging that myth and advocating to change the systems we use (and improvements have been made). Connecting with these people in archives/from history, on Twitter, and in real life has helped keep me going. It’s also been very empowering working with ALGA as our collection is of our communities, by our communities and for our communities and items are described in our own words. Our collection is more diverse than our name suggests and we’re working on changing the name.

One of the things I am most proud of doing at work is how I’ve helped make time and space for critical, creative and collective reflection with colleagues on our practices and sector. I also enjoy creating book displays in the library and sharing shelfies on social media to amplify LGBTIQ+ voices that sometimes get lost in the stacks due to inadequate and sadly sometimes harmful classification.

Do you have any advice to other queer people interested in starting a career in your industry?

Librarians can be found working in local communities, schools, universities, government departments, law firms, hospitals and state libraries or using their skills outside of libraries in a diverse range of roles from children’s and youth services to research data management. The thing that tends to unite us is not that we love books and reading, but more that we help people in whatever communities we are part of connect with information, stories and each other in different ways. So any experiences you have related to customer service, events management, teaching or tutoring, media and communications, creative work, academic skills support, research assistance, student advocacy, and activism will be extremely helpful for work in libraries.

I also highly recommend connecting with ALGA – I am a bit biased but think it would be an excellent gaytway to the field and a good opportunity for you to see if you like doing this kind of work at the same time as connecting with queer people working in the field.

Finally, I’ve also always been a union member, but only relatively recently started to get actively involved in union organising and it’s been great and empowering, so I highly recommend it. Building solidarity and caring and fighting for workers’ rights is more important than ever in these times.

Posted in GLAM blog club, Queer, Risk | 1 Comment

Solidarity Forever

The theme for GLAM blog club this month is ‘Forever’ and, while the prompts were mostly related to preservation and there’s a lot I could write about that, I’ve taken inspiration from the song Solidarity Forever instead and thought I’d write about unionism and solidarity during this time of physical distancing and hopefully offer a little hope in the dark.

Recommended listening while you read:

This pandemic has exposed some of the worst things about the higher education sector – particularly increasing casualisation and marketisation (not to mention the extremely high Vice Chancellor salaries)- but it’s also helped me see and consolidate some of the best things about it. There’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety at the moment but one thing I’m certain about is that we need to listen to our most precarious colleagues and collectively reshape the sector. I work with academics, many of them on casual and fixed term contracts, and students across disciplines and I’ve seen the different ways academics from legal studies, criminology, history, gender, sexuality and diversity studies, creative arts, literary studies and beyond have been responding to COVID-19 and helping their students contend with the current and future implications of this crisis on their studies, lives, and careers.

I know how essential casualised workers are to the higher education sector, how hard they work, and I’ve heard from students who have said they would probably not still be enrolled if not for the support received from these workers. I have been listening to and working with many of these casualised workers and they have been saying that the Job Protection Framework deal between universities and the NTEU National executive, which is now no longer national, will not help them or many (if any) of us and kind of sells us out.

If you work in the sector, I recommend listening to this conversation about university workers, precarity and unionising, lessons from history on past deals between employers and union leadership that have excluded their most marginalised workers, and utopian ideas for the future of the sector: Uprise Radio – Episode 18 – Universities, Unions and Utopia.

I also recommend reading this response to the Jobs Protection Framework from the National Higher Education Casuals Network , this piece from the UNSW casuals network, and following the National Higher Education Casuals Network @NHECasuals.

For more lessons from history, The false promise of a national universities deal by Elizabeth Humphrys and Amy Thomas explores past deals between employers and union leadership (including very recent past) that haven’t worked out so well for workers and illustrates the power of organising in the workplace.

I’m normally more of an idealist, but this Realism for optimists: debating the university Jobs Protection Framework piece (and longer pamphlet) by Mike Beggs and Beck Pearse eloquently illustrates many of the conclusions I have come to about the framework and the power of workplace organising. I’m not completely opposed to the idea of some kind of framework and process to help keep employers accountable to their workers, but there’s sadly very little evidence that the NTEU have listened to their rank and file members, particularly their most precarious and marginalised ones, when coming up with this particular one, and in fact there’s evidence that they’re ignoring and silencing us. There appears to be a slight chance that the framework in its current form might help protect jobs and the the status quo in the short term, and therefore protect those in the sector who are most privileged and have benefited from the status quo. I’m not convinced that it will even help them very much, particularly in the long term, and want to help change the system.

During this crisis, I have had more discussions with colleagues about solidarity and collective care and wellbeing being more important than productivity and efficiency, and I’ve probably been part of more critical and collective reflective practice and acion than ever before in the sector, which gives me much hope. I have always strived to facilitate collective and critical reflective practice and support wellbeing in the workplace in various ways, partly inspired by excellent bosses and mentors in higher education sector like Jack Keating and Leesa Wheelahan who have done so too, and I’m pleased that more of these conversations and practices are happening now even while when we can’t meet and connect in the same physical space. I’ve also been looking at feminist, queer, decolonial, and slow theories and practices to explore how we can work towards creating more collective, cooperative, caring, thoughtful and reflective universities rather than the increasingly competitive and corporate ones that have led to the situation we’re in now.

I believe that library workers and our spaces have the potential to play a huge role in connecting academics and students with each other and knowledge across disciplinary and methodological divides and helping them collectively reflect and create and share new knowledges with communities, but we have many of our own silos, hierarchies, and biases to work through to ensure we do so without perpetuating discrimination and inequalities – some of them illustrated by Alissa in this excellent post on the martyr complex in our sector:

“Honestly, when all this is over, I don’t want to go back to normal. Normal was boring. Normal was unjust. Normal was killing me softly. Now is our big chance—our free space—to design a new normal, both within and beyond librarianship. Now is the perfect opportunity to deeply consider why we do things (not just the what and the how). Now is the time to imagine what kind of world we want to live in. The first step towards great change is believing that such change is possible.”

Extract from Alissa’s post on The Martyr Complex

Shortly before the pandemic hit and we started working from home, I attended NTEU delegates training and started working with some excellent fellow delegates in the library and across the university to help improve conditions for workers. Since the pandemic, many of us along with a large number of other members (including many library colleagues, have become very angry at NTEU leadership, but we’re building something great together as illustrated in this powerful and moving speech by a library unionist comrade:

“Long, intense story short, this all came to a head when an entire branch meeting was actively suppressed on Zoom like a Black Mirror techno-dystopian episode and it was transformed into yet another one-way lecture to hard sell the Framework to us. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and triggered the entire branch into an explosive state of fury which decisively turned the tide for us. This upheaval opened the door to us organising an unprecedented mass rank-and-file meeting, which we chaired thoroughly democratically in a way that we were previously denied and built the basis for our victory today.

The achievements of our La Trobe NTEU Fightback group shows that from little things, big things grow. From humble beginnings with two or three of us, we became five, ten, then twenty determined and active campaigners.

Now our group is expanding every day and we’ve effectively formed a new rank and file caucus in our branch. It has taught me that even in desperate, defensive situations you can start building something new and breaking with the past, however difficult that past may be …

This kind of organised collective action and mutual trust is literally what unionism is. We ARE the union. The only question is how organised and active we are.”

An extract from the speech of the week shared on NTEU Fightback – No concessions page

I think becoming a delegate and working with these colleagues might be one of the most empowering things I’ve done in my work life so far and we have fun working together too with a messenger chat dedicated to sharing pictures of companion animals, puns about animals and unionism, and friendly reminders to rest and take care of ourselves (and I look forward to having a beer with them when we can safely do so):

Cheers to the Dazzling Unionists Caring for Knowledge workers (DUCKs) against cuts, Casuals and Allies Together in Strength (CATS) caucus, and Librarians Leading Activists in Marvelous Anti-Capitalism (LLAMAs).

“They have taken untold millions
That they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle
Not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power
Gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong

Solidarity forever
Solidarity forever
Solidarity forever
For the union makes us strong”

From the song “Solidarity Forever” written by Ralph Chaplin (1915)

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Queerying performance and pedagogy, going feral, and introducing Reid Marginalia

I read and thought quite a lot about librarianship, particularly the teaching aspects, as a performance last year, and started the year by going to circus 101 performance workshops which included drag, and participating in feral queer camp at Midsumma. As  semester 1 approaches, I am thinking about lessons I’ve learned from performance to apply to teaching, and taking them outside the academy (or going feral). I am writing this while sick and watching Mardi Gras and was delighted to hear someone being interviewed say they were a “teacher librarian by day”!

The article on performance and librarianship that has resonated the most is Unpacking and overcoming “edutainment” in library instruction by by Sarah Polkinghorne as I am similarly quite critical of edutainment in the context of the marketisation of education, and some of the alternative lessons from performance resonated with the lessons from the performance workshop and feral queer camp. Polkinghorne illustrates that many of us feel like we are performing when we are teaching, and reflects on aspects of performance that can help librarians create more engaging learning experiences while resisting edutainment. One of those aspects was physicality and this was the main focus of the performance skills workshop I did to help us become aware of and comfortable with our own bodies and voices and I really think it is going to help with my performance/teaching in the library classroom and move beyond “solely cognitivist instructional strategies” and do less over-preparing  like Polkinghorne suggests it can.

Physicality is a broad term encompassing the ways in which we communicate with our bodies, through our postures and movements, expressions and gestures… Our presence in the classroom is embodied. Even webinars are embodied, because we use our voices to deliver them. Comfort with our embodied presence is as fundamental to effective face-to-face teaching as it is to any performance.”

Improv was another aspect Polkinghorne suggests we can learn from, particularly for responding to questions in classes, and as I’ve become more confident and experienced this has started to become one of my favourite aspects of teaching. Polkinghorne’s advice is Don’t block, say yes. Make a choice, don’t wimp. Listen.

Possibly the idea that resonated the most with me has been using scores rather than scripts. We use scripts a lot to assist with teaching across campuses and I struggle to follow scripts I haven’t written as it does tend to increase my anxiety, and when I do write a script and bring it with me for comfort and security, I’ve found I increasingly rarely look at it. I am keen to work on developing scores for colleagues to use across campuses as well as scripts to help them tailor the scripts to local student needs and to their teaching style.

“Have you ever enjoyed seeing different actors play the same role? If performances were interchangeable because they use the same script, why would we bother making new ones? We could just watch Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and call it a day. The answer is that a script is a fraction of a performance. Actors, within the context of a production, contribute the rest.

Non-acting performers are in the same situation: even where there is a script, it could never be the totality of the performance, or enforce “consistency” across performances. Engagement problems arise when the script is prioritized and the performer is overlooked…

In creating a teaching score, you can predetermine your goals and intentions, while also identifying how students will contribute important choices. For example, they might choose areas of emphasis and the order of the discussion. In this way, students are acknowledged as co-creators of each instruction session. This can help to create an environment where more engagement becomes possible.”

Polkinghorne’s final lesson was inspired by Goffman (one of my favourite theorists from my undergrad days) is in ‘defining the situation’ and I’ve started to introduce who I am more (my positionality) and admired other teachers who do this as well as talking about why we’re here, and what the library is and can do for students:

“Unlike teachers and professors, who have ongoing interactions with students within institutional settings and power relationships that are familiar to all involved, librarians are often asked to just show up to class. We often have no pre-existing relationship with the group of students whom we’ve been tasked to teach. It’s our responsibility to define that situation. Doing so can help to acknowledge and to address the fact that students, teaching faculty, and librarians often have diverse ideas about libraries and about what we teach. Here are some things that I regularly choose whether or not and how to define for students in my instruction sessions:

  • what the purpose of my presence is,
  • who I am,
  • what I do for students,
  • what the library is, and
  • what the library can do for students,

If we’re reflecting honestly on how to convey this information and bring everyone in the classroom into shared common understanding, we will encounter the tension that exists between honesty and idealisation. This is what Goffman, generally put, called “back stage” and “front stage” personae.

A lecturer I’ve been working with over the first month recently mentioned that they are aware that much library work is invisible and that they were very keen to really clearly acknowledge my labour this semester and make it visible to students and we’ve been discussing ideas for guest performances – bringing the back stage to the front stage.

Some of my favourite parts of feral queer camp perhaps not surprisingly involved the ACT UP teach in and ACT UP in conversation events at Hares and Hyenas where we learnt about and discussed the powerful ways ACT UP used street performance as a protest to raise awareness about the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS and discrimination against queer communities. Performance is emotive and can help make experiences, knowledges, theories and information accessible to broader communities, outside academic institutions and help people understand experiences different from one’s own lived experiences.

When discussing queer performances with fellow campers, Gender Euphoria came up as an incredible joyful example and needs it’s own blog post (that I’ve been trying to write for a while). I also want to give a shout out to colleagues in the UK using performance as pedagogy for queerying the museum – particularly through tours (see blog posts on Reading/making the margins and queerying GLAM spaces and Queering collections: Lessons from Leprechauns, Liverpool and London for a little more). I love the way queer communities have historically and continue to use humour – there are so many puns like my favourite bifocal one:


Speaking of which, I have also come up with a new drag name: Reid Marginalia as Marginalia sounds more GLAM (and glam) than Moore & I love marginalia as a way to connect with a text and its community of readers. I feel this is more on brand for me than simply getting people to read more (although I’m quite good at that). I am slightly regretting not having given my talk on queerying classification earlier this month at Melbourne Free Uni as Reid Marginalia, but there may be more opportunities for that! It felt like my talk at Melbourne Free Uni was my first attempt at going feral” post feral queer camp and I am keen to do more like it.

Inspired by all of the above, although with a little less time to prepare than I would have liked, I am organising a cardiParty on queerying the GLAM sector next month (on Friday the 13th) and queerying the cardiParty format a little bit using ‘teach in’ techniques (registration will open very soon).

I am inviting everyone to contribute resources, questions and ideas for action to this Google Doc before, during and after the event, so please do so.

I’ve been struggling to write a response to the KINQ manifesto since it launched and think I’m going to try to queery that too and perform a response as Reid Marginalia (similar to the way Foxxy ‘99’ Peel (Craig) and Maxwell ‘the Saint’ Steed-Powers (Nikki) launched KINQ as agents of KINQ) so watch this space!

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Transgender Warriors: or An Annotated Bibliography of the Inside of My Head

I saw this post by Alex Bayley and realised this whole blog has become a little like an Annotated Bibliography of the Inside of My Head. I thought I would share some books I love and have mentioned one or several times on here before, but also include a few I haven’t yet mentioned. So many of these books are ones I literally carried with me for quite a while after I had finished them so that I could bring it out in conversations, so I guess I am kind of a walking bibliography. There is also some overlap with this Transgender Warriors trans masc summer reading list. 

Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance

by Michelle Dicinoski

This text was my gaytway to Australian queer history. I was reading a lot of memoirs around the time I first read it and loved the way Dicinoski weaved memoir, local and family histories, and queer histories together. I am pretty sure they were read as lesbians by the author, but I found trans possibilities in Bill Edwards (“The Boy Barmaid“) and Edward De Lacy Evans in this book. It was also one of the first times I read something that got me hooked on history as I had been pretty disengaged from history education thanks to school… and perhaps even the first time I experienced a kind of Archive Fever…. I did start studying Information Management to become a librarian or archivist shortly after reading it.


Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg

I’ve already written about where Confessions of the Fox has taken me this year but had to include it again as I really haven’t been able to get it out of my head all year. It helped me discover my new favourite genre: historical metafiction. I love the idea of drawing on queer, trans, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and more theories to imagine different possibilities and create fiction. There’s a resources list at the end so you can continue the conversation the book started.


Trans like me: A journey for all of us

by cn lester

cn lester weaves together their lived experiences with legal, theoretical, media, and pop culture analyses in this collection of essays. It’s a really good, accessible book to share with friends, colleagues, and/or family members who want to better understand trans and gender diverse peoples’ experiences. Some particular highlights for me include the essay “Are Trans People Real?” which vividly and eloquently captures how this question and ideas that trans women are fake women and trans men are fake men have shaped legal, medical and community attitudes towards, understandings of, and experiences of trans and gender diverse people, and the essay “Trans Feminisms” in which lester reads Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist alongside TERF Sheila Jeffreys’ Gender Hurts. I also recommend listening to this interview with cn lester on the podcast NB.

trans like me

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

by Andrea Lawlor

Although the main character, Paul, is a bit of a jerk and as such the book isn’t always easy to read, there were many moments of this book that have stuck with me- particularly when he found someone who was able to change genders like him, and also the lists of moments when he realised he was gay and trans. I loved being immersed in 90s queer theory and culture, making zines, listening to punk and post-punk music, and walking around cities alongside Paul. You can listen to this playlist prepared by the author (who is non-binary) as you read.



Finding Nevo

by Nevo Zisin

Finding Nevo is an autobiography by Nevo Zisin who is a young transmasculine, non-binary and queer activist and writer. It was so excellent and important: beautifully written, heartbreaking, empowering and insightful. It has made me think a lot and has stayed with me since finished it a few years ago, and I’ve since seen Zisin talk in real life quite a bit, including at MPOW.  I am so grateful to them for sharing their journey: their pain, anxiety, dysphoria, communities, support, love and joy. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to find their place and a sense of community in society without conforming to the boxes it tries to put us in. I feel like I’ve only quite recently begun to do this and feel comfortable in my own non-conforming skin and, honestly, I am in awe of Zisin. I loved that they dedicated this book to LGBTIQA+ community elders to acknowledge past struggles, victories and leaders, and that they provided a list of queer and feminists writers, activists and performers who have inspired them for readers to follow up on and continue the journey. They’ve presented at lots of local libraries too.


Stone butch blues

by Leslie Feinberg

It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but this book is very moving and powerful and definitely stayed with me and I think I’ll revisit it soon, particularly after reading Confessions of the Fox as I feel both had similar political influences using very different time periods and settings. Feinberg was a self-described “revolutionary communist” – a political activist, specifically a Marxist, union organizer, and member of the Workers World Party, and this definitely shaped the book. It is very dark with lots of homophobia, transphobia, classism and anti-Semitism faced by the protagonist, but it vividly illustrates the power of political activism, love, and gender exploration and transformation.

stone butch blues

There are many more books I haven’t listed, including everything by Ivan Coyote, and about three books I have on the go at the moment that I think will stay with me, once I manage to finish them, so I’m sure this won’t be the last annotated bibliography of the inside of my head.

Some of those books I’m currently reading:

I don’t understand how emotions work by Fury

The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist by Ben Barres – Find out more in this Queer STEM History podcast.

We Both Laughed In Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan 1961-1991 edited by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma – Find out more in this Transgender warriors podcast summer reading list

Time is the Thing A Body Moves Through: An Essay by T Fleischmann




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GLAMorous intersections: objects, ethics, and emotions

I first learnt about object-based learning (OBL) at a CRIG Seminar workshop facilitated by librarians from the University of Melbourne in 2016 and it made me realise I had already been kind of doing it and trying to do more of it, and was great to have a concept (and keyword) to help connect me with research on the topic. Indeed pretty much the first ever class I designed from scratch at MPOW when I was fresh out of library school was almost a textbook example of OBL after getting the brief from a journalism lecturer to basically “do something fun to help students engage with physical collections”. It was such an exciting class to be part of making and I’m slowly bringing it into other classes.

Throughout 2019, I found myself having conversations about it with a lot of academics – from history, art history, English, archaeology, anatomy, legal studies and beyond – many of whom had come from the University of Melbourne where they had experimented with OBL. I decided to seize the day and organise our last lunch time journal club of 2019 on the topic and invite those academics I’d been talking to about it along with colleagues from our university’s records and archives services and art institute – who had been doing some OBL-related work that I’d followed from a far and discovered that they were keen to do more in this space. Shortly after I’d sent out invitations, one of the academics ran into the inaugural coordinator of OBL at the University of Melbourne, mentioned it to them, and put us in touch with each other, so it was shaping up to be a pretty exciting journal club (and more GLAMorous than ever)…. and I was excited to bring people who I’d been talking about with this separately for the past year in one place and introduce them to each other and the discussion we had (with over 20 people) was pretty great. I wish we’d had more than hour as it felt like we were just getting started, but I’m sure the conversation will continue… in the anatomy lab and beyond!


A few objects from the library collection at MPOW

The readings (never essential/required for journal club participation) and discussion intersected nicely, and sometimes unexpectedly, with a lot of different disciplines, GLAM sector workers, and theories and concepts that I and others had been thinking about (like phenomenology, pedagogy, deep and student-centred learning, critical reflection, materiality, and particularly ethics and care in collection management, teaching, research and more), so I thought I’d sneak in a quick GLAM blog club post on the theme of Intersections this month. Like me, it seems many people in the room didn’t know they were already doing and/or trying to do OBL before they’d heard the word, so perhaps you’ve been doing it and/or thinking about it too.

Some of the readings and resources I shared beforehand that you may like to explore as an introduction to OBL include:

Arts West Object Based Learning Lab:

More videos:

Teaching Objects at the University of Melbourne:

Teaching Object-based learning at UCL :

Creative Approaches to Information Literacy for Creative Arts Students:

How inclusive is object-based learning?

Object Lessons: Inter- and Extra-Disciplinary Teaching in the History of Emotions

Drifting through Research: How the Bibliodérive Inspired New Approaches to Information Literacy at Flaxman Library:

The following readings related to GLAM work, radical empathy, and vicarious trauma really resonated with me during and after the discussion as we ended up talking a lot about the emotions connected to objects and how OBL can potentially be used to help people feel more comfortable, but can also be confronting for some (especially since some of the examples we heard about were from anatomy and legal studies), so I thought I would share them too:

Do no harm – a proposal for a harm minimisation approach to library work – partly inspired by a podcast episode about the Incendium Radical Library (IRL)

Hospitals, libraries, PTSD and the importance of being trauma-informed  – Nikki Anderson

cardiCast interview with Michaela Hart on vicarious trauma in archives (and more!)

Presentation on Addressing Separation Loss & Trauma: Emotional Labour and Archival Practice by Michaela Hart & Nicola Laurent. With Cate O’Neil… and some writing on the topic by Nicola and Michaela for those who prefer working with text-based documents.

Radical empathy in archival practice community resources – includes a zine on the topic.

Archivists against history repeating itself collective and readings

I’ve just started reading What’s the Use? On the Uses of Use by Sara Ahmed and it is great and seems very much connected to object-based learning and many of these themes too. You can check out Queer Use – a presentation by Sara Ahmed – similar to the one I was lucky enough to see at the University of Melbourne last year – to give you a taste of the book.

I was also reminded of this piece on Intersubjectivity and ghostly library labour (which I think I have shared previously):

“Library workers at all levels, but especially those who have institutional power, must care for one another and prioritize community wellbeing. Individual actions will not solve structural problems, but they can improve people’s immediate material conditions: that’s something to start with.

Haunting is a complex and rich lens through which we can explore what it might be like to be fearless, or to harness fear in a way that is creatively powerful. If we think like ghosts, we can experience time creatively and less urgently, better positioning ourselves to resist the demands of neoliberalism; to imagine and enact positive futurities.” (Settoducato 2019)

It’s also very relevant to the newly launched Queer Objects book and Nikki Sullivan and Craig Middleton’s Queering the Museum project in South Australia (they’re keen for people to write responses to the objects), but that’s for another blog post.


The Queering the Archives Archive Fever podcast recording with Yves Rees, Clare Wright, Julie Peters and Noah Riseman on Thursday night quite vividly illustrated and affirmed the complex emotional power of objects for me as I teared up just hearing about self-described ‘accidental archivist’ Julie Peters’ personal archive. Noah also mentioned that Julie Peters is not the only trans Australian who has been developing an archive and gave a shout out to a few trans librarians and archivists he interviewed who are working against the grain in mainstream institutions to queery their collections and facilitate access to trans and queer histories.

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A GLAMorous look at Midsumma 2020

The Midsumma program has been released which means it’s time for my apparently annual round up of GLAMorous, mostly introvert friendly events… It was also an opportunity for me to use my first 2020 related vision pun… I’m sure there will be more!

Amazine adventures in remaking history

Prahran Mechanic’s Institute Library and ALGA

You can probably tell who helped come up with this idea, particularly the title! I had just returned from Berlin when a request for someone from ALGA to give a talk on queer history in Victoria arrived and was feeling a little experimental so thought I would propose some more participatory alternatives and the result is zine making!

When: Thu 30 Jan 7pm

Where: Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Victorian History Library

39 St Edmonds Rd, Prahran

Find out more:

Can’t make it or feeling super keen and want more queer zines? there’s another queer zine event on the other side pf the river organised by my friend Ed at my favourite queer bookstore, Hares and Hyenas.

Creating Community in Melbourne’s West

Exhibition presented by Hobsons Bay Libraries and ALGA

Having grown up with queer communities in Melbourne’s west since my dad came out and spent hours in Williamstown library growing up too, this exhibition is pretty close to my heart.

If you would like to contribute stories and/or other material, get in touch!

When: 8 Jan-24 Feb | Sun 2-5pm | Mon-Thu 9:30am-8pm | Fri 9:30am-6pm | Sat 10am-1pm

Where: Williamstown Library

104 Ferguson St, Williamstown

Find out more:

Living out loud: A personal account of LGBTIQA+ history

Presented by Hobsons Bay Libraries

Come along and hear some stories from ALGA’s Graham Willett!

When: Wed 5 Feb 6:30pm

Where: Williamstown Library

104 Ferguson St, Williamstown

Find out more:

STATEMENT and (an) archive of yearning

Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West

Speaking of Melbourne’s west, I remember enjoying exploring this museum as a kid, and am very keen to check out this exhibition especially as it features work from Susan Long, librarian/archivist by day and visual artist by night who wrote this piece on Speculating upon the archive: woman+pants=key search for a previous Midsumma event at the State Library of Victoria.

When:  8-9 Feb | Sat, Sun 12-5pm


Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West

Visitor Centre, Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong

Find out  more:

What remains by Laura Rouhan

Sunshine Art Spaces Gallery

Another cool and nerdy event in Melbourne’s west!  This one is connected to exploring spaces which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

When: 19 Jan-9 Feb | Mon-Sun 9am-5pm

Where: Sunshine Art Spaces Gallery

2 City Pl, Sunshine

Find out more:

Culture x Gender

Presented by Teddy Darling in partnership with Yarra Libraries and Minus18

I’ve been to a few events hosted by Teddy Darling this year and they’ve been great, and I’m sure this conversation with Margot Fink, Kira Djnalie, Dr Muhammed Taha, Raina Peterson, and Milo Milton-Moon will be too.

When: Tue 4 Feb 6:30pm

Where: Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library

182/186 St George’s Rd, North Fitzroy

Find out more:

Trans and gender diverse: Questions and Answers

Presented by Library at the Dock

A discussion in a library with some of my favourite trans writers Nevo Zisin and Oliver Reeson as well as Michelle McNamara and Karyn Walker!

When: Thu 23 Jan 6pm

Where: Library at The Dock

107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands

Find out more:

Dark Sepia by Tama Sharman

Incinerator Gallery

My local Rainbow Valley Incinerator Gallery has been pretty great at supporting Midsumma and LGBTIQ+ artists (and pretty much leading the way at council) over the last few years, so I’ll definitely be checking out this exhibition of drawing, recycling and printmaking (a few of my favourite things).

When: 21 Jan – 22 Mar | closed 26 Jan | Tue-Sun 11am-4pm

Where: Incinerator Gallery

180 Holmes Rd, Aberfeldie

Find out more:

Let’s Eat Cake by Maylei Hunt

Presented by Melton City Library

When: 14 Dec-21 Feb, 23 Feb | Sat 10am-4pm | Sun 1-4pm | Mon-Thu 8:30am-8pm | Fri 8:30am-4:30pm

Melton Library and Learning Hub

31 McKenzie St, Melton

Find out more:

Out is Out: Elders, olders and young queer mob in dialogue about freedom, self and expression

Wyndham Art Gallery

Inter-generational LGBTIQ First Nations knowledge sharing and art and history making!

When: 6 Feb-8 Mar | Mon-Fri 9am-5pm | Sat, Sun 11am-4pm

Where: Wyndham Art Gallery

177 Watton St, Werribee

Find out more:

The Campaign and The Campaign in Progress

Presented by Gavin Roach at Gasworks Arts Park

I absolutely love the idea of a play about queer law reform history and an visual exhibition to complement this display! Hope to see more of this kind of thing and help facilitate it. Something tells me Mama Alto and Sue Mckemmish would approve too.

The Campaign (play)

The Campaign in Progress exhibition:

Boys Night Out: Work in Progress Showing

Abbotsford Convent

Exploring class, gender, sexuality , race and different narrative  styles in Australian history at Abbotsford Convent- a site of complex social history! This looks great.

When: 30 Jan-1 Feb | Thu-Sat 8pm


Abbotsford Convent – Dorm One

1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Find out more:

Nevo Zisin: Desert Island Reads

Presented by Whitehorse Manningham Libraries

I love Nevo Zisin’s work and love that they have made quite a few appearances at libraries around  Victoria and beyond in recent times. I’m sure this will be a great session, particularly if it’s anything like the reading list at the end of their memoir. I’m sad it clashes with the PMI Library event.

When: Thu 30 Jan 7pm

Doncaster Library

687 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster

Find out more:

Documentary screening: Becoming Colleen

Presented by Darebin Libraries

When: Thu 23 Jan 7pm

Where: Preston Library

266 Gower St, Preston

Find out more:

Pacific Essence: Tales of a Migrant Plantation

Presented by Midsumma Festival and Immigration Museum

with Samoan fa’afafine/trans advocate Amao Leota Lu and friends.

The Immigration Museum have been doing some great work in recent years and I’ve seen and heard Amao Leota Lu quite a bit, so am looking forward to this event.

When: Thu 23 Jan 6-8:30pm


Immigration Museum

400 Flinders St, Melbourne CBD

Find out more:

Rainbow Effect with Rainbow Chan

Presented by Midsumma Festival and Immigration Museum

A queer museum event after dark? I’m keen!


Fri 31 Jan 6 – 10pm

Find out more:

Nocturnal x Midsumma: Lunar New Year Disco

Presented by Midsumma and Melbourne Museum

Another queer museum event after dark with costumes? I’m in!

When: Fri 7 Feb 7-11pm


Melbourne Museum

11 Nicholson St, Carlton

Find out more:

Kira Puru at Heidi

Heidi Museum of Modern Art

I’m so glad Heidi have started hosting Midsumma events. There’s lots of (admittedly messy) queer history potential there – featuring apparently controversial and enigmatic bisexual librarian, Barrett Reid! 2019’s event was pretty quiet and wholesome and I will be curious to see if this one is a bit more daring, but also kind of love a good wholesome queer party, so won’t be devastated if it isn’t daring…

When: Sun 9 Feb 6pm

Where: Heide Museum of Modern Art

7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen

Find out more:

Fabulous Fitzroy on foot

ALGA’s queer history walk is going to Fitzroy this year! Come and join us.

When: Sat 25 Jan 11am

Where: Starting at the Royal Exhibition Building Kangaroo Statue, 58 Nicholson St, Fitzroy

Find out more:

Feral Queer Camp

This appears to be very GLAM adjacent and very much aligned to my interests in facilitating access to queer knowledge, theories and research to the masses in creative ways and emerging interests in supporting (and eventually doing) practice-led research and in archiving creative works and creative processes. You can register your interest here

Future histories at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space looks similarly excellent and GLAM adjacent too.

There is some good intersectional LGBTIQ+ representation so this may count as my contribution to GLAM blog club this month.



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Questions to consider when planning a party/referencing and navigating citational politics

As alluded to in previous blog posts and on twitter recently, I’ve been introducing citational politics into classes this year and, in the spirit of the GLAM blog club theme Questions, I thought I would share some questions I have been encouraging students to ask when engaging with citation to get them to think about who and why they are referencing not just how to reference.

In the most recent iteration of the class, the lecturer and I were inspired by the end of semester and one of the author of one of texts students were studying who claims to write books like she is hosting a party to host a referencing party in the final week of semester on narrative endings and afterlives, and referencing & citation as a party.


To get the party started, I mentioned the research journey that the footnotes and resources list in Confessions of the Fox has taken me on all year and the way it has helped me stay connected to the narrative. As mentioned earlier this month, It inspired me to research collective narratives, storytelling, biographies, memoirs and memory making, collective research, reading and writing practices, counternarrative, and delve back into postcolonial, critical race, queer and gender theories. It made me think and read about scholarly reading and writing as a collective exercise – or very nerdy party even! It was very relevant to the themes of the subject and Footnotes were used as a narrative device, so it was a particularly apt place to begin.





I came across the following Burkean parlour metaphor for scholarly conversation in Wallis’ (2016) “Mapping Power and Privilege in Scholarly Conversations” and thought I would also use it might also set the scene for a scholarly party, ask students how they would feel if they were attending a party like this, and provide some party tricks and questions to ask for unlocking, contributing to and navigating the conversation:

“Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.”

Burke, K, 1974, The philosophy of literary form: studies in symbolic action, 3rd ed., University of California Press, Berkeley.

The scholarly party tricks included:

  • —Subject lecture notes, prescribed text, and weekly readings – the perfect starting point or gateway to unlocking the conversation
  • —Footnotes, Bibliographies and Reference lists from the prescribed text and weekly readings to find out who is being cited – we noticed a few (popular!) people were cited multiple times (special guests that lecturers probably expect you to invite to the party perhaps!)
  • —Forward citation chaining using Google Scholar to find more recent references, bring the research and analysis into the present, and begin to get an idea of how significant a source is in the field in terms of theoretical discussion, methodology and/or subject matter/specific area of study, and begin to get an idea of who is citing this work and who is not (white men, women, People of Colour, First Nations people and so on)
  • —Scholarly clubs (or discipline specific databases) for finding peer reviewed journal articles with everyone’s favourite Boolean operators as tour guides. I also generally encourage students from all disciplines to branch out and explore Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies databases if they need to find more diverse perspectives.
  • The university’s Academic Referencing Tool

As every party has politics, I introduced some questions for students to ask in order to navigate these politics and include more diverse voices.

The questions were adapted from Netolicky (2018)’s questions:

“Previously I considered things like how recent my references were, or what kinds of texts they covered. I now ask some different questions of my reference list:

  • How does this list situate my work in the field? With what kind of scholarship am I aligning my work?
  • From what nations, cultures and classes do my references come? To what extent do they represent Euro- or Anglo- centric ways of knowing and being?
  • What is the gender mix of my reference list?
  • Whose voices are silent? Whose scholarship have I ignored or excluded?”

Netolicky, DM 2018, ‘Reference lists as sites of diversity? Citations matter’, the édu flâneuse, blog post, 11 July, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Ultimately, I hoped they would ask “Are there people who should be invited into the conversation as they get talked/written about quite a lot but are not actually included in the conversation enough?” and then listen to/read and invite them.

Sometimes I worry that some academics will mark students down if they don’t engage with and cite the popular people/people who always get cited and cite less well established, more marginalised folks, so it can be a bit tricky to navigate and has taken a while for me to be confident enough to so strongly question (and encourage others to question) who is and who is not getting cited. Having said that I worry about this, all of the academics I’ve spoken to about introducing citational politics into classes have responded pretty well, so perhaps the fear is unfounded.

I also loved this idea and thread from @kellymce and encouraged the lecturer and tutors to think about trying it in tutorials, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to be part of them. I look forward to giving it ago in 2020 and think using emoji would have been very popular with one of the recommended readings for the subject: Uses of Literature by Rita Felski.


I was discussing it with colleagues afterwards and we thought accidental plagiarism could be referred to as an example of party gatecrashers and getting the formatting/punctuation/italics correct could be cleaning up at the end of a party.

I also loved James Burford’s post about the literature review workshops or parties he organises which suggested some more questions to consider (and reminded me that I love finding out different strategies people use to manage references in classes):

“In our workshop, researchers shared the different systems that they use to store their literatures. Some people prefer to work with paper copies of journal articles that they can annotate and scribble over. These paper copies may be stored in categorised boxes or folders. Others use an Excel table and arrange their literature by themes and categories. Some researchers in our workshop have piles of paper that they don’t know what to do with. Many researchers are thinking about and also re-thinking their current system of managing information.

One of the things I always do is to encourage researchers to talk to each other not only about the ‘what’ of the literature review, but also the ‘how’. I encourage researchers to talk to their supervisors, too. It can be really interesting to ask our mentors about what happens behind the scenes with their own literature synthesising practice. How do they store notes? How have they arranged literature reviews in the past? What successful models have they seen or examined? When do they draw the line and say ‘enough is enough’? Getting curious about the ‘how’ of literature reviews is often a good first step to figuring out what to do next.”

I hope we can host a citation party together some time!

The first person I remember who really got me thinking about why and who we reference (and going beyond how we reference) was my former boss, Leesa Wheelahan, a fabulous feminist public intellectual. It was mostly through Jean Brick’s  Academic culture: A student’s guide to studying at university which she introduced to students in a graduate certificate in tertiary teaching and hoped they would pass onto their students.

Thomas Peach and Clare McCluskey-Dean recently launched I AM plify -a brilliant sounding collection development project to amplify marginalised voices and increase diversity in information sources available in the library and I feel like I might build something like this into future party planning.

One of my favourite articles on referencing is “How do you wish to be cited? Citation practices and a scholarly community of care in trans studies research articles” by K Thieme & MAS Saunders and I feel these reflections and questions are a good note to end on:

“We suggested that not only do trans studies scholars voice unique concerns related to gender and citation, they also reflect the practices of a community of care in their choices of citation. Part of these practices is to ensure that trans scholars and trans experience are cited over cisgender scholars and cisgender experience. In addition, these practices also include careful consideration of how exactly to characterize scholars who are trans, and how to vary that characterization for different audiences. In this way trans studies, as a multi-disciplinary, transnational, emerging field, seems to be developing its own community norms when it comes to relating new claims to preceding work. We wonder, though, do the norms and concerns that are evident in the above public statements also manifest themselves on the surface level of citation in the research article? Can practices of care—and the complex navigation between erasure and outing—be seen in the language used when trans scholars cite each other? If so, or if not, what lessons do these practices of citation hold for questions of gender and research writing more generally?”

Would you come to this party? Do you have any other idea for planning a citation party and/or questions to ask? Perhaps you want to apply it to apply these questions to collection development in a similar way to Thomas and Clare have done? Get in touch!

Bibliography: or people who’ve helped me plan this party so far

(there are some familiar names who I cite quite a lot on this blog)

Ahmed, S 2017, Living a Feminist Life, Duke University Press, North Carolina.

Ahmed, S 2013, Making Feminist Points, Feminist Killjoys, 11 September, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Brick, J 2016, Academic culture: A student’s guide to studying at university, Macmillan Education Australia, South Yarra.

Burford, J 2019, ‘What is a literature review? Imaginings and re-imaginings’, The RED Alert, October 3, viewed October 20 2019, <;.

Burke, K, 1974, The philosophy of literary form: studies in symbolic action, 3rd ed., University of California Press, Berkeley.

Griffiths, T 2009, ‘History and the Creative Imagination’, History Australia, vol.6, no.3, pp.74.1-74.16.

@kellymce 2019, I asked my students to invent…, Twitter, 3 October, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Hartman, SV 1997, Scenes of subjection: terror, slavery, and self-making in nineteenth-century America, Oxford University Press, New York.

McCluskey-Dean, Clare 2018, ‘Year 2 BA(Hons) Primary Education – evaluating and referencing sources’, Information in the curriculum, May 9, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

McCluskey-Dean, Clare 2018, ‘How reading list design is influenced by power structures – input for level 6 Participation and Voice module’, Information in the curriculum, November 8, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

McGregor, H 2019, ‘Episode 3.21 Citing Your Sources’, Secret Feminist Agenda, podcast,
15 March, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Nelson, M 2017, ‘Maggie Nelson Writes Books Like She’s Hosting a Party’, Interview by Lange, M for The Cut, 31 March, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Netolicky, DM 2018, ‘Reference lists as sites of diversity? Citations matter’, the édu flâneuse, blog post, 11 July, viewed 20 October 2019, <;.

Rosenberg, J 2018, Confessions of the Fox, Atlantic Books, London.

Thieme, K & Saunders, MAS 2018, ‘How do you wish to be cited? Citation practices and a scholarly community of care in trans studies research articles’, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, vol.32, pp.80-90.

Wallis, Lauren 2016, “Mapping Power and Privilege in Scholarly Conversations” in Critical Pedagogy Handbook, vol. 2. ACRL: Chicago, IL.

Zahora, T & Yazbeck, B 2018, “”Is Plagiarism a learned sin?” Textuality, meaning-making and the rules of the academic game”, in AW Ata, LT Tran & I Liyanage (Eds.), Educational Reciprocity and Adaptivity: International students and stakeholders, UK, Routledge.

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Confessions of the Fox and collective reading, research and reflection

I first came across Confessions of the Fox in this interview/review by Justine Hyde in April –  I was hooked by this quote from the interview/review and had a copy of the book within 24 hours of reading it:

“There are many things missing from archives but sometimes even what is there can obscure more than it reveals.” Although it wasn’t his intention to write a transgender novel, Rosenberg suggests that fiction – and speculative fiction in particular – is a necessary counterbalance to fill the gap left by historical archiving practices. He quotes Jacques Derrida and Anjali Arondekar, who both illuminate the problem of mistaking archival materials for historical realities.”

It reminded me quite a bit of this Archer magazine article by Archie Barry which I love and might have shared once or twice before and will do so again.

“It seems I’ve now naturally fallen into a role that many queer and gender-­diverse people fall into: that of informal researcher. We silently horde content – URLs, zines, ads, pamphlets, stickers, mp3s, books, posters – to build a personalised buffer, a kind of archive armour, between the self and the ­cis-hetero world.

Our ability to construct this type of armour is improving, as a number of new initiatives in archiving transgender histories emerge.”

Confessions of the Fox is a great example of the archive armour Archie describes and I’ve been thinking for a while that I would love to facilitate research skills classes for queer and gender diverse folks – in collaboration with MPOW and ALGA – to help them become  informal researchers and build their own archival armour.


I started writing this for the GLAM blog club theme ‘Secrets’ as thought it might be a good chance to share a little about Confessions of the Fox and where it and its extensive resources list at the end have taken me on this year. It was the queer, trans, anti-racist and anti-imperialist piece of historical metafiction of my dreams. I recently finished Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson and was not for the first time struck and disappointed by a cisgender author’s apparent obsession with and objectification of trans peoples genitalia (see also some reflections on Walkaway), and the care the Rosenberg (and the character in the footnotes) took to avoid doing this as well as to avoid deadnaming characters was amazing. I don’t want to reveal too much so as to spoil it but hopefully I’ll reveal enough to make everyone go out and by it. I am really keen to start a reading group to collectively read, discuss and respond to it (and the resources list) as I feel this would be in the spirit of the book, so if you have read it or do read it and are keen, please get in touch!


One of the books mentioned was Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America by Saidiya V. Hartman and it led to a scene in the book which captured my library activist imagination deeply. I ordered it for the collection at MPOW and haven’t finished it yet because it is not surprisingly very intense, but what I have read has influenced my information and archival literacy teaching in a subject on histories of slavery and human trafficking. Over the past few years, I’ve adapted this class quite a bit to help students find community archives and primary sources created by survivors or people who have experienced slavery, including creative works, and to encourage them to go beyond government records and critically engage with what government records reveal and question what they obscure. I was more confident doing so this year after these and related readings. I also introduced students to some ways to trace politics of citation and encouraging them to critically evaluate and question who is being cited on particular topics (and try to not just cite old white men).

Another scene from Confessions that spoke to me involved a re-imagining (and renaming) of archives as:

“…stretches of time, but also stretches of space. And they don’t just mean space as a place; they mean space as a practice: the way we make space in our own bodies. To them, I think, this is history: breathing air into a previously unfelt opening… ” (Rosenberg 2018, p.267).

Confessions of the Fox, Scenes of Subjection and Archie Barry’s article made me keen to explore ways to encourage collective reading and engagement with texts and partly led to starting an initiative to gather reading recommendations from MPOW’s community and share them in bookmarks throughout the library and on social media. Gathering recommendations and momentum is taking a while for various reasons, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to get it off the ground eventually and I have a smaller scale version of this in the works too – involving connecting past and present alumni.

I’ve also been slowly experimenting with LibGuides to make them a bit more participatory and challenge the meaning of ‘expert’ by creating Padlets and crowdsourcing recommendations, resources, experiences, and tips rather than claim or attempt to be an ‘expert’ on everything and acknowledge and capture lived expertise. Please share resources and tips at the link above.

The Reading/Making room I wrote about earlier was an example of facilitating collective reading and collective, critical and creative responses to reading. Quinn Eades and I will be adapting this in a breakout session for this year’s CRIG seminar to encourage academic librarians from around Victoria to critically, creatively and collectively reflect and create spaces to do so in their libraries. Come along if you’re in an academic library in Victoria!

I’ve started building on all of this by exploring collective biography as a genre and historical research methodology, duo-ethnography, currere, and other collaborative research methodologies.

I’ve recently met an academic who studies affective histories of books (possibly my new favourite research area) amongst other things and is keen to do some things that are related to collective, affective reading. We’ve also been planning a class on referencing as a party or scholarly conversation (which like most parties I know of includes politics!) – partly influenced by one of the texts students in the class are studying (The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson), and chatting about “meeting (and sometimes drinking with) your bibliography” at conferences. Our conversations and planning reminded me of this post on literature review imaginings and re-imaginings by James Burford. I love getting students, usually in honours classes, to share their systems for storing and organising research/literatures with each other in a similar way to how Burford describes in the aforementioned post and have been delighted to discover that some people use spreadsheets and scrapbooks. Personally, I am particularly on board with the scrapbooks idea.

I have also been reminded of discovering rhizomatic learning and education, the community as curriculum, and collaborative knowledge construction in my early days of looking into ways to facilitate digital literacies development and how it was one thing that led to the creation of our library staff journal club – a space for critical and collective reflection on our profession…. I think it might be time for me to dig deeper into Deleuze and Guattari to explore the rhizome metaphor and anti-genealogy and anti-memory more.

I feel like the upcoming Next Fest – hosted by La Trobe’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences – and the Digital writers festival Digital archives and disruption session are going to be good ways to consolidate and continue a few of these readings, thoughts and conversations.

I have helped plant a seed (and invited Alex Bayley to participate in) this tweetchat on Open scholarship and activism for Open Access Week which will discuss activism for open scholarship and activism with open resources, and am hoping to see a few activist archivists, radical recordkeepers and researchers, liberatory librarians and militant museum workers get involved in the discussion, as I think this could be another way to build on these thoughts and conversations.

I have mentioned wanting to start a podcast a few times, and think the medium lends itself well to doing something connected to collective reading, research and reflection, so this could be the podcast idea that takes off. I already get to have such great conversations about reading and research with researchers, students and GLAM workers, and I think people would enjoy listening!










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A Killjoy Survival Kit for the Secret Feminist Agenda

Inspired by an episode of one of the tools in my killjoy survival kit, the Secret Feminist Agenda podcast by Hannah McGregor, and by the brilliant feminist killjoy Sara Ahmed, I thought I’d share some tools in my feminist killjoy survival kit that help me slow down and recharge and bring me strength, courage, joy and hope. It seems like a few GLAMorous folks are struggling at the moment, so maybe some of these tools will help you or if not, this post might encourage you to make your own feminist killjoy survival kit.


Not surprisingly, my survival kit includes lots of books. Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin are a few that I like to hold particularly close and revisit (and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned them before!). Some newer books that I’ve been holding close to me lately are Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor, Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg, Trans like me by cn lester and Growing Up Queer edited by Benjamin Law.



I had a really big weekend and week last week, so this long weekend, I really slowed down and pretty much just read the whole time and highly recommend it!

I also find going for coffees or tea with  fellow killjoys/friends and colleagues, as well as on my own with a notebook in hand helps me slow down, reflect, consolidate my thoughts, and recharge. A particular thank you to Michaela and Meg for our recent brunches.

I’m keen to try to make more time for writing and drawing… and perhaps even some physical strength building exercise.


Some podcasts I’ve been listening to in addition to Secret Feminist Agenda lately include:

Queer STEM History –  I have loved these relatively short episodes featuring different queer scientists from history. I have listened to the episode on Ben Barres about ten times in the past couple of weeks already and think I’ll be adding Ben Barres’ autobiography to my survival kit in the near future!

Transgender Warriors – weekly interviews with different trans and gender diverse folks – leading to lots of great book, film, music, organisation and art recommendations!

Archive Fever – A new podcast coming out of MPOW hosted by the excellent Yves Rees and Clare Wright. Check out the first episode for archival evidence of amorous librarians.

The Gayly Prophet – an intersectional, queer, feminist lens to the Harry Potter book series! this really is like the newspaper of my nerdiest dreams.


ALGA has taught me many things and one of them is how important humour has been in LGBTIQ+ and feminist histories. There are lots of examples of humour and clever puns in the archives, particularly the bisexual collection which I somehow bipassed earlier and only discovered recently! so many bi puns! There’s also often a lot of humour at our committee meetings which can make sometimes dry and dense content more lively.


I’ve written previously about puns in the workplace.


I don’t have my own pets (yet), but I have been dreaming about being adopted by a cat, and in the meantime, have other peoples’ pets in my life.


ALGA is a big part of my survival kit. Finding solidarity, community, hope and humour in the archives. It really helps to be part of and be able to retreat to an LGBTIQ+ community-led GLAM organisation.


I’ve been finding strength from sea and dinosaur themes in particular lately.

sea-themed LGBTQ ALMS outfitsdinosaurYou can find out a little more about the power of clothes and fashion in this video:

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