How do we recognise and value everyday queer heritage?
In the past five years queer heritage has become ever more visible through the work of organisations such as the National Trust. Buildings and places have had their LGBT+ histories rescued. They have been highlighted as an important part of the story, not only of each place but also as part of our wider national heritage. Many of these places are established historic sites, such as Plas Newydd, Strawberry Hill House, and Smallhythe Place. Others are less well-known, including the modernist St Ann’s Court, built for a wealthy couple on the outskirts of London in the 1930s. But Britain is full of more everyday buildings with a queer resonance.
The University of Dundee presents a lecture that will draw on the queer heritage projects that Alison Oram has been involved with. She will focus on the materiality of places and buildings – their histories and use. Buildings might be ‘queer’ if they create a tradition of queer architectural style, or because of their association with LGBT+ inhabitants or activities. How, for example, do floor plans and interior décor reflect the queer desires of their designers and occupants?
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Professor Alison Oram is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London and Professor Emerita at Leeds Beckett University. She led the team who delivered “Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage” for Historic England in 2015-16 and co-wrote the guidebook Prejudice and Pride: Celebrating LGBTQ Heritage for the National Trust’s 2017 theme in 2017.
Her most recent book on lesbian and queer history is Her Husband was a Woman! Women’s gender crossing in modern British popular culture (2007). She is currently completing a co-authored book (with Prof Matt Cook) and other publications for the AHRC-funded research project Queer Beyond London.