Book Talk: Work! A Queer History of Modeling with Elspeth Brown

Thursday, January 30, 2020
7:00pm - 8:30pm
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Please join us for a book talk with Professor Elspeth Brown. This event will be introduced by Jeanne Vaccaro, postdoctoral fellow at the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. Curator Alexis Bard Johnson will provide a response following the talk before conversation opens to the audience. This event is organized in collaboration with Visual Studies Research Institute (VSRI) and the USC-LACMA History of Photography Seminar.

Brown's book, Work!: A Queer History of Modeling, traces the queer history of modeling from the rise of photographic modeling in the early 20th century to the rise of the supermodel in the early 1980s. The book charts how models have been central to the creation of a new type of sexuality in 20th century America: a commercialized form of sanitized sexuality, managed for public consumption. The book shows how the modeling industry has been shaped by queer sensibilities since its origins, and how black models-- in their very insistence on black glamour--have challenged whitestream hegemony. Work! shows how the modeling industry always has been the site of a queer structure of feeling, but one that has also always been tied to the market. In this way, Work! queers the history of capitalism.

Elspeth H. Brown is Professor of History at the University of Toronto. Her research concerns queer and trans history; the history and theory of photography; the history of US capitalism; and oral history. She is the author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling (Duke, 2019) and The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (2005). She is co-editor of Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014, with Thy Phu), "Queering Photography," a special issue of Photography and Culture (2014), and Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (Palgrave, 2006). She is the Director of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, a five-year digital history and oral history public, digital humanities collaboration. She is an active volunteer and Vice President of the Board for The ArQuives: Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives.

 

Image: George Platt Lynes, "Ruth Ford," ca. 1937.