UCL Institute of the Americas


AMER0064: The Politics of Sexual Minorities in the US from the Great Depression to the Regan Era

***NOT RUNNING IN 2022/23***


Module leader: Professor Jonathan Bell

Credits: 30

Term: tbc


This module explores the emergence and transformations of LGBT movements from the Depression years and World War Two to the devastation wrought by the HIV-AIDS crisis of the 1980s. We examine the impact of New Deal social reform and people’s experience of wartime on sexual dissidence, so-called ‘homophile’ movements of the 1950s and government efforts to suppress them, the emergence of gay liberation and its relationship to other civil rights movements, notably radical feminism, the development of a gay left in the 1970s, HIV/AIDS activism in the 1980s, trans* activism, and the relationship between sexuality and questions of race, class, and labour. Students use a rich array of primary sources materials, ranging from queer periodicals and radical pamphlets to activist memoirs, oral histories, US Supreme Court judgements, government documents, queer literature, and media sources. Students will also have the opportunity to make their own intervention in the rich historiographical literature by writing a 10,000 word dissertation. (This module can be linked to the dissertation for students writing a compulsory final year undergraduate dissertation, and will include a set of dissertation writing workshops.)

Assessment pattern

Written examination (3 hours)                        100%

NOTE: Assessment forms may change from one academic year to another. Please consult with the Teaching Administration Team