The Impact of Primary Sources on Lesbian Literature and History: The Evolution and Significance of Queer Archives

Sponsored by AM

Recorded on 11/23/2022
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 295

In the final episode of this four-part series, Rachel Friars, a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University, digs into her approach and the evolution of her work with primary sources. In addition, Rachel explains how the diaries of Anne Lister—a 19th-century lesbian diarist, traveler, and landowner—became archived and widely digitized, narrowly escaping becoming lost in history. Our guest also discusses her current work in pulp fiction and the difficulty of locating materials in this area due to their ephemeral nature, various publication methods, and prevalence of pen names. Last, Rachel closes with thoughts on why archives are so important in researching queer history. As she notes, “When you search for queer lives in the past, you’re demanding a political presence, you’re demanding a social and archival and historical presence that is extremely necessary for, as I said, the survival and connection of the past and the survival and connection of the present.”

Rachel Friars headshot. Bright yellow background. Woman with short hair, glasses, and maroon turtleneck.
Photo by Meghan Burry

About the guest:

Rachel M. Friars
Doctoral Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature
Queen’s University

Rachel M. Friars is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her current work centers on neo-Victorianism and nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history, with secondary research interests in life writing, historical fiction, true crime, and the Gothic. Her work on lesbian historical fiction has been published with Palgrave Macmillan, The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies, Lexington Books, Crime Studies JournalQueer Studies in Media and Popular Culture, and is forthcoming in The Palgrave Handbook of neo-Victorianism.

Enjoy the conversation? Listen to the rest of the series:

Check out our previous podcast series with AM, Primary Source Literacy.

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