Queering the archive : re-examining narratives of U.S. chattel slavery

Lyons, Candice Devon
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Consisting of a what I term a queer rereading of the U.S. slavery archive, this project focuses on two key concerns: one, how enslaved (and formerly enslaved) women conceived of and performed their own genders and two, how enslaved and formerly enslaved women structured their relationships to other women.

By engaging the wealth of transcripts compiled throughout the course of the Works Progress Administration Slave Narrative Project; a diverse array of primary sources culled from multiple sites; and the records, images, and (auto)biographies of more visible figures like Cathay Williams, Ellen Craft, Harriet Tubman, and “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, this work opens up space for considering the types of stories it becomes possible to tell when the archive is approached without the base assumption of cisheternormativity—complex stories of gender creativity and alternate trajectories. Impossible stories. Queer stories.