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Queer activism begins at home: situating LGBTQ voices in National Trust historic houses

Curran, Sean; (2019) Queer activism begins at home: situating LGBTQ voices in National Trust historic houses. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Despite a growing body of literature and practical examples of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) interventions in museums, there is a dearth of research in equivalent initiatives in historic houses, specifically in those owned and managed by the National Trust. My research aims to address that gap, by using a creative intervention in the form of an exhibition for LGBT History Month. This queered action research involved curating an intervention, using a crowd-sourced exhibition, at the National Trust’s Sutton House in Hackney, London. The exhibition and the process of curation is the primary case study in my thesis. The exhibition 126, saw 126 LGBTQ identified volunteers submitting smartphone recordings of Shakespeare’s Fair Youth Sonnets and short video portraits of themselves as contributors. These were edited into a film, and exhibited at the first ever ‘Queer Season’ at Sutton House in February and March 2015. While feedback from visitors and contributors was analysed, the video portraits formed the primary data in the thesis. The videos are presented as a means through which LGBTQ people have chosen to represent their queer identities in a National Trust property. The results are noteworthy for the diversity of ways that LGBTQ people choose to visually signify their queer identities when given autonomy to do so. Evident in the videos were performed gender identities as well as rejections of gender, parallels with ‘coming out’ video blog tropes, direct responses to the themes of invisibility and representation, and a suggestion of the radical potential of vanity, and of ‘selfies’, in historic buildings. My research concludes that queer identities, having been systematically repressed in historic houses, manifest themselves most authentically when the communities themselves are given the autonomy to represent their own queerness. The participants become stakeholders in facing the challenge of presenting LGBTQ identities to audiences unfamiliar with them, and take on a variety of roles, as cocurators, content creators and queer heritage activists.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Queer activism begins at home: situating LGBTQ voices in National Trust historic houses
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072804
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