Topic: “Herbert Tobias and the Optics of Desire”
Presented by: Jennifer Evans – History, Carleton University
Date: Nov. 3, 2011
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Room 302, Schaeffer Hall
Abstract: By analyzing a single trophy photograph by West German enfant terrible Herbert Tobias and viewing it as both a material object and performative practice, Evans suggests ways to move beyond the documentary impulse towards a methodology that captures and historicizes key and distinct elements of queer life in the era of the Sexual Revolution. At the intersection of artist intent, socio-historical context, and individual interpretation, she argues, erotic photography can answer a host of historical questions about same-sex desire and visibility, provided we are willing to embrace affect and subjectivity as serious categories of historical investigation.
Jennifer Evans is associate professor of Modern European History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She specializes in 20th century German history with a primary interest in the history of sexuality. Her book, Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) explores the rebirth of the city’s various subcultures in the aftermath of World War II. She also writes about same-sex sexuality in Nazi and post-1945 Germany and is finishing a manuscript on pink triangle victims after Hitler, which has had the support of the Berlin Program, the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum, and Canada’s Social Science Humanities Research Council. Her next two research projects are contemporary in focus. “Hate 2.0: Combatting Right-Wing Extremism in the Age of Social Technology” is a collaborative project that analyzes the role and potential of digital media in countering online hate. She is also exploring the way 1970s and 1980s queer erotic photography acted both as a practice of self-actualization and a claim to sexual freedom in the pre- Aids era.