Category: News

Summersell Center Hosts Queer History Reading Group

  • October 8th, 2020
  • in News

Dust jacket cover for Charles M. Blow's Fire Shut Up in my BonesThe Summersell Center recently hosted a Queer History Reading Group for graduate students in history.

Organized by Margaret Montgomery, Isabella Garrison, and Dr. John Giggie, Summersell Director, the conversation centered on Charles Blow’s recent memoir, Fire Shut up in My Bones, in which the New York Times journalists talks about growing as a bisexual Black man in the Deep South.

The goal for the group, as put by Isabella, is to “create new spaces for graduate students to look at queer history” and think about how it can “inform their own research and teaching.”

The group will meet next again next month to look at new works in transgender scholarship.

Dr. John Giggie to Participate in David Mathews Center’s Civic Institute, August 21

  • August 18th, 2020
  • in News

Icon of the Mathews Center's logo and mission statement.The Mathews Center will host its annual Civic Institute on August 21st, 2020. The event will be held entirely online. The theme of this year’s event is Common Bonds: Collective Purpose and Civic Resilience in Uncertain Times.

Dr. David Mathews, President and C.E.O. of the Kettering Foundation, will deliver a (pre-recorded) keynote address drawing on his experiences at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare—where he served as Secretary during the Swine Flu outbreak of 1976. Mathews is an alum of The University of Alabama History Department, where he earned his AB in history in 1958. He was twice president of The University of Alabama: 1969-75 and 1977-80.

Dr. John Giggie of the University of Alabama’s Summersell Center and students from Tuscaloosa’s Central High School will discuss The History of Us, a year-long course created to help students explore the African American history of their own community. Dr. Giggie co-taught the course with his graduate teaching assistant, Ms. Margaret Lawson, who will join the panel alongside students from the course.

The Civic Institute will be hosted completely online and begins at 9 am, Friday, August 21, 2020. Registration is free and available at this link.

UA Faculty & Students Present at University of Montevallo’s Civic Institute

  • August 23rd, 2019
  • in News
Giggie and crew at the panel
Dr. John Giggie, Margaret Lawson, Isabella Garrison, Maigen Sullivan, and Dr. Hilary Green

Last week our faculty and students participated in the annual David Mathews Center for Civic Life‘s  Civic Institute in Montevallo. The panel, organized by Dr. John Giggie and titled “Geographical Imaginations: The Role of Recuperative Storytelling in Southern History and Memory,” explored the transformative potential in little-known, marginalized, and difficult pasts.

Panel participants included two UA History majors: Margaret Lawson, who discussed her work on “History of Us,” a course that trains Central High School students to become producers of history as they contend with legacies of racial violence in Alabama, and Isabella Garrison, who spoke about her work with Invisible Histories Project, which preserves and shares southern LGBTQ history. The panel also included Dr. Hilary Green of Gender and Race Studies, who focused on her work to research and implement a walking tour and digital humanities site about the history of slavery on UA’s campus, and Maigen Sullivan, a director of the Invisible Histories Project and community partner of Dr. Giggie and students.

Summersell Center Receives Grant to Develop Queer History Website

  • May 22nd, 2019
  • in News

UA GSU logo.Dr. John Giggie and the Summersell Center were recently chosen to receive a 2019 Teaching Grant from The University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences to develop Queer Alabama, the digital humanities website that came out of the course “Invisible Histories,” that was taught this spring. It will fund the work of student Isabella Garrison as she refines and expands the website this summer.

The site showcases the research done by students documenting the queer community at The University of Alabama and its greater impact on the broader community.  It will also host a new round of undergraduate research to be undertaken this fall, when students will conduct oral histories of queer civil rights leaders in HY 430: Queer History South.

Summersell Students Launch Queer Alabama Site

Summersell students explore archival collection at Birmingham Public library.Students in Director of the Summersell Center Dr. John Giggie’s Spring 2019 course Invisible Histories: Queer History South have unveiled the website for their research, Queer Alabama. The website features each of the students’ research projects, all of which analyze the queer community’s impact on The University of Alabama campus and its broader Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Southeastern contexts. Individual projects include the Cartography of Southern Queerness, which looks at maps created by the group to see how their use of coded language changed over time, The Power of Naming: Language and the Construction of Queer Community, which studies how the names used for the queer student group on campus shifted a total of seven times since the group’s inception in 1983 to respond to the campus community’s needs, and Sin and Sexuality: Evolving Christian Attitudes of Queerness, which looks at campus and national religious views of queer lifestyles. Students worked with Dr. Giggie over the Spring semester to research these and other topics and to create this digital humanities website. We are so proud of the work that our students continue to do — great job and Roll Tide, Invisible Histories students!

Dr. Tera Hunter Visits Campus for Summersell Book Prize

  • May 10th, 2019
  • in News
Dr. John Giggie (right) presents the Deep South Book Prize to Dr. Tera Hunter (left).

This past semester, Dr. Tera Hunter, Edwards Professor of American History and Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, visited campus to receive the Fourth Biennial Deep South Book Prize from the Summersell Center for the Study of the South for her book Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017). Hunter presented a talk on her book and spoke with students at a luncheon.

Bound in Wedlock book coverIn her book, Hunter analyzed the ways that African American couples created their own understanding of marriage while living under slavery and after Emancipation. She examines records from plantations as well as legal and court documents to see how these individuals and families shaped their marital identity in a time of oppression. These couples, Hunter argues, both conformed to and challenged white Christian norms pertaining to conjugal relationships.

Thank you for visiting, Dr. Hunter, and congratulations on winning the book prize!

Summersell Center and Civil Rights History Task Force Publish Civil Rights Trail Book

  • May 9th, 2019
  • in News

Photo of Dr. John Giggie and two Summersell Students standing near the Tuscaloosa County historical marker recounting the history of lynching in the county.Director of the Frances J. Summersell Center for the Study of the South , Dr. John Giggie, working with students from his class on Religion and Civil Rights at The University of Alabama and members of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Task Force, recently published a 37-page Civil Rights History Trail guide for the city of Tuscaloosa.

Based partly on student research, the pamphlet chronicles the history of key events, institutions, and individuals associated with the local history of the movement.  In particular, it included the memorial to lynching victims at the old city jail, a monument that was erected due to student research in the Alabama Memory course.

Trail Map

Summersell Student Wins First Place in URSCA

  • April 26th, 2019
  • in News

Isabella Garrison Presents her researchHistory major and Summersell Center for the Study of the South student Isabella Garrison of Raleigh, North Carolina, took first place in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Summit for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (URSCA) poster competition for her presentation on “The Cartography of Southern Queerness.” URSCA allows undergraduate students the opportunity to highlight their research and creativity at UA.

Garrison uncovered a deeper understanding of the emergence of the queer movement at the University of Alabama, specifically how queer students created safe spaces in an unwelcoming environment. Working with Dr. John Giggie, Director of the Summersell Center, Garrison and her classmates from “Invisible Histories” dug deeply into manuscript collections at W. S. Hoole Special Collections at UA. Her class was the first to have access to the Miller-Stephens Collection, which documents queer life on campus.

During her research, Garrison noted three cryptic hand-drawn maps guiding queer students to parties off-campus. She analyzed the maps and illuminated how the coded directions revealed queer student desires for friendship balanced against their fear of rebuke by the general student population. “Generally, I think the research reflects a larger reality of southern queerness, one defined by circulation and not congregation,” said Garrison. “To be queer in the South is to travel, physically and intellectually, to find safe community.” Congratulations, Isabella!

Summersell Center Partners With Central High School to Teach About Lynching History

  • April 17th, 2019
  • in News

Three students write on a dry erase boardDr. John Giggie and the Summersell Center for the Study of the South were recently recognized for their efforts to map the history of lynching victims in Alabama and develop a program for teaching about racial violence and southern history at the secondary education level.

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama awarded Dr. Giggie a grant to expand the Center’s partnership with Central High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Specifically, the Community Engagement Graduate Fellowship covers the full cost of tuition and health insurance of a UA graduate student and provides a monthly stipend for them to work with Dr. Giggie. Ms. Margaret Lawson, a current senior majoring in history who will begin the Secondary Education MA program in The University of Alabama College of Education this fall, will serve in that capacity.

The project builds on a partnership with Central High School, the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, along with the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Task Force, and professors from the Department of Education and the University Libraries at The University of Alabama. Dr. Giggie and Ms. Lawson will seek to design and implement a new curriculum that allows students to explore the place of lynching in Southern history. At its core, students from Central will research the history of local lynching victims and work closely with local community partners to erect a monument dedicated to these victims.

The award was presented during the Thirteenth Annual Awards Luncheon on Wed., April 17, 2019 in the Ferguson Student Center Ballroom at 11:30 a.m.

Summersell Center Students Present at National Conference

  • April 9th, 2019
  • in News

John Giggie, Emma Pepperman, and Margaret Lawson at the conference.Students enrolled in Dr. John Giggie’s Invisible Histories course recently presented research posters at the Queer History South Conference, which was held in Birmingham, Alabama, from March 27 through March 29. Invisible Histories is the first course of its kind in the history department — dedicated to learning about queer history and specifically recapturing the emergence of the queer student movement at The University of Alabama and across the state. Dr. Giggie has taken groups of students to three conferences within the last year. Within the last year, he has taken groups to the National Peace and Justice Summit, the Annual Meaning of Southern Historical Association, and now the Queer History South Conference.

At the conference itself, the students headlined a special session focused on local battles for civil rights waged by LGBTQ+ individuals. They also met with historians, archivists, and researchers from across the South. Students are now building a digital humanities website to host their research and offer perspectives on the history of student life at the university. The follow-up course will be offered this fall, HY 430: Queer History South, in which students will take oral histories of state-wide queer leaders. All students, regardless of class standing or major, are welcome to enroll and speak with Dr. Giggie.