Main Page

     
 

Lectures

by Will Roscoe

 

Related Materials


Over the years I have developed several lectures on different aspects of my research, beginning with “The Zuni Man-Woman,” which I've presented to audiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. All of these lectures are extensive illustrated with slides—an outmoded technology, I realize. However, my introductory lecture on North American two spirits has been converted to an animated PowerPoint presentation.

For a list of locations and occasions where I've previously lectured click on the Publications List link. For my availability please contact me at willrsf@sbcglobal.net.


 
   

Native American Studies

"Strange Country This": The Native American Two-Spirit Tradition

This animated PowerPoint presentation explores the Native American two-spirit or third gender tradition—men who cross-dressed or combined the clothes of men and women, and became artists, healers, and spiritual leaders. Using rare historical images and photographs, the lecture provides examples of two-spirit roles throughout North America, focusing on their social and religious significance. It concludes with the life of the Crow two-spirit, Osh-Tisch or Finds Them and Kills Them, an artisan and medicine person who gained fame when he fought in the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876.

The Zuni Man-Woman

Among the Zuni Indians of New Mexico a special role existed for individuals who combined the skills and activities of both men and women in a unique third gender role. This slide show is about the male lhamana—a story told through the life of one of the tribe’s most famous members, the renowned potter and weaver We’wha. This dress-wearing man spent six months in Washington, D.C. in 1886 and called on President Cleveland. We’wha’s story is followed by a discussion of the Zuni philoso-phy of gender. What makes a man a man? What makes a woman a woman? Traditional Zuni wisdom has surprising answers to these questions. Finally, the supernatural counterpart of the lhamana, the man-woman of myth and ritual, is explored. Over 140 slides include original photography of the Zuni area and unpublished historical photographs.

 
   
The One Who Changes: Hastíín Klah and the Navajo Two-Spirit Tradition

Hastíín Klah (1867-1937) is remembered today as one of the first Navajos to incorporate religious designs into weaving and as the co-founder of the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe. Klah was a two-spirit or nádleehí, a member of the Navajo third gender role. He was both a medicine man (a male pursuit) and a weaver (a women’s art). As the meaning of the term nádleehí, "the one who is changing," implies, Navajo concepts of gender and identity were remarkably fluid. Reviewing Klah’s legacy of traditional arts and mythology offers a rare glimpse into the inner life of a third-gender person. The lecture is illustrated with over 150 slides.

Woman Warrior/Woman Chief: Two-Spirit Women and Their Sisters

Although Europeans stereotyped Native American women as dominated by men, they were in fact more independent and powerful than women at any level of European society. Throughout North America, Native women became chiefs, warriors, and shamans. Some, like Weetamo of the Wampanoags and Lozen of the Apache were prominent leaders in native resistance. Others, like the Kutenai Qánqon-kámek-klaúlha, served as mediators and ambassadors. In the far west, women who lived like men as a result of visions or dreams often married other women. This lecture presents the results of over 15 years of research into Native two-spirit traditions. Illustrated with over 100 slides, it explores the life and times of woman warriors and chiefs over the course of four centuries.

Visions of Double Woman: Art and Sexuality in Lakota Religion

The goddess Winyan Nonpapika, or Double Woman, is a powerful and ambivalent figure in Lakota mythology and religion. Through dreams and visions, she can impart unique skills in the arts and healing. She can also lead women to pursue a life of sexual promiscuity and men to become wintke, members of the Lakota berdache or third-gender role. Related to Double Woman is the goddess Anuk Ite, Two Face. Originally the most beautiful of all women, Ite’s vanity leads her to neglect her family and insult the Moon goddess. As punishment, one side of her face is made ugly, and she is banished to the earth, where she plagues both men and women with her dangerous sexuality. This illustrated lecture explores the associations between gender, sexuality, creativity, and the unconscious represented by Two Face and Double Woman. Lakota religion suggests connections between sexuality and creativity little appreciated in Western culture. The result is a new and fascinating view of Plains Indian art, religion, sexuality, and women.


 
 

Queer History

Priests of the Goddess: Gender Diversity and the Origin of Civilization

In the ancient world, from India to Rome, certain goddesses attracted male followers who often practiced a radical form of gender transgression, including cross-dressing and same-sex relations. The priests of the gods Cybele and Attis, the galli, were considered members of a medium genus or tertium sexus—a third gender. As various accounts suggest they were a common sight throughout the Greco-Roman world. Similar roles existed even earlier, in Mesopotamia and India. Today, priests of the goddess survive in South and Southeast Asia. This illustrated lecture explores the role of gender transgression past and present, and provocatively argues that the presence of multiple genders is closely linked to the social developments underlying the "birth" of civilization in the Old World.

Johann Winckelmann and His Beautiful Young Men of Marble and Flesh

by Bradley Rose

In 1755, the German Johann Winckelmann traveled in Rome to become the pope’s official antiquarian. Considered the founder of art history and classical studies, Winckelmann was also gay, and his arrival in Rome marked the beginning of his "coming out." In the years that followed, Winckelmann developed a unique theory of art based on his appreciation of male beauty. At the time of his mysterious death in 1768, he was one of the most influential figures of the Enlightment. This slide-lecture, researched and developed by the late Bradley Rose, explores Winckelmann’s life and thought as he came to terms with his sexuality in the colorful world of papal Rome. Click here to see the full presentation on-line.

Castro Street, U.S.A.

How did an Irish Catholic neighborhood in San Francisco become the internationally-recognized capital of gay liberation? This lecture relates the social and cultural developments that sparked the gay migration to San Francisco beginning in the 1950s and the transformation of Eureka Valley into the gay ethnic enclave now called Castro Street. As the lecture reveals, San Francisco’s gays and lesbians followed time-honored models of ethnic identity and empowerment. As a result, they are today an integral part of San Francisco’s multicultural politics. The lecture concludes with a visual "walking tour" of the neighborhood.


 
 

Queer
Spirit

Plato, Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven

In 1958, the historian Morton Smith discovered a fragment of a letter by an early Christian father at a monastery in the Judean desert. The letter quotes from a previously unknown version of the Gospel of Mark. It describes Jesus practicing a mystical form of baptism that enabled the initiate to enter the "kingdom of heaven" and suggests that some Christian groups, following this lost Gospel, practiced baptism gumno gumnos—“naked man with naked man.” The idea of spiritual ascent to the heavens through a union between men is a central idea of Platos philosophy, as well, and one can find it in the writings of Walt Whitman and, more recently, the theories of Harry Hay concerning "subject-subject" consciousness. This provocative lecture documents the parallels between the teachings and practices of Jesus and those of Plato and argues that the common denominator of both is the motif of shamanic initation. The lecture concludes by arguing that there is a deep-rooted—and largely hidden—link in history between same-sex love and shamanic ecstasy. The lecture includes a selection of slides.

Queer Spirits: Finding the Archetypes of Same-Sex Love

This slide-lecture documents the diverse traditions of queer social and spiritual roles. Roscoe identifies three sets of archetypes that are relevant to contemporary gay and queer-identified people—the two-spirit or third gender roles, the divine twins, and images of initiation. These archetypes can be found in a variety of myths and mythical figures from around the world, and they are often manifest in particular social roles. The lecture provides examples of these archetypes from Native North America, Asia, Africa, and the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. It concludes with an examination of these archetypes in the works of such modern gay artists as Robert Mapplethorpe, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and others.