Extra Credit- Episode 2 Ben Franklin’s world

For this extra credit opportunity, I listened to episode 2 of Ben Franklin’s World. This episode had guest Cornelia King, Chief of Reference at the Library company of Philadelphia, and curator of women’s history. The podcast contained a lot of information from what Cornelia’s duties are as the Chief of Reference, to what the library company hopes to promote when they create a new exhibition. The newest exhibition they discussed was “That so Gay, outing in early America.” Cornelia explained that out of all the times they have been able to create this new exhibition this was the best time to showcase that gay relationships have been a part of American culture for decades.

The Library Company of Philadelphia has been a part of the gay movement and it’s history for years. King explains that the company wanted to create this exhibition during this time because it would be the prequel of the first LGBTQ protest at Independence hall, 50 years ago. Independence Hall and the Library are right in the center of the strong gay community in Philadelphia today, making this exhibition even more powerful to show how far the LGBTQ community has come.  

Cornelia highlights that they created this exhibition to show same-sex relationships have flourished through novels and readings dating back all the way to biblical times. Also highlighting Philadelphia’s historic movement in the LGBTQ community. While listening to this podcast I myself realized just how much gay relationships and culture have influenced American novels and media through the decades. One interesting discussion point used in the podcast was the point of “keywords” being used in biblical writings and early American writing to combat using the word gay. Biblical figures would say “friends rather than enemies”, which now we can see suggests some sort of relationship. Other main stream novels including “Moby Dick” use writing and keywords that suggest there is some sort of relationship between two men on the ship. As told by King thousands of media stories and novels from early America used these keywords, so much that King had to leave out many novels from the exhibition because there would be an overflow if they were to include every one.

This point of keywords intrigued me, and made me realize that gay relationships in early American media has allowed the coverage and freedom of gay culture to be present today. King in the podcast discusses this point exactly saying that she uses these exhibitions to not only show how far America has come but also made the public understand and be aware that many of the things happening in today’s society were already major discussions in other eras of America. This made me also see that the development of technology and forms of communication and innovation have allowed the discussion and acceptance of gay culture to adapt over the years, into what it is today.

Overall, I’m glad I picked this podcast, to me personally this is something I have never thought of and it made me wonder what other things are hiding in early American media. King explained that the reason for these exhibitions is to pose questions and allow the viewer to get the answer from the work presented and I think she is doing just that. This article showed that media stories today, and social conflicts today are not new, rather they have been a part of our history and have been represented in our media for decades.


5 thoughts on “Extra Credit- Episode 2 Ben Franklin’s world

    This is a really cool post and I think your analysis of the podcast is extremely well done and thoughtful. After reading your post I began to think a lot about LGBTQ history in America; specifically why it isn’t emphasized very much in history courses and whether or not this means that the history community just doesn’t think it as important as other subjects (which if true is a real shame on the practice), or if perhaps this field of history is still quite new and thus only now beginning to become a popular subject of historical analysis. Regardless, I think that the history of the LGBTQ community in America (and perhaps the wider world) would make for a very interesting history course if any professor would be inclined to have a go at it. I also found the idea behind “keywords” being present in much of American literature to be really really interesting and would be intrigued to see what other titles make the list. By and large this is a great post and your podcast seemed to be really unique and alluring!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! Cornelia King the guest on the show kept pushing that she creates these exhibitions to inspire questions from the audience and I think she did just that. And just like you mentioned I would also defiantly be interested in seeing what other titles made the list!


  3. I’d be happy to talk in class about the integration of LGBTQ history into courses. Here’s a short version of an answer in two parts:

    1. We’re not doing a good enough job of it.
    2. To an extent, it is a relatively new field (certainly by comparison to others) and so the scholarship is not as well developed. It also sometimes gets marginalized into courses where the study of gender is an explicit topic of the course, but not necessarily in other places.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Kylie,
    For the extra credit assingment I also listened to this episode which I found very intersting. This semester I am taking the history of gender, sexuality, and the body which is a class I highly reccomend if you are intersted LGBT history because we discuss it frequently and in depth. While listening to this you brought up a great point about how the media can hide certain things. In early America, sexuality was a touchy subject that was never talked about in public because it was seen as a private matter. I would be interested to see what other objects they had on display in that exhibit. You did a great job summarizing and pulling out key points and expanding on them. Great job!


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