SpeakEasy Blog

Seriously Questioning…Michael Bronski

Michael Bronski is an independent scholar, journalist, and writer who has been involved in social justice movements since the 1960s. He has been active in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, editor, publisher and theorist since 1969. He is the author of numerous books including the recently published A Queer History of the United States for Young People. He is Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University.

On June 18, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining showThe Song Sings Itself, alongside Trish Hall, John Burnham Schwartz, and Darcey Steinke.  We spoke to Michael ahead of the show.

What are you currently working on?

I am now working on The World Turned Upside Down: The Queerness of Children’s Literature which is not about gay characters in books but an investigation into the tension between children’s limitless, anarchic imagination and the social mandate to turn them into responsible adults. It is wide ranging – from nursery rhymes to Victorian children’s novels to Harry Potter – and looks at children’s relationships to sex, death, and psychic survival. Obviously I never got over my “Freud period” in college. I write about politics, sex, and popular culture and  am mostly interested in social and cultural disconnects that we presume are natural For me these are often fissures and cracks that potentially lead to new ways of thinking. If something is “obvious” it is probably ripe for questioning. Future project include a book on why the American 1950s was the queerest decade ever, and a history of women’s political resistance through popular song.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

“Since before this county was founded, there have been people who refused to conform to gender and sexual norms living in and creating America. Often, because they lived outside certain cultural traditions, they led the way for new ways of seeing the world, new ways of seeing America. Sometimes they were persecuted for this; sometimes they were praised.” –From A Queer History of the United States for Young People

What are you reading right now?

I am reading mystery novels, written in the 1920’s,  by Father Ronald A Knox, an Anglican convert to Catholicism who was a noted theologian, popularizer of religion and media star. On the surface the novels have fairly routine plots and titles – “Footsteps in the Dark” – but are curiously queer, theologically infected, and highly entertaining.

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?

Brigid Brophy: famous in the 1970s in the UK and US, she is now mostly forgotten. Brilliant thinker and critic, her novels are miracles of precision, psychological insight, and wit.

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

“Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. ‘Stop!’ cried the groaning old man at last, ‘Stop!’ I did not drag my father beyond this tree.” –From The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein

Are there any quotes that inspire you?

“History is a novel whose author is the people,” Alfred de Vigny

Seriously Questioning…Boris Fishman

Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Travel + Leisure, the London Review of Books, New York magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, among other publications. He is the author of the novels A… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Damian Barr

Damian Barr is the author of Maggie & Me, which the Sunday Times named Memoir of the Year. He is Literary Ambassador for the Savoy in London where he hosts his Literary Salon, which has been going for ten years with hundreds of prominent guests including Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Colm Tóibín, Jojo Moyes, David Mitchell,… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Andri Snær Magnason

Seriously Questioning…Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer of novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays and films. His novel LoveStar got a Philip K. Dick Special Citation, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in France, and “Novel of the year” in Iceland. The Story of the Blue Planet was the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…E.G. Scott

Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands write together as E.G. Scott. Their first novel The Woman Inside came out earlier this year. Keenan is a writer and publishing consultant based in New York City. She has worked in book publishing for eighteen years for imprints of Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, and Macmillan. Wands writes for the page and screen and… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Aatish Taseer

Aatish Taseer is the author of the memoir Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands and three acclaimed novels: The Way Things Were, a finalist for the 2016 Jan Michalski Prize; The Temple-Goers, which was short-listed for the Costa First Novel Award; and Noon; and, a new work of nonfiction, The Twice-Born: Life and… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…John Wray

John Wray is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Lost Time Accidents, Lowboy, The Right Hand of Sleep, Canaan’s Tongue, and most recently, Godsend. He was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists in 2007. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Brooklyn and Mexico… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Nora Krug

Nora Krug is a German-American author and illustrator. Krug is a recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, and the German Academic Exchange Service. Her visual memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, about WWII and her own German family history, was… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree was an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times editor’s choice. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Guernica, among others. She is the book columnist… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Lea Carpenter

Lea Carpenter is a Contributing Editor at Esquire and has written the screenplay for Mile 22, a film about CIA’s Special Activities Division, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich. She is developing her first novel, Eleven Days, for television and her new novel, Red, White, Blue, is out this fall.… Continue Reading

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