Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Report card for Wayne Dynes

Recently a good friend, whose opinion I value highly, posed an apt question. He asked what I had accomplished over the last 18 years. (The base year is 1990, when the two-volume Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, the culmination of an effort stretching back a number of years, appeared.) Having reflected on the matter, I offer the following balance sheet.

1. Together with my personal assistant, Stephen Donaldson, I compiled a set of 13-volumes culling the best articles on the subject of homosexuality in a number of subject fields. Most of these volumes are still available (overpriced, to be sure) on Amazon. Many research libraries have them.

2. I supervised the compilation of the Concise Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, a task conducted by Donaldson with much new material. Owing to a dispute with the publisher, this work was not published. The texts will shortly be available on the Internet at Williamapercy.com.

3. Returning to my parent academic field in the early 1990s, I completed a text of 1000 pages on “The History of Art History” (not, as often misperceived, a history of art but of the historiography of art). I submitted the completed text to various publishers, only to find it rejected for various reasons. Eventually, this text may go onto a site on the Internet.

4. Out of this vast text, I carved an abridgement known as the “Mind of the Beholder,” printed xerographically for my students. It is still being used by colleagues at Hunter College. A version of this text is available at Williamapercy.com.

5. Encouraged by John De Cecco, editor of the Journal of Homosexuality, I began work on a multiauthored account of the gay pioneers, those who had made their mark before Stonewall. During my visits to Los Angeles in the 1970s I had interviewed a number of these people, and had become convinced that their work had not achieved proper recognition. Because of technical difficulties, I was unable to complete this book. With my consent it was taken over and carried to completion by Vern Bullough. Vern retained two pieces that I had written for the final volume, published by Haworth Press.

6. Two years ago I gave a post-retirement “gourmet” course on Symbolism at Hunter College. This was not limited to art, but sought to address the broad phenomenon of Symbolism as a cultural movement. The substance of the course is available, lecture by lecture, at Symbolabs.blogspot.com.

7. I created a similar semibook out of my course last year on Medievalism and Modernism. Although the subject has been studied piecemeal with reference to several countries, this is, to my knowledge, the first synthesis. The gist of the lectures is available at Medmod.blogspot.com.

8. For my personal blog, Dyneslines.blogspot.com, I created almost 300 short essays on topics that have drawn my interest over the years. My current emphasis is the Abrahamic religions.

9. I will probably be best remembered for my homosexual trilogy--Homolexis; Homosexuality: A Research Guide; and the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. After my retirement, I realized that the first of these was but tyro work. It needed to be redone from scratch. I had evolved a new way of understanding the origin and function of terms related to homosexuality. I saw them in the light of tropes, or guiding themes. This new work has a home at Homolexis.com/glossary (be sure to use the “glossary” suffix).

It is clear, then, that I have not been idle over the last eighteen years. Still, in looking over this roster, I find that most of the activity clusters in the opening and closing years of the entire period. The years immediately around 2000 were, relatively speaking, barren. Why did this temporary slackening take place? First, I was trying to create the bases for a new life in retirement with the person I judged my life partner. Through no fault of my own, this relationship foundered three years ago. It was nonetheless an attempt worth making. In addition, like many older people, I was initially flummoxed by the new technology of the Internet. As I came abreast of this I was able to make contributions in the new medium.

I retired three years ago at the age of 70, though I return to the classroom occasionally. My renewed tempo of scholarly activity shows that I am still able to make contributions. I have not withdrawn from the fray.


Blogger Arsinoe said...

This upcoming program on gender and sexuality may, or may not, be of interest:


7:08 PM  
Anonymous Monica said...

I am fortunate to have been impacted by 6 and 7. Still wishing you will do yet another gourmet course at Hunter.

9:41 AM  

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