The Importance of Being Agnes: Locating Harold Garfinkel’s Case Study in Historical Context
In this talk, I present work from a book-in-progress about Harold Garfinkel’s 1967 chapter about Agnes, a piece of research now widely understood to be the first sociological case study of a gender nonconforming person. Much like Freud’s classic studies of Dora and the Wolf Man, Garfinkel’s writings about Agnes have captured the imagination of social psychologists, feminist social scientists, queer theorists, and transgender studies scholars alike, as evidenced by the continued re-interpretation of Garfinkel’s case material over the last fifty years. Drawing on newly discovered archival materials, I bring Garfinkel’s interviews with Agnes back into the historical context of the emerging disciplines of sex and gender and the field of sociology in the late 1950s.
Kristen Schilt is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Just One of the Guys: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Inequality and the co-editor of a forthcoming book titledOther, Please Specify: Queer Methods in Sociology. She currently serves as the Director for the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.