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Mertz Library Humanities

Queering Botanical Science:
A Discussion in Celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Friday, June 26, 2020

11 a.m. | Online

Please join us for this important conversation that will forefront and examine the role of the LGBTQ+ community in the development of botanical science to present and facilitate a broader understanding of the history of modern botany.

In the mid-to-late 19th century, the rise and significance of evolutionary thought in Charles Darwin’s post-Origin world generally coincided with the emergence of sexological thought in Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s foundational Psychopathia Sexualis (1886). New theories of biological and environmental knowledge collided with novel hypotheses about sex, gender, and sexual behavior, leaving a lasting legacy. Many botanical and library collections, including those held by The New York Botanical Garden, contain rich stories of individual botanists who transgressed the gender and sexual norms of their day. Exploration of their scientific endeavors—in the field, the laboratory, and the herbarium—within their social and historical contexts provides a window into thinking through sexualized discourse about plants and people.

Queering botanical science requires studying how LGBTQ+ histories intersect with their professional research, and how their alternative scientific theories for the biological cause of difference challenged the rise and acceptance of heteronormativity in modern science. The speakers will address these important issues to move beyond the normative narratives—and to enrich older ones.

Q&A among the speakers and with the online participants will follow the presentations.


Nuala F. Caomhánach

Convener and Moderator. Ph.D. candidate, New York University, and research associate at the American Museum of Natural History. Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Humanities Institute (2019–20), LuEsther T. Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden

Head shot of Nuala F. Caomhánach

Luis Campos, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of the History of Science, The University of New Mexico

Talk Title:
“Mutant Sexuality: The Private Life of a Plant (And Those Who Studied It)”

Head shot of Luis Campos

Natania Meeker, Ph.D., and
Antónia Szabari, Ph.D.

Associate Professors of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California and co-authors of Radical Botany (Fordham University Press, 2019)

Talk Title:
“Botany for Libertines”

Head shot of Antonia Szabari and Natania Meeker

Matthew C. Pace, Ph.D.

Assistant Curator, William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, The New York Botanical Garden

Talk Title:
“Pride in the Field: The LGBTQ Legacy of NYBG”

Head shot of Matthew Pace

Support for the Humanities Institute provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation