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News from the Research Commons

August 10, 2016

Spotlight: Caleb Knapp on Race and Non-Normative Sexuality


Caleb Knapp
During an undergraduate course on race, realism and the city, Caleb Knapp considered literature’s “social, cultural, and political value.” Earning his Ph.D. in English at the University of Washington, Caleb is using the value found in literature to research the question: “how are race and non-normative forms of sexuality related, and what is the long history of that relationship?”

Caleb uses two different lenses in his research. First, Caleb is looking at the history of queer identity in the United States including the LGBTQ community’s reclaiming of the term “queer” and the current debate concerning what “queer” really encapsulates. Caleb’s other lens is focused on the history of transatlantic slavery and its influence and shaping of American history.

Instead of placing race and non-normative sexual identity into separate arenas, Caleb is looking at the way in which non-normative sexualities have emerged and been expressed in tandem with racial formations. Caleb’s research demonstrates the influence race has on gender and sexual identity and vice versa; he determinedly charts this interconnected yet largely overlooked relationship through history.