professor
George Chauncey

Feb 2021

I concur with everything written below: this course is incredible. Professor Chauncey is incredible. If you are having any doubts about taking the class if you are trying to decide whether to take this course or another history course if you are deterred because it is a 4-credit course - just take it. It is worth it. p.s. DO AS MUCH OF THE READINGS AS YOU CAN - especially the primary sources, which are really, really interesting. However, he and the TAs are all understanding and sometimes don't even expect you to have read all of it. Do the readings because they will enhance your appreciation of the material.

Jan 2021

This is the best class I'll probably ever take while in college. Every glowing review on here is true and encapsulates the class perfectly. However, I want to address the review that says the class is focused on white cis gay men because if this was true I wouldn't have taken the class and I don't want that false statement to dissuade anyone. Despite being limited by sources and research favoring white men, Chauncey goes to great lengths to make his class DISRUPT the narrative of the exclusively white gay man. We learned in-depth about both gay men and lesbians and the queer community among people of color. Queer men and women of color were never tokenized or mentioned briefly, but woven fully in the narrative of queer history. In terms of "first mentioning transphobia by name in the last week of class": you could only think this if you did not attend a lecture or fundamentally misunderstood the course. Transphobia wasn't mentioned until the end because "transgender" is a very recent term, and the class started in the 1700s. However, questions of gender identity was a central theme of the course from the start. In fact, much of what we covered revolved around people who today might be called trans because they were the face of the queer community when sexuality hardly a concept. In short, this class is highly intersectional (as other reviewers state as well). If you're tired of the lack of representation in queer narratives, please take this course.

Dec 2020

Professor Chauncey is fantastic. I took the course during Fall 2020, so the entire course was virtual, but because he put so much thought and effort into the class experience, it was by far the best class I took this semester. Lectures are twice a week - they are fascinating, funny, and engaging, but they are dense. Section meets once a week to discuss the readings. The course is a must-take no matter your sexual orientation -- everyone will learn something from this class. He tries to make this class approachable for non-history majors, and I know that many of the students in the class were not history majors, but it is definitely not easy. There is a ton of material to learn, so don't underestimate it. Despite that, I gained so much from this class, and if you are willing to put in the effort, it is so incredibly worth it.

Dec 2020

TAKE THIS CLASS!!! I cannot say how grateful I am for having taken this class my first year of college. As a straight student who had been literally ignorant about some central LGBTQ debates, I have learned so much from this class about LGBTQ history, changes in our pop culture, feminism, gender issues, and so much more. THIS IS A CLASS THAT REALLY MADE ME RETHINK MY PRESUMPTIONS AND START LOOKING AT THE SURROUNDING WORLD MORE INTENTIONALLY. Lectures are very engaging and well-organized, and Professor Chauncey is a very approachable person. He replies to emails promptly and genuinely cares about his students. I walked away from this class with so much gratitude.

Dec 2020

Pretty sure the first time Professor Chauncey mentioned transphobia by name was in last week of class. The focus of this class is definitely on white cis gay men, so be warned. You're probably better off taking a gender/sexuality studies class.

Apr 2020

Based on these reviews, it is really a tragedy that Chauncey isn't gold-verified yet. Everything everybody else has said is true, but I will just add that Prof. Chauncey is probably the closest thing you could get to a Robin Williams-esque college professor. He is by far the best lecturer I have had in college (and I am a history major, so I've had some great lecturers!). He made me believe the lecture model actually can be a valuable learning tool. But beyond even THAT, I have never had a professor care so demonstrably about their students in such a big class. Chauncey cried in front of us at least three times. When talking about sensitive, traumatic moments in LGBT history, he told us constantly we were precious both to him and the world. He really creates an atmosphere of radical vulnerability while also offering an impeccably researched, structured class. I missed only one lecture and I still regret it. I recommend US Lesbian & Gay History to everyone who asks me for life-changing, off-the-wall class suggestions. You will benefit so much from it if you ARE gay, especially because Chauncey takes such pains to weave in the history of Columbia/Barnard into general queer history. But! You also will benefit from it just if you want a fun class. For history major prospies also, it's a really excellent introduction to contemporary historical research methods and a great alternative to a basic intro euro survey.

Jan 2020

TAKE THIS CLASS IF YOU ARE EVEN REMOTELY CONSIDERING IT. Chauncey is an incredible professor and lecturer who truly cares about his students. His lecture style is very engaging and felt more like a podcast I was super interested in than having to sit through a round of slides. IF you are a history major, I 100% recommend this class for you. We did oral history, wrote papers, and went over extremely interesting material. Not only is the material interesting but the professor is incredible as well. I wish I could take this class every semester. However, this class has really helped me establish my desire to be a history major, and learn about US History through a new fresh context. If there is any advice I could give to incoming students who are wondering what to take, it is to take this class at some point in your college career! Even if you aren't LGBT, it is so interesting and such important material. Nothing but glowing reviews!!!

Jan 2020

This is the best class ever taught by the best professor ever with the best TAs ever. I have nothing negative to say about this class. I'm serious. The worst thing about U.S. Lesbian and Gay History is that it ends. When the semester is over, you will wish it wasn't. George Chauncey is a rare gem. Not only is he an expert in the field of U.S. gay and lesbian history, but he is also an incredibly engaging and compelling lecturer. His passion for the subject shines through in every class and he is an excellent speaker. One thing that struck me about Professor Chauncey was his fair and unbias presentation of information. He said on the first day of class that he would teach us about the history of the anti-gay movement, but would never bash or mock the anti-gay movement. Because of his fairness, I feel like I walked away with a deeper understanding of anti-gay ideology in American than I would have if he had mocked them or made it seem like they were stupid. Professor Chauncey is kind, funny, entertaining, and incredibly intelligent. There was never a dull moment. An insider tip: make sure you ask your TAs about Chauncey's work. He was involved first hand in many of the movements he discusses in class but rarely talks about his own involvement. My TA told our discussion section a little bit more about Chauncey's personal work in the field and all I can say is, what an incredible guy! Speaking of the TAs, my TA for this class, Nikita Shepard, was wonderful. They were knowledgeable and passionate about gay U.S. history. We had the best time ever in our discussion section. The seniors in my disc section all said that Nikita was the best TA they had ever had. In addition to presenting the information in the readings to us in a concise, helpful way, they also made an effort to include information about trans people and people of color within the queer movement, as did Chauncey himself. As another reviewer mentioned, this class is not whitewashed by any means, nor does it skip over trans history. I am confident that Chauncey and the TAs will continue to talk about queer people of color and trans people even more as more research is done. Take this class. As a queer person, it will make you think about your identity in a way you never have before. Think you know gay history? I promise you don't.

Dec 2019

Chauncey is great. This class was really wonderful to take -- sometimes I cried in class because of the powerful nature of the lectures, sometimes I laughed so hard because of how funny Chauncey is... great class. His midterm and final were kind of intense, but the TAs graded fairly. There are a fair amount of readings and you have to do them to succeed in discussion section or the tests. The two essays weren't impossible either. I really recommend this if you're queer (or straight) because you learn a lot about your history that you'll have never known!

Dec 2019

Professor Chauncey is a great great great professor who has taught me so much about the history of queer/LGBT+ activism and identity in America. Lectures are always really well organized and he provides a lot of detail about queer life since the 1800s. His own research focuses mostly on gay culture in New York City (which he literally wrote a book about), and he is always happy to talk to students outside of class. He is genuinely excited about his field and the work he does, and really hopes to get students excited about queer history as well. Readings are very very interesting, and the assignments really are intended to get you to think about how your personal experiences reflect broader ideas about queer identity in the world around you. The class is called "lesbian and gay history" not because Prof. Chauncey excludes trans issues from his research, but because he recognizes that his own research has focused predominantly on specifically gay and lesbian issues, and doesn't want to misrepresent the content of the course. He is a white cis-gender man with his blind spots, but he does his best to bring in histories about communities of colour (his work actually talks a lot about Puerto Rican gay communities in NYC) and gender non-conformity. He's also pretty knowledgeable about gay politics in different countries, which he's happy to talk about during office hours. I don't know if its possible to overstate his importance in the field of queer history - his book, Gay New York, was the second major historical publication about queer identity after John D'Emilio, and he was the historian "on call" when they were trying to pass marriage equality in 2015, and testified for ~8 hours on the stand about the history of anti-gay discrimination in the United States. Regardless of all these academic qualifications, you should take this class because he's incredibly down to earth and a genuinely kind person who invests a great deal of his own emotional energies into his teaching. He talks a lot about his personal experiences as a gay man in America during lecture, and the last few classes towards the end of the semester get very emotionally intense when the content moves towards stuff like AIDS and the rise of the Christian Right in America. He cares deeply about his students and wants us to all take care of ourselves and each other. The only thing I will say is that lectures can be a little dry at times, even though he tries his best to insert ~millennial~ references for our benefit.

Dec 2019

This Class is so incredible. And you do NOT need to be gay to take it. Chauncey is probably the best lecturer you will ever have. Incredibly organized, passionate, and more than anything else, fun. He spiced up lectures by playing fun music, showing movie clips, and doing basically all of the things that a professor should do. He made me cry and laugh uncovered a whole world of history that I did not know about before. Take this class!!!!

Dec 2019

The most engaging lecturer I've ever had. This class is engaging and beautiful, so special. Take this class. Chancey is a gem of a teacher. So grateful this class exists.

Dec 2017

I don't even know where to begin with Professor Chauncey... I'll start by saying that I have never written a CULPA review, but I knew it would be an injustice for me not to do so for this class. Professor Chauncey just came with his husband to Columbia from Yale, which is probably why you hadn't heard much of him before. When he taught this class at Yale, it was so large that he had 15 TA's, so that should tell you something about it to begin with. In regard to the class itself, I will say that this is by far my favorite class at Columbia (and I am a senior). Each of the lectures is incredibly interesting and engaging, and you will learn so many things that you probably knew nothing about or took for granted in the past. Chauncey is at once brilliant, compassionate, and funny. He is cited in almost all of the books he assigns (because he is one of the best in his field), but he is not at all pretentious. He goes out of his way to meet as many of his students as possible, and even offers to meet them for coffee or lunch. One day, he came into our section to observe how the TA's were doing (which I have literally never seen a professor do at this school), and by the end he successfully went around and named everyone in the class. I also feel it is important to add that this class is not as white-washed or as dismissive of queer/trans identities than its title or description may suggest. Chauncey says from the day one that he makes it a priority to incorporate the stories and histories of queer people of color into the narrative (and he is currently writing a book that aims to do this in the context of New York City), and he does a good job of sticking to this throughout the semester (unlike other professors whose efforts to include PoC into their curriculum are tokenized or minimal). As for trans identities, you will quickly learn that this is an integral part of the course, but that it is simply the words that change throughout history. For example, you will learn that at one point, people assumed gay men or women to be gender inverts. This is all to say that Professor Chauncey's class is a must-take at Columbia. This is history that everyone should know something about -- whether or not you identity as queer or trans. Chauncey is taking a year off to finish writing his book about queer life in NYC, but when he comes back and teaches this course in Fall 2019, TAKE IT.