Dr. Joseph Plaster is Curator in Public Humanities for the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums and an Assistant Research Scholar at the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute. His research and teaching focuses on collaborative public humanities, performance studies, interdisciplinary oral history, and queer studies. Plaster completed his PhD in American Studies at Yale University with a Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2018. His book project explores the social trauma inflicted on queer, marginally housed youth in U.S. “tenderloin” districts and the ways they work to transform and reinterpret those brutal realities through religious ritual, performative storytelling, novel kinship networks, and the arts.
Plaster’s work has appeared in Radical History Review, The Abusable Past, and a forthcoming issue The Public Historian. His work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and fellowships at The New York Public Library and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and was awarded the American Historical Association’s Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public history. As Curator in Public Humanities, Plaster conducts original research at archives and museums across Johns Hopkins and interprets those collections for the university community and the public through public humanities programs, oral history projects, courses, and other collections-based innovations.
- Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, “Sharing Knowledge: Participatory Archives, Collaborative Oral History, and Social Justice,” Fall 2019.
- Lecturer, Yale University American Studies Department, “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Oral History Narrative,” Fall 2016.
- Lecturer, Yale University American Studies Department, “Public Humanities and Social Justice,” Spring 2017.
- Lecturer, Yale University American Studies Department, “Queer/Trans Performativity,” Spring 2017.
- Teaching Fellow, “Race, Class, and Gender in American Cities,” Yale University, Fall 2017.
- Teaching Fellow, “U.S. Lesbian and Gay History,” Yale University, Fall 2013.
- “Street Family: Queer Performativity in San Francisco’s Tenderloin,” (dissertation, March 2018)
- Major fields for oral exams: Ethnographic Theory and Representation; U.S. Cultural History; Performance Studies; Gender and Sexuality
- “Safe for Whom? And Whose Families? Narrative, Gentrification, and Queer Oral Histories of San Francisco’s Polk Street,” forthcoming in The Public Historian, May 2020.
- “Black Queer Performance in Baltimore’s ‘Cathedral of Books,’” The Abusable Past, digital venue for the Radical History Review, Oct 2019.
- “The Peabody Ballroom Experience,” International Work, USA, Oral History, Autumn 2019.
- “Imagined Conversations and Activist Lineages: Public Histories of Queer Homeless Youth Organizing in San Francisco’s Tenderloin,” Radical History Review Issue 113, May 2012.
- Co-editor (with Megan Rohrer) of Vanguard Revisited: The Queer Faith, Sex & Politics of the Youth of San Francisco’s Tenderloin (San Francisco, CA: Wilgefortis, 2016.)
- “Polk Street: Lives in Transition,” commissioned by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s OutHistory Project, published online, Apr. 2009.
- “Behind the Masks: GLBT Life at Oberlin College,” thesis-length historical narrative written under the direction of Prof. Carol Lasser, 2001, revised 2007.