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, oral history, and queer studies. Plaster completed his PhD in American Studies at Yale University. His dissertation explores the social trauma inflicted on queer, marginally housed youth in U.S. “tenderloin” districts and the ways they work to transform those brutal realities through religious ritual, performative storytelling, novel kinship networks, and the arts. His work has appeared in Radical History Review and 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. In 2010, Plaster 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 University and interprets those collections for the university community and the public through public humanities programs, oral history projects, courses, and other collections-based innovations. His first large-scale project is the Peabody Ballroom Experience, a collaboration with Baltimore’s ballroom community, a performance-based art culture comprising gay, lesbian, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color.