History major and Summersell Center for the Study of the South student Isabella Garrison of Raleigh, North Carolina, took first place in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Summit for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (URSCA) poster competition for her presentation on “The Cartography of Southern Queerness.” URSCA allows undergraduate students the opportunity to highlight their research and creativity at UA.
Garrison uncovered a deeper understanding of the emergence of the queer movement at the University of Alabama, specifically how queer students created safe spaces in an unwelcoming environment. Working with Dr. John Giggie, Director of the Summersell Center, Garrison and her classmates from “Invisible Histories” dug deeply into manuscript collections at W. S. Hoole Special Collections at UA. Her class was the first to have access to the Miller-Stephens Collection, which documents queer life on campus.
During her research, Garrison noted three cryptic hand-drawn maps guiding queer students to parties off-campus. She analyzed the maps and illuminated how the coded directions revealed queer student desires for friendship balanced against their fear of rebuke by the general student population. “Generally, I think the research reflects a larger reality of southern queerness, one defined by circulation and not congregation,” said Garrison. “To be queer in the South is to travel, physically and intellectually, to find safe community.” Congratulations, Isabella!