Historian of a rich and terrible past
July 20, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Louis Crompton, the author of Homosexuality and Civilization and Byron and Greek Love, has died.

Crompton's pioneering work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the 1970's helped to pave the way for gay and lesbian studies in the American university, but his account of the history of gay identity left him on the unfashionable side of the essentialism/constructionism debate, and his name is often eclipsed by his flashier contemporaries.

From Homosexuality and Civilization:
For many centuries in Europe, homosexuality was conceived principally as certain sexual acts... we must not be complicit in this dehumanization. These "sodomites" were human beings with whom the modern gay man may claim brotherhood and the modern lesbian recognize as sisters. To divide history in two in 1869 at the moment when the word "homosexual" was coined is to deny this bond. To adopy Michel Foucault's view that the homosexual did not exist "as a person" until this time is to reject a rich and terrible past.
Crompton is survived by his partner of 40 years, Luis Diaz-Perdomo.
posted by dickymilk (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
An incredible book from an incredible scholar. Thanks for the post.
posted by blucevalo at 10:42 AM on July 20, 2009



Another great mind lost to us.
posted by strixus at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2009

He had a long and distinguished career, and a rich, full life. Godspeed to him.

When someone 84 years old, who has found professional success and lasting love, dies it's not so much a tragedy for them as for the rest of us who will be the poorer for their loss.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Interesting that he did his pioneering work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. What's the status of gay studies there today? Anybody know?
posted by VikingSword at 11:07 AM on July 20, 2009

[most comments removed - I don't know what the hell is going on, but could you not totally disrespect someone who tried to make a decent post by early threadshitting? thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2009

posted by John of Michigan at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2009

For some reason, Lincoln has always had a robust gay community. I remember seeing a clandestine gay magazine from the 60s that was recommending gay vacation spots, and, for some reason, they particularly singled out Lincoln.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on July 20, 2009

Crompton's Civilization book was one of the first gay history surveys I ever read and a decade later I still think it is one of the most enjoyable subjects in history.

posted by munchingzombie at 12:25 PM on July 20, 2009

posted by Morrigan at 12:40 PM on July 20, 2009

I picked up Homosexuality and Civilization on a whim because I was so happy to see it in my suburban Barnes & Noble and because a brief perusal demonstrated that it was wide-ranging, fascinating and scholarly. It was a very rewarding read. I am not surprised to find that its author was groundbreaking and will be missed.
posted by mayhap at 1:18 PM on July 20, 2009


We're losing him and his contemporaries, like Del Martin. I'm thankful the movement came so far in their lifetimes.
posted by notashroom at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2009

I first read Byron & Greek Love maybe 11 years ago. Fantastic. A great mind and fine writer.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 4:38 PM on July 20, 2009

You know, I had no idea this guy existed, but his rebuttal of Foucault alone convinces me I need to read him. Thanks.
posted by rodgerd at 5:40 PM on July 20, 2009

posted by DaDaDaDave at 5:50 PM on July 20, 2009

posted by polexa at 9:39 PM on July 20, 2009

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