Document Type

Open Access Article

Author Biography

Julie R. Enszer, PhD, is a scholar and a poet. Her scholarly book manuscript, "A Fine Bind," is a history of lesbian-feminist presses from 1969 until 2009. Her scholarly work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Cultures, Journal of Lesbian Studies, American Periodicals, WSQ, Feminist Studies, and Frontiers. She edits and publishes Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal.


Barbara Grier, best known for her publishing work with the Naiad Press, started her literary life in the pages of The Ladder, the magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis. Working initially under the tutelage of Jeanette Howard Foster, Grier cataloged and categorized work by and about lesbians during the repressive decades of the 1950s and 1960s. By tracing Grier’s work in three major bibliographic projects, the Lesbiana column in The Ladder, the Lesbian in Literature (published in three separate editions), and Lesbiana (a book Grier published from her columns), Grier’s bibliographic practices, enumerative and annotative, emerge as tools in the era before Judith Butler that distill lesbian identities and forge lesbian communities through iterative practices. An examination of Grier’s bibliographic work between 1957 and 1981 reveals how it functions as a form of identity making and communal imagining, anticipating Butler’s theories of bodies and beings in Gender Trouble (1990). Operating functionally as an outsider of multiple worlds, Grier’s work is a monumental achievement, synthesizing a rich lesbian literary tradition from the work of predecessors. Grier’s work also provided a vibrant foundation for future canon-making projects that define lesbian literature and assert lesbians as cultural citizens.

(In the issue section "Rethinking Catalogs and Archives")