OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Jennifer Brier

Portrait of Jennifer Brier
Image Credit: Jenny Fontaine

Jennifer Brier is an associate professor of gender, women's studies, and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also directs the program in gender and women's studies. She specializes in U.S. history of sexuality and gender, the history of HIV/AIDS, and public history. She is the author of Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Response to the AIDS Crisis (2009). She guest-edited and contributed to "HIV/AIDS in U.S. History: Interchange," in the Journal of American History (September 2017), the first feature-length piece on the subject to appear in the journal. She also coedited, with Jim Downs and Jennifer Morgan, Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America (2016). With Jill Austin, Brier cocurated Out in Chicago, the Chicago History Museum's award-winning exhibition on local LGBT history; coedited the companion anthology; and wrote the introductory essay entitled "Out in Chicago: Exhibiting LGBT History at the Crossroads." Brier is at work on a major public history project called History Moves, a community-curated mobile gallery that will provide a space for Chicago-based community organizers and activists to share their histories with a wide audience. Since 2015, History Moves has also partnered with the Women's Interagency HIV Study to collect and curate the stories of nearly forty women living with HIV/AIDS in a multimedia project, "I'm Still Surviving."

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This talk centers the oral histories of dozens of women living with HIV/AIDS in the contemporary United States. It details how women living with HIV have moved from the margins of what was once a deadly epidemic to becoming survivors, storytellers and history makers. Their stories and histories of survival can inform our sense of US women's history, the history of racial formation, and the history of health and wellbeing in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
As we approach the fifth decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we continue to have a pressing need for a useable and meaningful history of how people-across identity categories of sexuality, gender and race-struggled and fought to make minoritized communities healthy in the face of profound abandonment and opprobrium. In this talk historian Jennifer Brier will detail a series of powerful examples of resistance to this silencing in hopes of sparking a conversation about how to imagine a future without AIDS.
History Moves is a collaborative public and urban history project, with the express intention of designing spaces where community partners can determine the historical focus of exhibitions and public programs. A powerful example of what a shared authority might look like, History Moves, through collaboration with several different stakeholders, curates and displays histories of disenfranchised communities and themes in urban America. History Moves exemplifies what I call the "mobile humanities," defined as much by itinerant potential, as by a commitment to working with and for communities, structured by historical and entrenched systems of inequality, to become makers of historical narratives about themselves and their city.