Queering Decline: Sexuality, Race, and the Transformation of Twentieth-Century St. Louis

2019-08-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Ian Thomas Darnell
The decline of many United States cities is a central theme in twentieth-century urban history. This dissertation queers “decline” by reinterpreting the history of St. Louis, a city that is an iconic and unusually stark example of the phenomenon. Focusing its analysis on the intersection of sexuality and race, the dissertation argues that St. Louis’s decline in large part amounted to a reorganization of metropolitan space jointly structured by heteronormativity and whiteness. Moreover, the dissertation queers the concept of “urban decline” itself, along with its putative opposite, “urban renewal.” Through the lenses of sexuality and race, it argues that “decline” and “renewal” were subjective, mutable, and political categories, and that the processes that they describe were often ambiguous in their consequences.