Exhibitions

Altered Gazes

A Schlesinger Library 75th Anniversary Event
Altered Gazes

Altered Gazes opens on October 2, 2017, and runs through January 19, 2018.

It will be on view on the first floor of the Schlesinger Library, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free and open to the public.


Altered Gazes foregrounds women as creators and consumers of countercultural content. In addition to materials from our growing collection of comics, zines, erotica and pornography, and other alternative publications, the exhibition features materials from the Ludlow Santo Domingo Collection, one of the largest gatherings of underground, alternative, and pop-culture publications in the world, which is shared among various Harvard libraries. Presented as a companion to Houghton Library’s concurrent exhibition Altered States: Sex, Drugs, and Transcendence in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library, Altered Gazes reframes past and present countercultures by highlighting women’s participation and responses.

The works presented in Altered Gazes offer a response both to mainstream society and to the male-dominated countercultural spaces in which they were created. Through small-press and self-published materials—from the aforementioned zines and comics to marijuana cookbooks, musical recordings, and sexually explicit magazines and films—women repurpose the styles and subjects of popular culture to express themselves, to comment on gender roles, and to educate their own communities. Although underground comics, X-rated publications, and popular music have often objectified and marginalized female participants, this exhibition highlights instances where women take charge of the gaze, creating culture instead of merely consuming it.