Gender and Sexualities

An interdisciplinary research cluster under the auspices of the history department

About the Cluster

The study of gender, bodies and sexualities is central to a full appreciation of the past, whether one is studying political culture, work and leisure, religious ideologies, scientific practices, state formation, or war.  Our department has long been a recognized leader of gender history in a variety of temporal and geographic fields: medieval and modern Europe, colonial America and modern US, Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia.  Many of us work on topics that transcend national boundaries by integrating gender into studies of imperialism, decolonization, borderlands, and international trade.  Our research methods are as diverse as the topics we study.  We approach gender and sexuality as historians of the emotions and the senses, as historians of political economy and business, as historians of material culture, consumption, and food practices, as historians of cities and the built environment, and as historians of childhood and the family.  We study the history of work in its widest sense, including slavery, industrial, agricultural work, and household and intimate labors.

Some of our activities include:

  • We host a Gender and Sexualities History Brown Bag series in which faculty, graduate students and guests workshop articles and chapters, and discuss current issues in feminist pedagogy and politics.
  • We sponsor guest speakers
  • We host conferences and symposia
  • We partner with the Department of Feminist Studies and other affiliated scholars
  • We host an annual graduate student retreat where students can discuss their work with faculty and peers not on their doctoral committees

Goals and Future Directions

  • Reconsider the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in light of the changing nature of the field
  • Develop new areas of departmental expertise
  • Develop greater public engagement through social media and through hosting an annual public event

People in the Cluster

Faculty and Lecturers:


Affiliated Faculty:

Current Graduate Students:


  • Justin Bengry (Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck College, University of London, Founder and Managing Editor of Notches: (Re)marks on the History of Sexuality)
  • Megan Bowman (Lecturer, Georgia State University)
  • Joshua Birk (Assistant Professor, Smith College)
  • Sarah Case (Managing Editor, The Public Historian, Lecturer University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Sandra T. Dawson (Lecturer, Northern Illinois University)
  • April Haynes (Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin)
  • Carolyn Herbst Lewis (Assistant Professor, Grinnell College)
  • Betsy Homsher (Vice President, Student Affairs, Kettering University)
  • Nancy McLaughlin (Associate Professor, UC Irvine)
  • Elizabeth Pryor (Assistant Professor, Smith College)
  • Nancy Stockdale (Associate Professor, University of North Texas)
  • Danielle Swiontek (Department Chair, Santa Barbara City College)
  • Bianca Murillo (Assistant Professor, Willamette University)
  • Laura Nenzi (Associate Professor, University of Tenn. at Knoxville)
  • Nicole Pacino  (Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, Huntsville)
  • Anne Rapp (Associate Professor, Lewis University, Chicago)
  • Katrin Sjursen (Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville)
  • Tanya Stabler (Assistant Professor, Loyola University, Chicago)
  • Matthew Sutton (Professor, Washington State University)
  • Sarah Watkins (Visiting Assistant Professor, Colby College)
  • Corinne Wieben (Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado)
  • Angela Woollacott (Manning Clark Professor of History, Australian National University)
  • Leandra Zarnow (Assistant Professor, University of Houston)

News & Events

Research Cluster News

2019 Events:



Wednesday, January 23, 3-5pm

“Podcasting the Past: Teaching Tolerance and the Making of Queer America”

Dr. Leila Rupp, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Public Lecture: CITRAL (UCSB Library)

Interactive talk with Dr. Leila Rupp, Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies Leila Rupp, Department of Feminist Studies, will talk about the process of designing and co-hosting a podcast, “Queer America,” sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project. The podcast aims to help high school teachers integrate queer history into the social studies curriculum.


Monday, February 4, 2:30-4:00 PM

“Heavenly Hermaphrodites: Adam, Eve, and the Creation of Sex”

Dr. Leah DeVun, History, Rutgers University

Public Lecture: HSSB 6020

Leah DeVun, an Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, will examine how certain ancient and medieval thinkers claimed that “hermaphroditism” was the original condition of humanity, created by God and documented in the first chapters of Genesis. The idea that Adam was a hermaphrodite fueled medieval debates about sex and gender, as well as about human nature. In the modern world, objections to transgender and gender-nonconforming people often cite the bible, which is viewed as describing the division of humans into two distinct sexes. Historians and other scholars, the lecture argues, should consider more carefully how Christian ideas about the sexed body emerged and developed – such histories have the power to disrupt our certainty about which sexes and genders are legitimate, natural, and deserving of human dignity.


Monday, February 11, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

“Rethinking Medieval Rape”

Dr. Carol Lansing, History, UC Santa Barbara

Paper Workshop*: HSSB 4020

Scholars, myself included, have argued that a medieval European woman and her family were reluctant to charge rape unless they hoped to force a marriage: then as now, the chances of humiliation and damage to reputation were high and the odds of a conviction or in fact any positive outcome very low. This simply was not true in Bologna. Sixty court cases in which women accused men of rape or attempted rape survive for a three-year period, and roughly half of the women were quite low status. Further, most quickly dropped the charge. Why would so many poor women choose to file and then drop a charge of rape?

* For a copy of the paper, please email Jarett Henderson:


Monday, February 25, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

“War and Violence: Border Women and the Mexican Revolution”

Dr. Veronica Castillo-Munoz, History, UC Santa Barbara

Paper Workshop*: HSSB 4020

During the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), border women were often targets of violence by the military and by revolutionary caudillos. Newspapers reported how border women were victims of rape, kidnappings, and even sold into prostitution. 1 While the historiography on the Mexican Revolution is extensive, border women’s participation in the Revolution, have been, for the most part, invisible. Through an examination of rare photographs, census records, personal correspondence, and testimonies, this paper examines the gendered implications of war and how border women negotiated injustice, violence, migration, and family during the most violent years of the Revolution in Northern Mexico.

* For a copy of the paper, please email Jarett Henderson:


Friday, March 15, 12:00-1:30 PM

“‘Mate in the Struggle, Master in the Life!’ Introducing Feminism in the Trade Unions”

Dr. Anna Frisone, History, UC Berkeley

Public Lecture: HSSB 3041

Anna Frisone, a visiting researcher in the History Department at UC Berkeley, will present a lecture that elucidates the struggles conducted by Italian and French women unionists during the crucial turn of ‘the long 1970s’. The international spring of the second-wave women’s movement encouraged new critical reflections on the allegedly neutral but on the contrary deeply gendered nature of the workers’ organizations. The aim is to provide an account of trade union feminism that, despite being at the intersection of major international phenomena such as the working-class movement and the second-wave feminist movement, has been largely overlooked by historiography. Indeed, it proves to be a precious resource both for understanding the relevance of gender with regard to labor history and for better articulating the historical narrative of second-wave feminism at large.



Monday, April 8 – 12:00 – 2:00 PM 

Dr. Sharon Farmer, History, UC Santa Barbara

Paper Workshop*: HSSB 4020 

* For a copy of the paper, please email Jarett Henderson:


Monday, April 29 – 12:00 – 2:00 PM



Monday, May 20 – 12:00 – 2:00 PM 

Dr. Jarett Henderson, History, UC Santa Barbara

Paper Workshop*: HSSB 4020 

* For a copy of the paper, please email Jarett Henderson:



Friday, June 21, 2019 – 9:00AM – 5:00 PM

Grad Student Colloquium

HSSB 4020

Papers will be circulated in advance. For copies of the papers, please email Jarett Henderson:



Page last modified: March 13, 2019