Colin R. Johnson

Colin R. Johnson

Associate Professor, Gender Studies

Adjunct Associate Professor, American Studies

Director of Graduate Studies, American Studies

Adjunct Associate Professor, History

Adjunct Associate Professor, Human Biology


  • Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan, 2003
  • M.A., American Culture, University of Michigan, 1998
  • A.B., Law, Letters and Society, University of Chicago, 1996

About Colin R. Johnson

My research focuses on the history of gender and sexuality in the United States during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. My first book, Just Queer Folks: Gender and Sexuality in Rural America, dealt the history of gender non-conformity and same-sex sexual behavior in the rural United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Although it is still in the very early stages of development, my second project examines the historical relationship between “anti-social” behavior and sexual alterity, particularly as these currents of meaning played out in the lives of notably solitary figures such as the shut-in, the hermit and the recluse. In addition to the history of gender and sexuality, additional areas of interest include 19th and 20th century U.S. regional literature, the history of agriculture and the environment, queer theory, psychoanalytic theory, postcolonial theory, and the study of material culture. Over the years, my research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Smithsonian Institution, The Johns Hopkins University's Program for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the University of Helsinki’s Ruralia Institute, McGill University’s Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Selected publications

Johnson, Colin R. Unfriendly Thresholds: Misanthropy and Sexual Difference in American Culture [In Progress].

Johnson, Colin R. Just Queer Folks: Gender and Sexuality in Rural America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013. Published as part of the Sexuality Studies book series, Janice Irvine and Regina Kunzel, eds. Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies.

Gray, Mary L., Brian Gilley and Colin R. Johnson, eds. Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies. New York: New York University Press, 2016.

Johnson, Colin R. “Men and Women Like That: Regional Identities and Rural Sexual Cultures in the South and Pacific Northwest” in Understanding and Teaching U.S. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Susan K. Freeman and Leila J. Rupp, eds. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014. 166-177. Winner of the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Anthology.

Johnson, Colin R. “Unfriendly Thresholds: On Queerness, Capitalism and Misanthropy in 19th Century America” in Unarchived Histories: The ‘Mad’ and the ‘Trifling’ in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, Gyanendra Pandey, ed. London: Routledge, 2013. 110-124.

Johnson, Colin R. “Homosexuals from Haystacks: Gay Liberation and the Specter of Queer Majority in Rural California, circa 1970” in Subalternity and Difference: Investigations From the North and the South, Gyanendra Pandey, ed. London: Routledge, 2011. 41-56.

Johnson, Colin R. “Casual Sex: Subaltern Sexuality ‘On the Road’ in Early Twentieth Century America” in Subaltern Citizens and Their Histories: Investigations From India and the United States, Gyanendra Pandey, ed. London: Routledge, 2010. 63-76.

Johnson, Colin R. “Casual Sex: Towards a ‘Prehistory’ of Gay Life in Bohemian America.”Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 10.3 (November 2008): 303-320.

Johnson, Colin R. “Homosexuals in Unexpected Places? An Introduction.” American Studies 48.2 (Summer 2007): 5-8.

Johnson, Colin R. “Camp Life: The Queer History of ‘Manhood’ in the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1937.” American Studies 48.2 (Summer 2007): 19-36. Winner of the Stone-Suderman Prize given by the Mid-America American Studies Association in recognition of the best essay published each year in the journal American Studies.

Courses taught

G105: Sex, Gender and the Body

G206: Gay Histories/Queer Cultures

G290: History of Feminist Thought and Practice

G300: Core Concepts and Key Debates

G340: Gender, Geography, Sex and Space

G350: Queer Theory

G600: Concepts of Gender

G701: Graduate Topics in Gender Studies: Queer Historicism

G702: Researching Gender Issues

G704: The Cultural Politics of Sexuality in the 20th Century