Jennifer Tyburczy

Associate Professor
Graduate Advisor

Office Location

4713 South Hall


LGBTQ Studies, queer theory, genders and sexualities, race and nation, performance studies, social justice, transnational American studies, popular culture, ethnography, cultural politics, political economy, visual art and culture, museum and archive studies


PhD Northwestern University (Performance Studies with graduate certificate in Gender Studies)

MA University of Texas, Austin (English)

BA University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (English, Journalism and Mass Communication with Spanish language minor)


Jennifer Tyburczy is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the display of visual, popular, and material culture in museums and the global flow of sexual objects across mapped and symbolic borders, particularly throughout North America, Latin America, and Western Europe. Her first book, Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, can be found at Sex Museums combines ethnographic field methods, such as participant observation and interviews, with archival research and visual art, performance, and film analysis to argue that the Western museum context from its inception to the present day is a pivotal site in the construction of modern sexual subjectivity and the categories of “normalcy” and “perversity.”

In fall 2013, Sex Museums was awarded an honorable mention by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies for the CLAGS Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding first manuscripts in LGBT studies. An article based on the last chapter of Sex Museums “Queer curatorship: Performing the History of Race, Sex, and Power in Museums” and published in Women and Performance was honored by the GL/Q Caucus at the Modern Language Association with the prestigious Crompton-Noll Award in 2014. Portions of the research conducted for her first book have also been published in Criticism, Museum & Society, Radical History Review, Text & Performance Quarterly, Women & Performance, and The Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies.

In addition to her work as a teacher and a writer, Tyburczy is also a performance artist and a curator. She has performed in Austin, Chicago, Houston, Mexico City, and Tijuana and while working as the Director of Programming at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago she curated several exhibitions that explored the intersection of race, transgender identity, disability, and sexuality. In 2015, her exhibition Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship showed at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. During its 12-week run, Irreverent mobilized Tyburczy’s concept of queer curatorship through the display of artworks censored in the “post” culture war years. Each gallery restaged the social, cultural, and political components that led to each controversy by using wall texts and the artists’ photographic archives to situate the works within their historical contexts of censorship and resilience. While queer and dissident sex was central to the exhibition and to the book Sex Museums, both also showed how sex has consistently been used as a political tool to silence all kinds of minority voices on issues that range from immigration to religion, to race, gender, and disability, to globalization, capitalism, and neoliberalism. Tyburczy's exhibition was awarded the 2015 Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding project in queer history. Tyburczy and the Leslie-Lohman are currently looking for a venue on the west coast to mount a second run of Irreverent.

In 2012-2013, Tyburczy spent the academic year in Mexico City on a Fulbright-García Robles Grant with an institutional affiliation at El Colegio de México and their the Interdisciplinary Program in Women's Studies. During this time, she conducted research for her second book project, Sex After NAFTA: Crossing Borders and the Economy of Intimacy. This project traces the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on everyday practices of intimacy and argues that "free trade" dramatically changed how intimacy is constructed and experienced in the United States and Mexico in the twenty-first century, a phenomenon she calls "the economy of intimacy." The book manuscript will demonstrate how the mechanisms of "free trade" are delicately interwoven with national and international notions of what sex and sexuality mean.

Tyburczy is currently collaborating with artists, academics, and activists in Mexico City and Tijuana on museum exhibitions, performance events, and binational intellectual projects. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of International Women’s Studies and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking and as co-chair for the Queer Caucus for Art of the College Art Association.  

Tyburczy has had the privilege of teaching undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Texas, Austin, Columbia College Chicago, Northwestern University, Rice University (where she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality from 2010-2012), and the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She looks forward to mentoring the next generation of feminist and queer studies scholars at UCSB.


2016 Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, University of Chicago Press

  •      Winner of 2017 Lamda Literary Award in LGBTQ Studies
  •      Best Book of the Year by the GLBTQ Division of the National Communication Association, 2016

2012 "All Museums are Sex Museums," in Radical History Review, special issue on "Calling the Law into Question: Confronting the Illegal and Illicit in Public Arenas," Issue 113, 199-211.

2013 "Queer Curatorship: Performing the History of Race, Sex, and Power in Museums," Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory  23: 1 (2013) 107- 124. Co-winner of the Crompton-Noll Award, GL/Q  Caucus, MLA 2014

2014 "Leather Anatomy: Cripping Homonormativity at International Mr. Leather," special issue on "Cripistemologies," edited by Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 8, 3 (2014): 275-293.

2015 "Queer Acts of Recovery and Uncovering: Deciphering Mexico through Ephemera in David Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly," Text & Performance Quarterly 31, no. 1, 4-23.

2016 "Sex Toys after NAFTA: Transnational Class Politics, Erotic Consumerism, and the Economy of Female Pleasure in Mexico City."  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, special issue on Pleasure and Danger: "Sexual Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First  Century", Volume 42, Number 1, 123-152.