Areas of Study:
- Women's Movements
- Comparative and Transnational Women's History
I began college in 1968, a revolutionary year, and I attended an elite women's college, Bryn Mawr, just outside Philadelphia. It was an incredible privilege to be in a place where women were taken seriously. In the summer of 1969, I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I saw a poster advertising what was then called "Female Liberation." I also read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex that summer, and I was hooked.
There was no such thing as women's studies, but my professors were very supportive of my passion for studying women in all of my classes. Kate Millett came to Bryn Mawr to teach a class just after the publication of Flying, and I sat in on her class. I also had an amazing class in what was then called Afro-American History with Herbert Aptheker, the first class he was ever hired to teach. Most of the activism on campus was around the anti-war movement, but the general atmosphere of feminism was very strong.
I majored in history and wrote an honors thesis on women in the labor force in Nazi Germany, and I decided to go to graduate school to study German women’s history. That wasn’t so easy in 1972. I had a false start at the University of North Carolina, where I found no support for my interests, so after a year there, I went back to Bryn Mawr, which had a very small graduate program, in order to work with my undergraduate advisor, who wasn’t a women’s historian but was incredibly smart and supportive. I ended up writing a comparative dissertation on the mobilization of women into the labor force in Germany and the United States during the Second World War, having discovered the joys of U.S. women’s history.
When I went on the job market, I found that my comparative training in U.S. and European history hurt rather than helped me because positions in history are so structured around the nation state. After teaching for a year in a temporary position at the University of Pennsylvania, I was fortunate to be hired in a women's studies/women's history position at Ohio State University, where I stayed for 25 years.
I was the first faculty member in women’s studies at Ohio State—and the Office of Women's Studies wasn’t even an academic unit. Student protests had resulted in the setting up of the office, and there had been some courses taught by graduate students and a few courses taught by faculty members within their own departments. I helped to build a curriculum, hire other faculty, develop a minor and major, and do all the things that make a place for a new discipline within the university. I learned a lot quickly!
In 2002, I had the good fortune to be hired by the Women's Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara. I served as chair from 2004 to 2008 and shepherded the proposal for our graduate program and for becoming the Department of Feminist Studies through the bureaucracy. Since 2008, I have served as associate dean and interim dean of the Division of Social Sciences and interim dean of the Graduate Division.
I think that feminist studies, bridging the social sciences and humanities as it does, has the potential to prepare students for a wide variety of careers. Some of the undergraduate students I have taught have gone into the public sector, working for a variety of social service agencies or NGOs. One student became a freelance writer. Others have gone to medical school, law school, or graduate school. There are so many fields that need people with analytical abilities and good writing skills. Feminist studies combines basic skills with specific knowledge in a way that opens up many possibilities.
Over the course of my career, I have advised 27 PhD students to date. Among my Ohio State students are Frances Hensley, Emerita Professor of History and Associate Provost at Marshall University; Christine Anderson, Associate Professor of History at Xavier University; Shirley Yee, Chair and Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington; Jan Leone, Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University; Kevin White, independent scholar; Irene Ledesma (deceased), University of Texas-Pan American; Kate Weigand, independent scholar; Virginia Boynton, Emerita Professor of History at Western Illinois University; Cynthia Wilkey, Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia at Wise; Penny Messinger, Chair and Associate Professor of History and Government at Daemen College; Sue Wamsley, Associate Professor of History at Kent State University at Salem; Marilyn Hegarty (deceased), lecturer at Ohio State University; Heather Miller, Historical Research Associates, Seattle; Charlotte Weber, independent scholar and freelance editor; Basia Nowak, independent scholar and freelance editor; Renée Lansley, lecturer at Framingham State University; Susan Freeman, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Western Michigan University; and Stephanie Gilmore, independent scholar and freelance editor.
Our UC Santa Barbara Feminist Studies graduate program has flourished since our first cohort arrived. My UC Santa Barbara students include Carolyn Lewis, Associate Professor of History at Grinnell College; Sharon Doetsch-Kidder, Assistant Professor of English, George Mason University; Carly Thomsen, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Middlebury College; Shannon Weber, Writer and Social Justice Educator; Heather Berg, Assistant Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University; Joseph Mann, Program Facilitator and Instructor, Bluegrass Community and Technical College; CJ Jones, Postdoctoral Fellow, SUNY Purchase.
Journal of Women's History, 1996-2004
Leila J. Rupp and Susan K. Freeman, Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014)
- Received the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Best Anthology. Click here to read more about the award.
2015 Lambda Literary Award for Best Anthology2015 Lambda Literary Award for Best Anthology
Leila J. Rupp, Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women (New York: New York University Press, 2009).
Verta Taylor, Nancy Whittier, and Leila J. Rupp (editors), Feminist Frontier, 9th edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011).
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Leila J. Rupp, A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, paperback 2002).
Leila J. Rupp, Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women's Movement (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, Survival in the Doldrums: The American Women's Rights Movement, 1945 to the 1960s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987; Columbus: Ohio State University Press [paperback edition], 1990).
Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978).
Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J. Rupp (editors and translators), Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A Documentation (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978).
Selected Journal Articles
Leila J. Rupp, “Queer Dilemmas of Desire,” Feminist Studies 45/1 (2019), 67-93.
Leila J. Rupp, Verta Taylor, Shiri Regev-Messalem, Alison Fogarty, Paula England, “Queer Women in the Hookup Scene: Beyond the Closet?” Gender & Society 28/2 (April 2014), 212-235.
Leila J. Rupp, “Sexual Fluidity ‘Before Sex,’” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol 37 no 4. (2012), 849-56.
Leila J. Rupp, “The Persistence of Transnational Organizing: The Case of the Homophile Movement,” American Historical Review, 116/4 (October 2011), 1014-39.
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, “Going Back and Giving Back: The Ethics of Staying in the Field,” Qualitative Sociology, 34/3 (2011), 483-496
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, “Straight Girls Kissing,” Contexts 9/3 (2010), 28-32.
Leila J. Rupp, Verta Taylor, and Eve Ilana Shapiro, “Drag Queens and Drag Kings: The Difference Gender Makes. Sexualities13/3 (2010), 275-94.
Leila J. Rupp, "Is the Feminist Revolution Still Missing? Reflection from Women's History," Social Problems 53 (2006), 466-72.
Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp, "Learning From Drag Queens," Contexts 5 (Summer 2006), 12-17.
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, "Becoming the 'Professors of Lesbian Love,'" Journal of Lesbian Studies 9, no. 4 (2005): 25-39.
Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp. "When the Girls are Men: Negotiating Gender and Sexual Dynamics in a Study of Drag Queens," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 (2005): 2115-2139.
Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp, "Chicks with Dicks, Men in Dresses: What it Means to be a Drag Queen," Journal of Homosexuality, 46 (2004): 113-133.
Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp, "Loving Internationalism: The Emotion Culture of Transnational Women’s Organizations, 1888-1945," Mobilization: An International Journal 7 (2002): 125-44.
Leila J. Rupp, "Toward a Global History of Same-Sex Sexuality," Journal of the History of Sexuality 10 (April 2001): 287-302.
Leila J. Rupp, "Is Feminism the Province of Old (or Middle-Aged) Women?," Journal of Women’s History 12 (Winter 2001): 164-173.
Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor, "Forging Feminist Identity in an International Movement: A Collective Identity Approach to Feminism," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 24 (Winter 1999): 363-86.
Leila J. Rupp, "Sexuality and Politics in the Early Twentieth Century: The Case of the International Women's Movement," Feminist Studies 23 (Fall 1997): 577-605.
Leila J. Rupp, "Challenging Imperialism in International Women's Organizations," NWSA Journal 8 (Spring 1996): 8-27.
Leila J. Rupp, "Constructing Internationalism: The Case of Transnational Women's Organizations, 1888-1945," American Historical Review 99 (December 1994): 1571-1600.
Leila J. Rupp, "Zur Organisationsgeschichte der internationalen Frauenbewegung vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg," translated by Beate L. Menzel, Feministische Studien 12 (November 1994): 53-65.
Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp, "Women's Culture and Lesbian Feminist Activism: A Reconsideration of Cultural Feminism," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 19 (Autumn 1993): 32-61.
Leila J. Rupp, "Eleanor Flexner's Century of Struggle: Women's History and the Women's Movement," NWSA Journal 4 (Summer 1992): 157-169.
Leila J. Rupp, "Feminism and the Sexual Revolution in the Early Twentieth Century: The Case of Doris Stevens," Feminist Studies 15 (Summer 1989): 289-309.
Leila J. Rupp, "The Women's Community in the National Woman's Party, 1945 to the 1960s," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 10 (Summer 1985): 715-740.
Leila J. Rupp, "`Imagine My Surprise:’ Women's Relationships in Historical Perspective," Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 5 (Fall 1980): 61-70.
Leila J. Rupp, "Women, Class, and Mobilization in Nazi Germany," Science and Society 43 (Spring 1979): 51-69.
Leila J. Rupp, "Mother of the Volk: The Image of Women in Nazi Ideology," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2 (Winter 1977), 362-379.