John Boswell Lecture Series

The Boswell Lecture series was established by the William & Mary Department of History, Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association (WMGALA), and members of the Boswell Family in 1997. Since then, it has brought scholars influenced by Boswell's life and work to speak at events open to both the College community and general public.

In 2011, donors completed initial funding of a permanent endowment for the lecture series. One funding goal is to increase the size of this endowment to $100,000 (the value in 2012 was approximately $75,000). We encourage all interested alumni and friends to help meet this funding goal. You can contribute now with your credit card; the contribution form will be pre-selected to direct your gift to the Boswell Lecture Endowment.

The 2016 John Boswell Memorial Lecture will be delivered during the October Homecoming weekend by E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. The event is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14, at 3 pm in Ewell Recital Hall. Click here for more information.


Susan S. Lanser, Comparative Literature, English, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Brandeis University: "The Sexuality of History: How Sapphic Subjects Shaped European Thought."


Daniel Rivers, Department of History, Ohio State University: "Sexuality and the Policing of the Family."


Kathryn Babayan, Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan: "The Unfolding of the Self/Friend in Early Modern Isfahan."


Sherry Velasco, University of Southern California: "How to Spot a Lesbian in Early Modern Spain."


Susan Cahn, SUNY-Buffalo: "Reading, 'Rithing, Rhythm, and Romance: Southern Girls and Sexual Politics." 


Mark Jordan, R.R. Niebuhr Professor, Harvard Divinity School: "How Christians Began to Talk about Homosexuality." 


Richard Godbeer, Professor of History at the University of Miami: "The Overflowing of Friendship: Love between Men and the Creation of the American Republic."


Maria Rosa Menocal, Director, Whitney Humanities Center, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University: "Dreaming About John Boswell's Medieval Spain." Professor Menocal was a close colleague of John Boswell's at Yale.


Susanne Hafner, Mellon Fellow in Medieval Studies, Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame and Assistant Professor of German at the University of Texas, Austin: "From Phallus to Appendix: Reading the Corpus Priapeorum."


Bruce Lanier Vernarde, Department of History,University of Pittsburgh: "Sex and Salvation in the Middle Ages: Robert of Arbrissel and His Circle." Professor Vernarde was a student of John Boswell's.


Elizabeth Archibald, English Department, University of Bristol: "Family Problems, Problem Families: Some Medieval and Modern Perspectives on Incest." Professor Archibald was a student of John Boswell's.


George Chauncey, author of Gay New York and Making of the Modern Gay World: "Why ‘Come Out of the Closet'? Authenticity, Post/Modernity and the Shifting Boundaries of the Public and Private Self in the 1950s and 60s." Professor Chauncey was a student of John Boswell's.


John D'Emilio, Professor of History and Gender and Women's Studies, Department of History, University of Illinois, Chicago: "Homophobia and Twentieth Century American Radicalism: The Career of Bayard Rustin."


Ruth Mazo Karras, Professor of History and Women's Studies, Temple University: "Separating the Men from the Goats: Masculinity, Civilization, and Identity Formation in the Medieval University." Professor Karras was a student of John Boswell's.


David Nirenburg, Visiting Professor, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University: "Forbidden Sex and Group Identity: Miscegenations Medieval and Modern." Professor Nirenburg was a student of John Boswell's.