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John Boswell Lecture Series

The Boswell Lecture series was established by the William & Mary Department of History, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association, 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 the campus community and the general public.

Typically the Boswell Lecture is delivered Friday afternoon during Homecoming weekend in October.

2020 & 2021

There were no lectures in these COVID-19 pandemic years. 


Anne Balay, Independent Scholar: "Queer Work, Oral History, and Civilian Access."


Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee: "Sexuality in the History of Empires."


Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 Professor of Political Science at Amherst College: "Friend or Foe: Liberal Democracy and LGBT Rights in the Americas."


E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies at Northwestern University: "The Beekeeper: Performing Black Southern Women Who Love Women."


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.