Skip to main content
Campus Scene

Colin R. Johnson

Colin R. JohnsonDirector of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor of Gender Studies
Adjunct Associate Professor of American Studies, History and Human Biology

Send Email | (812) 855-6702 | Ballantine Hall 642


PhD in American Culture, University of Michigan, 2003
MA in American Culture, University of Michigan, 1998
AB in Law, Letters and Society, University of Chicago, 1996


G101 – Gender, Culture and Society
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


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 US 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.



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 Studies48.2 (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.


Johnson, Colin R. “The Thin Line of Embodiment,” Bridge 11: Lia Cook, Mariko Kusumoto, Anne Drew Potter.  Pittsburgh: Society for Contemporary Craft, 2011. n.p.

Johnson, Colin R. “Dandyism,” “Dating,” and “Metrosexuals,” in Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Fedwa Malti-Douglas,ed.Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 369-371, 376-382, 1006.

Johnson, Colin R. “Rural Space: Queer America’s Final Frontier.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 13 January 2006. B15-16.

Johnson, Colin R. “Urban, Suburban, and Rural Geographies” in Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America, Marc Stein, ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2004. 217-222.


Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: The Rural Midwest since World War II edited by J. L. Anderson.” Michigan Historical Review. 41.1 (Spring 2015): 103-104.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves.” New England Quarterly. 88.1. (March 2015):  162-164.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature by Mark Storey.” Indiana Magazine of History. 110.4 (December 2014):  397-398.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: Putting the Barn before the House: Women and Family Farming in Early Twentieth-Century New York by Grey Osterud.” Enterprise and Society 15.1 (March 2014): 183-185.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker by Benjamin E. Wise.” Journal of American History 99.4 (March 2013): 1261-1262.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: Metropolitan Lovers: The Homosexuality of Cities by Julie Abraham.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 22.1 . (January 2013): 161-163.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South by Brock Thompson.” American Historical Review 117.1 (February 2012): 247.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW: New York Hustlers: Masculinity and Sex in Modern America by Barry Reay.” Social History, 36.3 (August 2011): 376-377.

Lewis, Miles D., Anthony Amato and Colin R. Johnson. “BOOK REVIEW: Industrializing the Corn Belt: Agriculture, Technology, and Environment, 1945-1972 by J. L. Anderson.” Social Science Journal 48.2 (June 2011): 411-412.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOKS IN BRIEF: Feeling Our Way Toward a History of ACT UP.  A review of Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight against AIDS by Deborah B. Gould.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies  17.2-3 (Winter 2010/Spring 2011): 432-434.

Johnson, Colin R. “BOOK REVIEW:  The Lesbian and Gay Movements: Assimilation or Liberation? by Craig R. Rimmerman.”  American Studies 50.1/2 (Spring/Summer 2010): 250-251.