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Laurie Marhoefer (he/him or she/her)

Associate Professor
Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor of History

Contact Information

SMI 118
Office Hours: 
AUT 20: Please contact to set up a virtual appointment.


Ph.D. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, 2008
B.A. Columbia, 2000

I am a historian of queer and trans politics. My book on fascism and the politics of sex is Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis (2015); it reexamines the gay and trans rights movements of the 1920s, which were the world's first. My work has been published in The American Historical Review and elsewhere. I also write for the press on things like neo-Nazism, queer fascism, and the history of AIDS.

I'm currently working on two books. The first, Empire of Queer Love: How Magnus Hirschfeld Made the Modern Homosexual, examines how ideas about racism, imperialism, disability, and antisemitism created gay rights as we know it. That story is told by way of a recounting of the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld's 1930-2 lecture tour of the American and British Empires in the company of the Chinese student Li Shiu Tong. The other book, tentatively Crimes Against Nature and Crimes Against Humanity, is a history of queer and/or transgender people in Nazi Germany and Austria and Nazi-occupied Europe that considers women as well as men and trans as well as cis people and centrally analyzes racism as a vector of persecution.

I co-teach a class on the global history of AIDS with Prof. Lynn M. Thomas and I'm developing a class on the digital histories of the First and Second World Wars with Taylor Soja, supported by a digital humanities grant from the Simpson Center.

I am affiliated with the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and the Department of Germanics. Before UW I had gigs at the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto, the University of Oxford, and Syracuse University.


Courses Taught

Graduate Study Areas

A note to prospective graduate students: I am reading applications for this year. Faculty have different preferences in terms of whether prospective applicants should informally reach out to them prior to the application process. Mine is that you do not have to contact me in advance to apply, though if you would like to, that's fine too. I am qualified to train PhD students in modern German history or modern European history (including empire) and the history of sexuality in the modern era. Students with a BA are encouraged to apply to our MA program, which feeds into our PhD program. Generally, admits to a Phd or MA program in modern German history have some German. Two years is ideal; one year is probably the minimum. Studying the language on your own (such as with a computer program) without formal instruction is probably not sufficient unless German is not the first language you have learned as an adult and/or you are living in a German-speaking country while you conduct your informal study. Strong applications include a writing sample that showcases the applicant's ability to analyze primary sources to make an original argument. Ideally some of those primary sources would be in German but that's not strictly required. Successful applications show how the student excelled in their program to date (BA or MA) and have an exciting direction for their future research, one that aligns with the prospective dissertation supervisor's own interests and expertise. I hope that prospective applicants to a graduate program in history will take note of the fact that completing such a program no longer guarantees one a job in academia as the number of teaching jobs continues to be far smaller than the number of Phds awarded each year.

Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

Students preparing this field with Professor Marhoefer will study the social, cultural, and political history of Germany, German-speaking Europe, and Germany’s global colonial empire from the late eighteenth century to the present. Work on the major field will introduce students to important historiographical problems, such as those regarding Germany’s development into a modern nation state across the nineteenth century, the history of German Jews from the eighteenth century to the present, the development of feminism in Germany and the various paths that German feminists took in their search for justice, German imperialism, gay and trans liberation movements in German-speaking Europe from the nineteenth century to the present, the rise, fall, and long aftermath of Nazism, the rise and fall of German communism, and state violence and genocide in German history.

Division: Comparative History--Comparative Gender & Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism*

A field in comparative gender directed by Professor Marhoefer will examine the transnational histories of gender and sexuality, as well as the closely related histories of class, race, and empire, especially within modern Europe and its colonies. A field in the comparative history of ethnicity and nationalism will investigate notions of race, national identity, and ethnic identity together with the closely related histories of gender, sexuality, and class, in the context of modern Germany and modern Europe. Students are encouraged to design fields that will serve their research interests.

*Students may not offer a field in the Comparative History division as a first field.

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