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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 (you can hear me talk about it here). 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.

Racism and the Making of Gay Rights: A Sexologist, his Student, and the Empire of Queer Love, forthcoming 2022 (UTP), is a double biography of Magnus Hirschfeld and Li Shiu Tong as well as an intellectual history of how early gay rights borrowed key concepts from scientific racism, imperialism, and eugenics, as well as from de-colonial thought and the struggle against antisemitism.  The other book-in-progress, 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.

With Noam Pianko, I co-hosted the first season of the Jewish Questions podcast. I co-teach a class on the global history of AIDS with Lynn M. Thomas and I developed a Digital World Wars class with Taylor Soja, supported by a grant from the Simpson Center.

I'm 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. *Prospective grad students please see what I wrote under "Graduate Study Areas" below.*


Courses Taught

Graduate Study Areas

A note to prospective graduate students: Thanks for your interest in our program. I am reading applications for this year. Faculty have different preferences in terms of whether prospective applicants should informally reach out to them over email prior to the application process. I prefer that interested people just apply and not email me beforehand to say hi, unless they have a specific question. FAQs pertaining to my view of this process:

  • 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, in Europe and its empires. I am not qualified to be the advisor of a dissertation on American history. I am only qualified to advise a dissertation in modern European history. There's a slim possibility I'd change my view on that, if the dissertation in question were in trans history for example, but if you want to do queer American history, I could be a committee member, not the main advisor.
  • Usually we don't let people write comparative dissertations. I'd want you to specialize in one country.
  • Students with a BA are encouraged to apply to our MA program, which feeds into our PhD program. You do not need an MA already to apply here.
  • 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.
  • 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 though that's not strictly required. You must however be analyzing primary sources in your writing sample. Don't send a sample that doesn't show you can do that well.
  • Admission here is selective. We do not accept the vast majority of our applicants.
  • Successful applications show how the student excelled in their program to date (BA or MA) -- GPAs should be at the top for example -- and have an exciting direction for their research, one that aligns with the prospective dissertation supervisor's own interests and expertise.
  • A history PhD program isn't great preparation to then get a very lucrative job afterwards. Most history PHDs never become tenured professors. Grad school is very fun (or at least I thought so!) but also very challenging and poorly remunerated. 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.

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.

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

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