Whitney Strub

Whitney Strub


wstrub [at] rutgers.edu



Office Location

306 Conklin Hall
175 University Ave.
Newark, NJ 07102

Whitney Strub received his doctorate in U.S. history from UCLA, and taught at the University of Miami, California State University-Fullerton, UCLA, and Temple University before joining the Federated Department at Rutgers, where he is associate professor.

His first book, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right, was published in 2011 by Columbia University Press. It charts the use of antipornography campaigns as organizing devices in the mobilization of the modern conservative movement and its “family values” agenda, and also shows the failure of modern liberalism to adequately respond to reactionary sexual politics. His second book, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (University Press of Kansas, 2013) charts the history of obscenity doctrine in patrolling the boundaries of sexual citizenship from the colonial era through the twenty-first century, but especially through the still-binding 1957 Supreme Court case Roth v. U.S., which established that obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment. Most recently, he co-edited Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016), with Carolyn Bronstein.

Strub’s articles, covering such topics as censorship and race in Memphis, heteronormativity and obscenity prosecutions in Los Angeles, the filmmaker Pat Rocco's gay erotic softcore films of the late 1960s, and the fault lines of modern feminist activism, have also appeared in such venues as the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Journal of Women’s History, American QuarterlyRadical History Review, and Journal of Social History, as well as such popular venues as Vice, ThinkProgress, Newark's Star-Ledger, the Washington Post, Slate, OutHistory, Salon, and Temple of Schlock

Teaching in History, American Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, and LGBT Studies, Strub’s courses frequently focus on matters of gender, sexuality, culture, film, and politics. He also co-directs the Queer Newark Oral History Project.

Courses Taught


American Legal History (two-semester survey)
Introduction to LGBT Studies
Visions of the City in American Cinema
Senior Seminar: Gender and Sexuality in American History


Radical Film History
Law and Culture in American History
Sexuality and American Culture (graduate seminar, History and American Studies)


David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History or Biography, 2014 (for Obscenity Rules)

Audre Lorde Prize, American Historical Association Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender History, 2010 (for “outstanding article on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and/or queer history published in English in the previous two years”)

Mary Lily Research Grant, Duke University, April 2010

Phil Zwickler Memorial Research Grant, Cornell University, August 2009

Martin Duberman Visiting Fellowship, New York Public Library, July 2009

Mary Kelley Prize, New England American Studies Association, 2007 (for best paper presented by non-tenure track scholar at annual NEASA conference)

University of California Regents, Regent’s Fellowship, 2001-2006

Historical Society of Southern California, Summer Research Fellowship, 2005

Princeton University Library Research Fellowship, 2005

Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Archives, Moody Fellowship, 2004


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2006     


Modern U.S. history; history of sexuality; LGBT/Q history; film; legal, political, cultural history.



Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right (Columbia University Press, 2011; paperback, August 2013)

Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (University Press of Kansas, September 2013)

Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s, co-edited with Carolyn Bronstein (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016)

Recent Writing for Popular Venues

“A Requiem for a Porn Movie House,” Star-Ledger, July 2018 (published as “This little porn movie house learned to survive for decades—until last week,” NJ.com)

Remembering One Eleven Wines, a Pre-Stonewall Win Against Homophobic State Surveillance” (with Tim Stewart-Winter), Slate, November 2017

Hugh Hefner’s safe sex” (with Carolyn Bronstein), Washington Post, September 2017

Why Libraries Need to Archive Porn,” Vice, February 2017          

In Hispanic Heritage Month, Let’s Remember Gay Rights Pioneer Tony Segura,” Slate, October 2016

Can New Jersey’s Last Porn Theater Survive Gentrification?” Vice, June 2016

How NJ’s LGBT-friendly clubs have long strived for safety” (with Tim Stewart-Winter), Star-Ledger, June 2016

Utah and the war on porn: Our long national history of condemning ‘obscenity’ as public enemy #1,” Salon, April 2016

Merry XXX-Mas: A brief history of Yuletide smut,” Salon, Christmas 2015 (with Laura Helen Marks)

Selected Scholarly Articles/Chapters

“Gay Liberation (1963-1980),” The Routledge History of Queer America, ed. Don Romesburg (Routledge, 2018), 82-94

“Modernizing Decency: Citizens for Decent Literature and Covert Catholic Activism in Cold War America,” Devotions and Desires: Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States, eds. Bethany Moreton, Heather White, and Gillian Frank (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), 133-151

“Sex Wishes and Virgin Dreams: Zebedy Colt’s Reactionary Queer Heterosmut and the Elusive Porn Archive,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 23.3 (2017): 359-390

“Heat Wave: The Memphis Deep Throat Trials and Sexual Politics in the 1970s,” Sex and Sexuality in Modern Southern Culture, ed. Trent Brown (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), 86-112

“The Homophile is a Sexual Being: Wallace de Ortega Maxey’s Pulp Theology and Gay Activism,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 25.2 (2016): 323-353

“The Baraka Film Archive: The Lost, Unmade, and Unseen Film Work of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka,” Black Camera 7.1 (2015): 273-287

“Indexing Desire: The Gay Male Pornographic Video Collection as Affective Archive,” Out of the Closet, Into the Archive: Researching Sexual Histories, eds. Amy Stone and Jaime Cantrell (SUNY Press, 2015), 125-147

“Queer Smut, Queer Rights,” New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law, eds. Lynn Comella and Shira Tarrant (Praeger, 2015), 147-164

“A Community's Response to the Problem of Invisibility: The Queer Newark Oral History Project,” QED 1.2 (2014): 1-14 (co-written with Darnell Moore, Beryl Satter, and Timothy Stewart-Winter)

“Historicizing Pulp: Gay Male Pulp and the Narrativization of Queer Cultural History,” in Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jaime Harker, eds., 1960s Gay Paperback Originals: The Misplaced Heritage (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), 43-77

“Challenging the Anti-Pleasure League: Physique Pictorial and the Cultivation of Gay Politics,” Activism in Modern United States Print Culture, ed. Rachel Schreiber,  (Ashgate, 2013), 161-77

“Mondo Rocco: Mapping Gay Los Angeles Sexual Geography in the Late-1960s Films of Pat Rocco,” Radical History Review 113 (Spring 2012): 13-34

“Lavender, Menaced: Lesbianism, Obscenity Law, and the Feminist Antipornography Movement,” Journal of Women’s History 22.2 (June 2010): 83-107

“The Clearly Obscene and the Queerly Obscene: Heteronormativity and Obscenity in Cold War Los Angeles,” American Quarterly 60.2 (June 2008): 373-398

“Black and White and Banned All Over: Race, Censorship and Obscenity in Postwar Memphis,” Journal of Social History 40.3 (Spring 2007): 685-715

“Perversion for Profit: Citizens for Decent Literature and the Arousal of an Antiporn Public in the 1960s,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 15.2 (May 2006): 258-291

Associated Programs

Affiliate faculty member, American Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies Programs