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.


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

Courses Taught


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

Oral History and Queer Newark

Newark Social Justice Movements (research seminar)

The Politics of Pornography and Obscenity in US History


Radical Film History
Law and Culture in American History
Sexuality and American Culture 

Radical Politics in US History

Trash Cinema and the Cultural Politics of Sleaze

Associated Programs

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


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)

Selected Recent Work:

Sex Miseducation,” The Baffler, February 2022

Drag Queens and Beauty Queens: Contesting Femininity in the World’s Playground, book review, New Jersey Studies 8.1 (2022): 362-364

“Porno Dialectics at Work” (review of Heather Berg, Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism), New Labor Forum 30.3 (2021): 113-116

“Sanitizing Halsted,” video essay for LA Plays Itself: The Fred Halsted Collection blu-ray (Altered Innocence), December 2021

Book Banning Has a Long and Homophobic History,” Star-Ledger, December 2021

The Newark History Missing from ‘Many Saints’” (with Mary Rizzo), Washington Post, October 2021

New Jersey Hasn’t Defeated ICE Yet,” The Nation, September 2021

“Hardcore Wishman,” in ReFocus: The Films of Doris Wishman, eds, Alicia Kozma and Finley Freibert (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), 67-77

“The Comstock Apparatus” (co-authored with Jeffrey Escoffier and Jeffrey Patrick Colgan), Intimate States: Gender, Sexuality, and Governance in Modern US History, eds. Margot Canaday, Nancy Cott, and Robert Self (University of Chicago Press, 2021), 41-63

“Trans Porn Genealogy beyond the Queer Canon: Kim Christy, Joey Silvera, and the Hetero-Industrial Production of Transsexuality,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 7.2 (2020): 174-191

“Obscenity,” Routledge History of American Sexuality, eds. Kevin Murphy, Jason Ruiz, David Serlin (Routledge, 2020), 234-242

New Jersey’s unique political contours make challenging immigrant detention hard” (with Mary Rizzo), Washington Post, December 2020

Hudson County should end the horror of ICE detainment. Don’t renew the contract” (with Marlene Nava Ramos), Star-Ledger, November 2020

Should democratic socialists endorse Joe Biden?” (with Jorge Maldonado), Star-Ledger, May 2020

Sanitizing the Seventies: Pornography, Home Video, and the Editing of Sexual Memory” Feminist Media Histories 5.2 (2019): 19-48

New Jersey is Addicted to ICE,” The Nation, March 2019

“N.J. has a rich socialist history – and future,” Star-Ledger, January 2019 (published as “I’m a socialist and historian, socialism is blooming again in N.J.-this time in the age of Trump,”

No Sex in Newark: Postindustrial Erotics at the Intersection of Urban and Adult Film History,” JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 58.1 (2018): 175-181

“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

Stop fighting yesterday’s porn wars,” La Crosse Tribune, December 2018

“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,”

“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

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

“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

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

“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