Leila J. Rupp

Interim Dean
Professor of Feminist Studies

Contact Phone

(805) 893-8354


Leila J. Rupp is Interim Dean of Social Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  A historian by training, she is an interdisciplinary scholar of sexualities and women’s movements.

Dr. Rupp received her PhD in Modern European and Modern American History from Bryn Mawr College in 1976, taught for a year at the University of Pennsylvania, and took up a tenure-track position in History and Women’s Studies at Ohio State University in 1977, where she moved through the ranks and served as the chair of the Department of History from 1999 to 2002. She held a guest professorship in the Department of Economic History at Stockholm University in 1998. In 2002, she accepted an appointment in what was then the Women’s Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, where she served as chair from 2003 to 2008 and supervised the creation of a PhD program. From 2008 to 2016, she was Associate Dean in the Division of Social Sciences, while continuing to teach and mentor graduate students in the Department of Feminist Studies.

Dr. Rupp’s research has been supported with grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Radcliffe Research Support Program. Her books include Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women (2009); Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret (2003), coauthored with Verta Taylor; A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Sexuality in America (1999); Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women’s Movement (1997); Survival in the Doldrums: The American Women’s Rights Movement, 1945 to the 1960s (1987), with Verta Taylor; and Mobilizing Women for War: German and American Propaganda, 1939-1945 (1978).  She is a coeditor, with Susan K. Freeman, of Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (2014), and, with Verta Taylor and Nancy Whittier, of the seventh, eighth, and ninth editions of a best-selling textbook, Feminist Frontiers.  She has published numerous articles in disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals, including American Historical Review, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Feminist Studies, Gender & Society, Frontiers, NWSA Journal, Journal of Women’s History, Gender & History, and Mobilization. Her current research is on new intimacies and sexual identities among women college students

From 1996 to 2004, Dr. Rupp served as editor of the Journal of Women’s History. She has served on numerous editorial boards and on committees for a variety of professional associations.

Over the years, Dr. Rupp has received awards for research, teaching and service. Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History was awarded a Lambda Literary Award for the Best LGBT anthology, and Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret won the Distinguished Book Award of the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association. She is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer and won the Distinguished Scholar Award at Ohio State in 2001. Her teaching awards include the UC Santa Barbara Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award (2008), the Ohio Academy of History Distinguished Teaching Award (1995) and the Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching (1984). The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity at UC Santa Barbara awarded her the Gavin Newsom Award in 2005 and the Helping Hand Award in 2003. At Ohio State, she was honored with the Director's Award, Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Services, in 1997.