Jen Manion is a social and cultural historian whose work examines the role of gender and sexuality in American life. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (Penn, 2015) which received the inaugural Mary Kelley Best Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Their most recent book, Female Husbands: A Trans History (Cambridge, 2020) was a finalist for the OAH Lawrence Levine Award for the best book in U.S. cultural history and recipient of the best book prize by the British Association of Victorian Studies.  Jen is Professor of History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College. Previously, they worked for ten years at Connecticut College as a faculty member in the history department and founding director of the LGBTQ Resource Center. Jen received a PhD in history from Rutgers University and a BA in history with an English minor from the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude.  (media note: if you are wondering about pronouns, why not just use my name? My thoughts on pronouns can be found here.)



Essays on pronouns

The Performance of Transgender Inclusion
The Rightness of the Singular They
Don’t Pop the Champagne Yet on “They”
Twitter thread on Pronouns & More Thoughts…

essays on gay things

Why Do You Call us Ladies?
Committees are for Straight People
The Tangled Web of Familial Homophobia
Reflection on the national significance of the Stonewall Riots

Essays on the carceral State

Histories of Sexuality and the Carceral State, part 1, part 2, part 3
Criminalizing Sexual and Gender Deviance
Race and Gender in the Carceral State
Prison Sex & Solitary Confinement
When White Liberals and Black Elites Make Things Worse

Essays on Trans History

May we all be so brave
The Queer History of Passing as a Man in Early Pennsylvania
Transgender Children in Antebellum America

scholarly articles

“Carceral History in the Era of Mass Incarceration,” PMHB, 2019
“Transgender Representations, Identities, and Communities,” Oxford Handbook, 2018
“Language, Acts, and Identity in LGBTQ Histories,” Routledge History of Queer America, 2018
“Prisons Prior to Mass Incarceration,” Western New England Law Review, 2017
“Gender Expression in Antebellum America,” U.S. Women’s History, 2017
“Gendered Ideologies of Violence, Authority, & Racial Difference,” RHR, 2016
“Queer Periods,” Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 2016
“Transbutch,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2014
“The Absence of Context: Gay Politics Without a Past,” QED: Journal in GLBTQ World Making, 2014
“Historic Heteroessentialism and Other Orderings in Early America,” Signs, 2009


My research in American history centers on social and cultural histories of poor, marginalized, and otherwise ordinary people. My first book was a social history of the founding of the penitentiary in the United States that centered women and paid close attention to how race, class, gender, and sexuality shaped the process. Many concerns that define contemporary debates about mass incarceration were evident in the policies that governed punishment over two hundred years ago, including the criminalization of African Americans — especially women.

My research has been generously supported by numerous grants and fellowships over the years including Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard; Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale; New England Regional Fellowship Consortium; Amherst College Trustee Faculty Fellowship; National Endowment for the Humanities at American Antiquarian Society; Mellon Grant at Massachusetts Historical Society; Research Matters Grants at Connecticut College; Mellon Grant at Library Company of Philadelphia & Historical Society of PA; Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Rutgers University Graduate School; McNeil Center for Early American Studies at Penn


Amherst College
Professor of History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies
Box 5000
111 Chapin Hall
Amherst, MA 01002

email: jmanion at amherst dot edu
tweets: @activisthistory

Faculty profile

Headshot by Code Purple Photography. Background Photos by Jen Manion: Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond Visitors Center, Eastham MA; London Metropolitan Archives, London; American Antiquarian Society, Worcester MA; Paddington Station, London; Provincetown MA.