Nicholas L. Syrett


Nicholas Syrett
  • Professor
  • Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Co-Editor, Journal of the History of Sexuality

Contact Info

200 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045

Biography

Nicholas L. Syrett is a professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is also a professor, by courtesy, in the History Department and a coeditor of the Journal of the History of Sexuality

He earned his A.B. in Women's and Gender Studies at Columbia University and his Ph.D. in American Culture at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on gender, sexuality, and childhood in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. He is a coeditor (with Corinne T. Field, University of Virginia) of Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (2015) and the author of three books: The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities (2009); American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States (2016); and An Open Secret: The Family Story of Robert and John Gregg Allerton (2021). His articles appear in the American Historical ReviewAmerican Studies, Genders, GLQ, the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, the Journal of the History of Sexuality, and the Pacific Historical Review. He has been interviewed about his research on NPR's Morning Edition, Back Story, CBC radio's The Current, and other radio and television programs and in publications like Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Teen Vogue. He has contributed op-eds to the New York Times, CNN, the Daily Beast, and the Washington Post.

He is currently working on a book about Madame Restell, nineteenth-century America's most notorious female physician, a project that has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies. The book is under contract at the New Press. 

Education

Ph.D., American Culture, University of Michigan

Graduate Certificate, Women’s Studies, University of Michigan

M.A., American Culture, University of Michigan

A.B., Women’s and Gender Studies, Columbia University

Research

Teaching Interests

  • Women's and gender history
  • Queer history
  • Politics of marriage and family

Research

Syrett is a historian of gender, sexuality and childhood in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. He is currently working on three projects: (1) a book on the life and times of Madame Restell, the most famous female physician in nineteenth-century New York City; (2) with Jen Manion (Amherst College), The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States, a comprehensive two-volume set to be published by Cambridge University Press; and (3) with Amy Sueyoshi (San Francisco State University) Queer American History: A Reader in Documents and Essays, a reader designed for classroom use, to be published by Wiley Blackwell.

Research Interests

  • Gender and sexuality in the 19th- and 20th-century United States
  • Histories of childhood
  • Sex and gender in the law
  • Marriage

Service

Syrett is currently an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-editor (with Ishita Pande, Queen's University) of the Journal of the History of Sexuality.

At KU he also serves on the Hall Center Executive Committee. From 2015 through 2017 he was a Co-Chair of the Committee on LGBT History, an AHA affiliate society, and in 2019 and 2022 he co-chaired QHC19 and QHC22, the CLGBTH's inaugural conferences. He was a book review editor for the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth from 2015 to 2019 and currently serves on the editorial collective for Gender and History. He has sat on committees for the Organization of American Historians, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Society for the History of Children and Youth. He currently serves on the OAH's Nominating Committee and is Vice-President/President-Elect of the Society for the History of Children and Youth.

Selected Publications

Books

Syrett, Nicholas L. (under contract). The Trials of Madame Restell: Nineteenth-Century America's Most Famous Female Physician and the Campaign to Make Abortion a Crime. New York: The New Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2021). An Open Secret: The Family Story of Robert and John Gregg Allerton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2016). American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2009). The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Editorial Work

Manion, Jen, and Nicholas L. Syrett (under contract). The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Sueyoshi, Amy and Nicholas L. Syrett (under contract). Queer American History: A Reader in Documents and Essays. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley Blackwell. 

Cleves, Rachel Hope, Averill Earls, and Nicholas L. Syrett (2020). "Sex Across the Ages: Restoring Intergenerational Dynamics to Queer History," Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 46 (1): 1-108. 

Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett (2020). "Chronological Age: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review 125 (2): 370-459.

Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett (2015). Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present. New York: New York University Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

Syrett, Nicholas L. (forthcoming). "Youth Cultures, Sexuality, and the Persistence of the Double Standard in the Twentieth-Century United States." In James Marten, ed., Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Pomfret, David and Nicholas L. Syrett (forthcoming). "Concepts of Youth." In Kristine Alexander and Simon Sleight, eds., A Cultural History of Youth in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury. 

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2021). "Age Disparity, Marriage, and the Gendering of Heterosexuality." In Rebecca L. Davis & Michele Mitchell, eds., Heterosexual Histories (96-119). New York: New York University Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2020). "Exclusivity, Segregation, and Democracy: Amherst College and its Fraternities." In Martha Saxton, ed., Amherst in the World (pp. 88-101). Amherst: Amherst College Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2020). "Introduction" to "Sex Across the Ages: Restoring Intergenerational Dynamics to Queer History." Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 46 (1): 1-12.

Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett (2020). "Introduction," to "Chronological Age: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis." American Historical Review 125 (2): 370-384. 

Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett (2020). "Age and the Construction of Gendered and Raced Citizenship in the United States." American Historical Review, 125 (2): 438-450.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2020). "Age." In Kevin P. Murphy, Jason Ruiz, & David Serlin, eds., The Routledge History of American Sexuality (pp. 21-31). New York: Routledge.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "Afterword." In Andrew Moisey, The American Fraternity. (pp. 187-191). New York: Daylight Books .

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "'We Are Not So Easily To Be Overcome’: Fraternities on the American College Campus." In Christine A. Ogren & Marc VanOverbeke, eds., Rethinking Campus Life: New Perspectives on the History of Being a College Student in the United States (pp. 137-160). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2018). "Miscegenation Law and the Politics of Mixed-Race Illegitimate Children in the Turn-of-the-Century United States." Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 11 (1), 52-57.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2015). "Statutory Marriage Ages and the Gendered Construction of Adulthood in the Nineteenth Century." In Corinne T. Field & Nicholas L. Syrett, eds., Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (pp. 103-123). New York: New York University Press.

Field, Corinne T. and Nicholas L. Syrett. (2015). "Introduction." In Corinne T. Field & Nicholas L. Syrett, eds., Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (pp. 1-20). New York: New York University Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "Screening the Queer Past: Teaching LGBT History with Documentary Films." In Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, eds., Understanding and Teaching U.S. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender History (pp. 331-342). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "The Contested Meanings of Child Marriage in the Turn-of-the-Century United States." In James Marten, ed., Children and Youth During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (pp. 145-165). New York: New York University Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2014). "Mobility, Circulation, and Correspondence: White Queer Men in the Midcentury Midwest." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 20 (1-2), 75-94.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2013). "Lord of a Hawaiian Island’: Robert and John Gregg Allerton, Queerness, and the Erasure of Colonialism on Kaua‘i." Pacific Historical Review, 82 (3): 396-427.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2013). "'I did and I don’t regret it’: Child Marriage and the Contestation of Childhood in the United States, 1880- 1925." Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 6 (2): 314-331.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2012). "Queering Couplehood: Robert and John Allerton and Historical Perspectives on Kinship." Genders, 55.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2012). "A Busman’s Holiday in the Not-So-Lonely Crowd: Business Culture, Epistolary Networks, and Itinerant Homosexuality in Mid-Twentieth Century America". Journal of the History of of Sexuality, 21 (1): 121-140.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2009). "Who Is Teaching Women’s History?: ‘Insight,’ ‘Objectivity,’ and Identity." In Carol Berkin, Margaret Crocco, & Barbara Winslow, eds., Clio in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching U.S. Women’s History (pp. 267-278). New York: Oxford University Press.

Syrett, Nicholas L. (2007). "The Boys of Beaver Meadow: A Homosexual Community at 1920s Dartmouth College." American Studies, 48(2), 9-18.