Recent Interviews

NOTCHES is a collaborative and international history of sexuality blog that aims to get people inside and outside the academy thinking about sexuality in the past and in the present. I was interviewed by the editor and founder of Notches, Justin Bengry, about my new book. The interview identifies and explores the specific academic debates that the book addresses, and also focuses on what’s most original and important (in my opinion) about my findings.

The Ivory Tower Boiler Room is a public humanities podcast for the literary and artistic community, created by Andrew David Rimby of Stony Brook University. I did an interview with him covering a wide range of topics related to Beyond the Law, which can be found by following this link, and then searching for “Upchurch” on that page to find the podcast episode.

I recently did my second interviewed with Neela Debnath, Senior TV Reporter, Daily Express Online, this time about the historical basis for the LGBTQ storyline in the new Netflix series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Click on the image below for the full story.

My Recent Research on YouTube & in the News (updated 6/07/22)

Key findings of my newest book in 35 minutes.

My talk at the 2022 iMagine! Belfast Festival. This talk is based on my newest book, “Beyond the Law”: The Politics Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain (Temple University Press, 2021), which documents the early nineteenth century debate in Britain over the ethics of punishing sex between men, culminating in votes in Parliament in 1835 and 1840-41. On each of these occasions, majorities in the House of Commons approved ending the death penalty for sodomy, even as the reform was blocked in the House of Lords. While the reform itself failed, the opinions preserved by the attempts provide a remarkable and previously unknown way to analyze cultural attitudes towards sex between men in the early nineteenth century. Rather than focus on what was not present in these debates (the modern homosexual identity category as defined in the late nineteenth century) this analysis focuses on the multiple ways various groups of individuals understood what sodomy was, and what constituted an ethical response to it. Arguments were made, in a variety of settings, as to why execution for private consensual sexual conduct was immoral. A leader in the movement to abolish slavery was prominent in these efforts, as were individuals who had family members who were subject to arrest under the laws against sodomy and attempted sodomy. Arguments stemming from utilitarian reform were a part of these debates, but so too were arguments for marital privacy, and the negative impact of the sodomy law on married couples. Playing out over decades, this story involves some of the most prominent individuals of the age, including philosopher legal theorist Jeremy Bentham, novelists William Beckford, Isabella Kelly, and Matthew Gregory Lewis, Lord and Lady Byron, Abolitionist Steven Lushington, future Prime Ministers Lord John Russell and Robert Peel, future Attorney General Fitzroy Kelly, explorer and MP William Bankes, radical politician and publisher William Cobbett, and many others. 

Jeffrey Weeks, author of the first landmark works of LGBTQ history for nineteenth century Britain, has called the book “Convincing and stimulating, Upchurch’s book is grounded in a rich and complex archive and is a triumph of historical detective work. His patient piecing together of quite disparate materials to develop a case strengthens the sense that he is genuinely breaking new ground. ‘Beyond the Law’ is a very important book that will change our understanding of what happened before 1861 when the death penalty for sodomy in England was abolished.” 

Ann Clark, author of numerous books on British gender and sexuality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and former President of the North American Conference on British Studies, writes that “‘Beyond the Law’ reveals hitherto almost unknown efforts to repeal the death penalty for sodomy in the early nineteenth century in England and provides a new interpretation of the 1885 Labouchere Amendment on that topic. Upchurch offers amazing research, new discoveries, and fascinating stories of the people behind these legislative efforts, as well as rich discussions of the tragic persecutions of many men who had sex with men. His book is a very interesting and compelling read.”

I was interviewed by the Express (a national newspaper in the United Kingdom) about the potential for LGBTQ storylines in future seasons of Bridgerton. Click on the image below for the full story.

I gave another talk on my new book at the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (the bookstore in the LGBTQ Center on 13th street in Manhattan) on June 1, 2022. Jonathan Ned Katz did a great job with the Q&A. We got nice coverage of this in one of my favorite queer culture/style blogs, Kenneth in the 212.

My talk, “A Masterclass: Queer HIstory with Prof. Charles Upchurch” at the Manchester Central Library was listed on Visit Manchester as one of the things to do in town for LGBT History Month in 2022. The talk was held before a live audience, as well as webcast.

“Beyond the Law” was featured in the March/April 2022 issue of The Advocate, the nation’s leading LGBTQ news magazine since 1967.

Human Rights and LGBTQ Rights Activist Peter Tatchell endorses Beyond the Law

To get a sense of the amazing work Tatchell has done over the past 50 years in the areas of LGBTQ Rights and Human Rights, check out this great documentary, now on Netflix.

What Would a Queer History of Florida State University Look Like?

My January 2022 talk for the FSU Pride Alumni Network: What Would a Queer History of FSU Look Like? What are the most important developments in the writing of Queer and LGBT history, and how can they be applied to interpreting the queer experience at Florida State? One of the first academic authors of gay and lesbian history earned his PhD at FSU in the early 1970s, and taught some of the first university courses on LGBT history and culture in the nation on our campus. Why isn’t this story better known, and how can we build on this legacy? How can theory help ensure that we write histories that acknowledge the centrality of race, class, gender, and gender identity, while also always foregrounding issues of political power, labor, coercion, and class? Theory is not about making what is simple obscure, but instead about helping us to see mechanisms at work, and lives lived, that may have left only faint traces in the archive, rounding out and completing the evidence that has survived in greater abundance. Join us for a 40-minute illustrated exploration of all of these themes as they relate to FSU’s queer history.

Larry Kramer, founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT UP, and Tony award-winning playwright, wrote a review strongly endorsing my first book, Before Wilde: Sex Between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform (Univ. of California Press, 2009) for the Huffington Post. The review highlights my commitment to basing my arguments on original primary source material.

February 2015 As part of LGBT History Month in the United Kingdom, I gave the first Alan Horsfall Lecture, which opened the National LGBT History Festival. The talk was sponsored by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and was titled “Like Sympathetic Ink: Identity and the Early Nineteenth-Century Attempt to Reform of the British Sodomy Laws.” It was my first presentation of the first piece of the research that would become ‘Beyond the Law’ six years later, and I’m grateful to LGBT History Month UK for the support they gave my work at this early stage.

LGBTQ+ History Bibliography

Clare Barlow, Queer British Art, 1861-1967 (London: Tate Publishing, 2017)

Heike Bauer and Matt Cook, eds., Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of Modern Identity (New York: Vintage, 2015)

Peter Boag, Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest (University of California Press, 2003)

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 1980)

John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (New York: Villard Books, 1994)

Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Jennifer Brier, Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

Michael Bronski, A Queer History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2011)

Bernadette J. Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990)

Judith Butler, Senses of the Subject (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015)

Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (New York: Routledge, 2004)

George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York, Basic Books, 1994)

Howard Chiang, Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia University Press, 2021)

Anna Clark, Alternative Histories of the Self: A Cultural History of Sexuality and Secrets, 1762-1917 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

Anna Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality (New York: Routledge, 2008)

Harry Cocks, Nameless Offences: Speaking of Male Homosexual Desire in Nineteenth-Century England (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003)

Harry Cocks, Visions of Sodom: Religion, Homoerotic Desire, and the End of the World in England, c. 1550-1850 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017

Matt Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Matt Cook, Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth-Century London (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

Douglas Crimp, Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002)

Louis Crompton, Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization (Harvard University Press, 2003)

Faramerz Dabhoiwala, The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012

Orna Alyagon Darr, Plausible Crime Stories: The Legal History of Sexual Offences in Mandate Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

John D’Emilio, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (New York: Free Press, 2003)

Leah DeVun, The Shape of Sex: Nonbinary Gender from Genesis to the Renaissance (Columbia University Press, 2021)

Laura Doan, Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality, and Women’s Experience of Modern War (University of Chicago Press, 2013

Laura Doan, Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture (Columbia University Press, 2001)

Cameron Duder, Awfully Devoted Women: Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900-65 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010)

Vicki L. Eaklor, Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century (Greenwood, 2008)

Anne Enke, Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism (Duke University Press, 2007)

Jennifer Evans, Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sex / Gender: Biology in a Social World (Routledge, 2012)

James Fleming, Sotirios Barber, Stephen Macedo, and Linda McCain, Gay Rights and the Constitution (Foundation Press, 2016)

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978

Holly Furneaux, Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009

Shannon Gilreath and Lydia E Lavelle, Sexual Orientation and Identity: Political and Legal Analysis (St. Paul, MN: West Academic Publishing, 2016)

Christina B. Hanhardt, Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence (Duke University Press, 2013)

Karen V. Hansen, “‘No Kisses Is Like Youres:’ An Erotic Friendship between Two African-American Women during the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Gender and History 7, 2(1994): 153-182.

Dan Healey, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: The Regulation of Sexual and Gender Dissent (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Bruce Henderson, Queer Studies: Beyond Binaries (Harrington Park Press, 2019)

Emily K. Hobson, Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left (University of California Press, 2016)

Rachel Hope Cleves, Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Matt Houlbrook, Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

John Howard, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History (University of Chicago Press, 1999)

Daniel Hurewitz, Bohemian Los Angeles and the Making of Modern Politics (University of California Press, 2007)

Julian Jackson, Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS (University of California Press, 2009)

Dominic Janes, Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750-1900 (University of Chicago Press, 2016

David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (University of Chicago Press, 2006)

Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, Painted Men in Britain, 1868-1918: Royal Academicians and Masculinities (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012)

Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2010)

Regina Kunzel, Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Madeline D. Davis, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community (New York: Routledge, 1993)

Aaron Lecklider, Love’s Next Meeting: The Forgotten History of Homosexuality and the Left in American Culture (University of California Press, 2021)

Martin F. Manalansan, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2003)

Neil McKenna, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (New York: Basic Books, 2005)

Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States

Kevin Mumford, “The Trouble with Gay Rights: Race and the Politics of Sexual Orientation in Philadelphia, 1969-1982” The Journal of American History 91 1(June 2011): 49-72.

Jose Esteban Munoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York University Press, 2019)

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2014)

Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (University of California Press, 2005)

Rictor Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830. revised second edition (Chalfont Press, 2006)

Rictor Norton, ed., Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook,

Harry Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature: Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000

Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post-Humanist Critique (New York University Press, 2016)

Michael Roche, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (Oxford Univ. Press, 1996)

Sheila Rowbotham, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (New York: Verso, 2009)

Leila Rupp, “The Persistence of Transnational Organizing: The Case of the Homophile Movement,” The American Historical Review 116, 4(2011): 1014-1039.

Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (University of California Press, 2012)

Nayan Shah, Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality, and the Law in the North American West (University of California Press, 2011)

Todd Shepard, Sex, France and Arab Men: 1962-1979 (University of Chicago Press, 2017)

Yorick Smaal, Sex, Soldiers and the South Pacific, 1939-45: Queer Identities in Australia in the Second World War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt, eds., Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography (Amsterdam University Press, 2021)

Peter N. Stearns, Sexuality in World History (New York: Routledge, 2009)

Marc Stein, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972 (University of Chicago Press, 2000)

Marc Stein, Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement (Routledge, 2012)

Timothy Stewart-Winter, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)

Charles Upchurch, Before Wilde: Sex Between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2009)

Charles Upchurch, “Beyond the Law”: The Politics of Ending the Death Penalty for Sodomy in Britain (Temple University Press, 2021)

Martha Vicinus, Intimate Friends: Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004

Jerry T. Watkins, Queering the Redneck Riviera: Sexuality and the Rise of Florida Tourism (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2018)

Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800, third edition (New York: Pearson, 2012)

Craig Williams, Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)

James F. Wilson, Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies: Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011)

This list was compiled by Charles Upchurch, based on the works he has used or recommended in his LGBTQ History course, taught most semesters at Florida State University. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions

Reading List for Early Modern (Tudor/Stuart) England

Politics/Political Theory/Constitutional History

Burgess, Glenn. Absolute Monarchy and the Stuart Constitution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Burgess, Glenn. The Politics of the Ancient Constitution: An Introduction to English Political Thought, 1603-1642. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.

Cogswell, Thomas. The Blessed Revolution: English Politics and the Coming of War, 1621-1624. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Cromartie, Alan. The Constitutionalist Revolution: An Essay on the History of England, 1450-1642. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Dean, David. Law-making and Society in Late Elizabethan England: The Parliament of England, 1584-1601. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Elton, G. R. The Tudor Constitution: Documents and Commentary, 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Hammer, Paul E. J. The Polarisation of English Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Harris, Tim and Stephen Taylor, ed. The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688-91 in their British, Atlantic and European Contexts. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2013.

Kesselring, K.J. Mercy and Authority in the Tudor State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Little, Patrick and David L. Smith. Parliaments and Politics during the Cromwellian Protectorate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Loades, David. Power in Tudor England. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

Orr, D. Treason and the State: Law, Politics and Ideology in the English Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Paul, Joanne. Counsel and Command in Early Modern English Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Rose, Jacqueline. Godly Kingship in Restoration England: The Politics of the Royal Supremacy, 1660-1688. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Sommerville, J.P. Politics and Ideology in England, 1603-1640. New York: Longman, 1986.

Williams, Penry. The Tudor Regime. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.


Hoyle, R.W. The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Wood, Andy. The 1549 Rebellions and the Making of Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Pincus, Steve. 1688: The First Modern Revolution (Yale University Press, 2011)

Hill, Christopher. The World Turned Upside Down:  Radical Ideas in the English Revolution (Penguin, 1972)

The Early Tudors

Gunn, Steven, Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Starkey, David. The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics. London: Vintage, 1985.

Political Culture

Colclough, David. Freedom of Speech in Early Stuart England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hoak, Dale, ed. Tudor Political Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Knights, Mark. Politics and Opinion in Crisis, 1678-81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

McLaren, A. N. Political Culture in the Reign of Elizabeth I: Queen and Commonwealth 1558-1585. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Peacey, Jason. Print and Public Politics in the English Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Raymond, Joad. Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Underdown, David. Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Social History and English Society

Beier, A.L. Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560-1640. London: Methuen, 1985.

Braddick, Michael J., and John Walter, ed., Negotiating Power in Early Modern Society: Order, Hierarchy and Subordination in Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Ingram, Martin. Carnal Knowledge: Regulating Sex in England, 1470-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Miller, Helen. Henry VIII and the English Nobility. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.

Slack, Paul. From Reformation to Improvement: Public Welfare in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

English Reformation

Bernard, G.W. The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Gunther, Karl. Reformation Unbound: Protestant Visions of Reform in England, 1525-1590. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Haigh, Christopher. English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Shagan, Ethan. Popular Politics and the English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


Hunt, Arnold. The Art of Hearing: English Preachers and their Audiences, 1590-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Johnstone, Nathan. The Devil and Demonism in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Walsham, Alexandra. Providence in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

War and Foreign Policy

Gunn, Steven. The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

McDermott, James. England and the Spanish Armada: The Necessary Quarrel. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Pincus, Steve. Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.


Braddick, Michael. The Nerves of State: Taxation and the Financing of the English State, 1558-1714. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996.

Carruthers, Bruce G. City of Capital: Politics and Markets in the English Financial Revolution (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996)

Erikson, Emily. Between Monopoly and Free Trade the English East India Company, 1600-1757, Princeton Analytical Sociology Series (Princeton: Princeton University Pres, 2014)

Roseveare, Henry. The Financial Revolution, 1660-1750. Seminar Studies in History. Oxon England: Routledge, 2013.

England in the Atlantic World

Armitage, David. The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Dunn, Richard. Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

Games, Alison. The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660 (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Hannah, Mark. Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740 (University of North Carolina Press, 2017)

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. The Jamestown Project (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007)

Winship, Michael. Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018.

This bibliography was compiled by Cody Nicholson, who has an MA in European history from Florida State University and a BA in history from the University of West Florida. He currently teaches history courses at North West Florida State College.