Margot Canaday

Professor of History
Office Phone
229 Dickinson Hall
Office Hours
Wednesday: 2:30 pm-4:30 pm
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Margot Canaday is a legal and political historian who studies gender and sexuality in modern America. She holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her first book, The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth Century America (Princeton, 2009), won the Organization of American Historians' Ellis Hawley Prize, the American Political Science Association's Gladys M. Kammerer Award (co-winner), the American Studies Association's Lora Romero Prize, the American Society for Legal History's Cromwell Book Prize, the Committee on LGBT History's John Boswell Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies, as well as the Association of American Law Schools' Order of the Coif Biennial Book Award. Canaday has won fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Princeton University Society of Fellows, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. With Thomas Sugrue, Stephen Pitti, Matt Lassiter, and Keisha Blain, she is co-editor of the series Politics and Culture in Modern America at the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Current Projects

Queer Career: Sexuality and Work in Modern America (Princeton University Press, expected January 2023).

Professor Canaday's current research shifts her focus from the state to the economy and takes on the idea that twentieth-century workplaces were part of the "straight world"–zones in which LGBT people historically disappeared. This study will draw on business, labor, and legal records, as well as memoirs and oral histories, to demonstrate by contrast how workplaces mattered to queer lives in the past.

Teaching Interests

Professor Canaday’s teaching interests include gender and women’s history, the history of sexuality, the history of work/labor, as well as American political and legal history. While at Princeton, she has taught seminars on the history of the American state, on work and inequality, on the history of women, gender, and sexuality, and on the twentieth-century United States. She regularly offers an undergraduate lecture course on gender and sexuality in modern America, and is currently developing an undergraduate seminar on feminist intellectual history (Wollstonecraft to Butler).

Selected Articles

"Intimate Matters at 25: Reflections on the History of Sexuality," Frontiers 35, No 1. (2014).

“Thinking Sex in the Transnational Turn: An Introduction,” American Historical Review 114 (December 2009).

“Heterosexuality as a Legal Regime,” in Michael Grossberg and Christopher Tomlins, eds., The Cambridge History of Law in America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

“Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship under the 1944 G.I. Bill,” The Journal of American History 90 (December 2003).

Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Gender & Sexuality
Labor History
Legal History
Political History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
20th Century
North America
United States