Black and white photo of man with glasses
Benjamin  Kahan 
Assistant Professor
Bachelor's Degree(s): Northwestern
Master's Degree: University of Pennsylvania
PhD: University of Pennsylvania
Phone: (225) 578-3156
Office: 223-D Allen Hall


Benjamin Kahan is an Assistant Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Louisiana State University. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Sydney. He is the author of Celibacies: American Modernism and Sexual Life (Duke University Press, 2013).


Kahan is currently at work on a second book project entitled Sexual Etiologies. This project theorizes an etiological rather than an epistemological approach to the history of sexuality. At its broadest, this project seeks not to rationalize what Eve Sedgwick calls “the unrationalized coexistence of different models of sexuality,” but to understand how their coexistence occurred. Rather than attempting to discover the etiology of sexuality, this book explores how specific etiological bases provide modalities for theorizing sexuality. In other words, Kahan argues that these etiologies which are often dismissed as homophobic or preposterous record now (largely) vestigial models of sexuality. This book aims to develop these models from the catalogue of what Michel Foucault describes as, “minor perverts” who fit “no order.”

Area of Interest

the history of sexuality and gender, queer theory, 20th century American literature and culture, psychoanalysis and sexology, race and ethnicity, critical theory.

Selected Publications



“Antediluvian Sex: Countée Cullen, Christopher Smart, and the Queerness of Uplift” (forthcoming in African American Review)


“The Walk-in Closet: Situational Homosexuality and Homosexual Panic in Hellman’s The Children’s Hour,” Criticism 55.2 (Spring 2013)  


“Queer Modernism” in A Handbook of Modernism Studies, ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté (Wiley-Blackwell, May 2013)


“The Other Harlem Renaissance: Father Divine, Celibate Economics, and the Making of Black Sexuality,” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literatures, Culture, and Theory 65.4 (Winter 2009): 37-61


“The Viper’s Traffic-knot’: Celibacy and Queerness in the ‘Late’ Marianne Moore,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 14.4 (September 2008): 509-535