Dr. Rachel Cleves

Dr. Rachel Cleves

BA (Columbia), MA, PhD (Berkeley)

Area of expertise

American History, History of Sexuality and LGBTQ2S+ History, Food History

Office Hours

Fall 2023: Monday 1:00 - 3:00 pm or by appointment


My love for American history emerged initially from travelling through the United States. To date, I have visited every state except Alaska (and maybe Missouri). I grew up and went to college in New York City, moved to Berkeley, California for graduate school, then taught for four years in Northern Illinois before joining the faculty at UVic in 2009.  I am currently working on “Good Food, Bad Sex,” a history of the perceived connection between hedonic eating and illicit sexuality, from 1750 to the present.

Research website: rachelhopecleves.com

Selected publications


Unspeakable: A Life Beyond Sexual Morality Charity and Sylvia Reign of Terror in America

Unspeakable: A Life Beyond Sexual Morality (University of Chicago Press, 2020)

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

The Reign of Terror in America: Visions of Violence from Anti-Jacobinism to Antislavery (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Edited works

Guest-Editor (along with Averill Earls and Nicholas Syrett): “Intergenerational Sex” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques Special Issue (Spring 2020)

guest editor for “Beyond the Binaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender” Early American Studies Special Issue (Fall 2014)


“Vocabula Amatoria: A Glossary of French Culinary Sex Terms,” American Historical Review (October 2020)

 “The Erotic Poetry of Begué’s Breakfast Register,” Victorian Review (Summer 2020): 187-191

“The Problem of Modern Pederasty in Queer History: A Case Study of Norman Douglas,” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques, (Spring 2020): 47-61

““Companions in labor: Love, Work, and Same-Sex Marriage in the Early United States” in Courtship, Marriage and Marriage Breakdown: Intimate Relations in Historical Context, eds. Katie Barclay, Andrea Thomson and Jeff Meeks (Routledge, 2019) 81-95

““Those Were Dirty Words”: Women, Pleasure, and the History of Food Porn,” Global Humanities, Vol 6 (2019): 15-32 

“Teddy Wolfe’s Beautiful Boys,” in ed. Chris Brickell and Judith Collard, Queer Objects (Rutgers University Press, 2019): 89-93

“Six Ways of Looking at a Trans Man: The Life of Frank Shimer, 1826-1901” The Journal of the History of Sexuality (January 2018): 32-62

“Same-Sex Love Among Early American Women,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (Oxford University Press, 2018)

“Revolutionary Sexualities and Early National Genders (1770s-1840s),” in The Routledge History of Queer America (Routledge, 2018): 27-38

“Philotes in the Kitchen: Norman Douglas’s Friendships with Faith Compton Mackenzie, Elizabeth David, Theodora FitzGibbon and Sybille Bedford” in Norman Douglas: 9.Symposium Bregenz und Thüringen/Vorarlberg 2016 (Vorarlberger Landesbibliothek, 2017) 81-91

“From Pederasty to Pedophilia: Sex Involving Children and Youth in U.S. History,” History Compass (December 2017): 1-9

“‘What, Another Female Husband?’: The Pre-History of Same-Sex Marriage in America” Journal of American History (forthcoming, March 2015)

“Beyond the Binaries in Early America: Special Issue Introduction,” Early American Studies (Fall 2014): 459-468

“A Field of Possibilities: Erotic Variation in Early America” William and Mary Quarterly (July 2013): 581-590.

“Interchange: The War of 1812 and the Creation of the American Republic” [contributor] Journal of American History (September 2012): 520-555.

“Battling the Slaveholders’ ‘Reign of Terror’: Anti-Jacobinism and Abolitionism in the Early American Republic” Annales Historiques de la Revolution Francaise  (March 2011)

“‘Savage Barbarities!’: Slavery, Race, and the Uncivilizing Process in the United States”  Christa Buschendorf and Astrid Franke, eds. American (De)Civilizing Processes (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011) 103-122.

"'Hurtful to the State': The Political Morality of Federalist Antislavery" John Craig Hammond and Matthew Mason, eds. Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation (University of Virginia Press, 2011) 207-226.

“Transatlantic Revolution, National Identity, and American Exceptionalism in the Early Republic” Reviews in American History (December 2011): 607-616.

“‘Heedless Youth’: The Revolutionary War Poetry of Ruth Bryant, 1760-1783” The William and Mary Quarterly (July 2010): 519-548.

“‘Jacobins in this Country’: The United States and the Transatlantic Language of Anti-Jacobinism” Early American Studies (May 2010):410-445.

“On Writing the History of Violence” Journal of the Early Republic (Winter 2004): 641-665.


HSTR 210A The United States to the Civil War
HSTR 210B The United States from Post-War Reconstruction - present
HSTR 302A Revolutionary America and the Early Republic, 1763 - 1815
HSTR 302B Antebellum America and the Civil War, 1815 - 1865
HSTR 305A American Women to 1900
HSTR 305B American Women from 1900 to the Present
HSTR 306 Sex and Power in American History
HSTR 470
From Sodomy to Same‐Sex Marriage: LGBT History in North America