Ormsbee, J. Todd

Ormsbee, J. Todd

Assoc Professor, Humanities
Associate Professor American Studies


Preferred: todd.ormsbee@sjsu.edu


Preferred: (408) 924-4544

Office Hours

Fall 2011: W 10:30-12:00, 13:00-15:00; or by appointment; or by online chat


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Univ Of Kansas Main Campus, 2004
  • Master of Arts, American Studies, Univ Of Kansas Main Campus, Kansas, United States, 1998


I'm an interdisciplinary scholar by training and temperament, but my research and thinking are most closely allied with sociology. My courses lie to the traditionally academic side, pushing students to develop ideas and thoughts grounded in facts, and to think analytically about cultural and social issues. I do this in the classroom by combining straight-forward transmission of knowledge with intellectual problem-solving, asking students to apply and evaluate historical and theoretical data and ideas by putting them "to work" solving problems the students observe in society today.

In my research, I am currently coding data from interviews conducted last winter of individuals who have left Mormonism and now consider themselves to no longer be Mormons and who are generally now in a state of unbelief (agnostic or atheist). I am working on two separate articles from the data. The first uses grounded theory methodology to create a theory of the psycho-social processes of leaving a tightly scripted religion, such as Mormonism. The second article will follow an unexpected vein in the data: the role that emotions and the interpretation of emotions play in ex-mormons transformation from belief to unbelief. The sociology of emotions is new to me and an exciting and rich topic. As always, my analysis is through the lens of symbolic interaction.

My first book, out in March 2010 (after years of nail-biting and revisions), treats the development of gay male publicity and community formation in 1960s San Francisco through a symbolic interactionist lens.

By nature, teaching and researching in the social sciences and humanities touches on areas of deep personal and social concern; so I try to be as critical as possible of my own values and work to envision pragmatic, outcome-based solutions to real problems instead of being driven by ideology.

Research and Teaching Interests
• Social and Cultural Theory
• Sociology and History of Sexuality
• Cultural Sociology, Symbolic Interaction, & Social Psychology
• Comparative-Historical Sociology & Social History of the United States
• Immigration and Global Migration
• Human Evolution & Cognitive Science as they relate to Social Theory and Human Interaction

Academic Employment History
• Associate Professor of American Studies San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, August 2011 to present
• Assistant Professor of American Studies, San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, August 2005 to present
• Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Sociology, San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, Spring 2009
• Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, August 2004 to May 2005
• Lecturer, Department of Sociology, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, January 2005 to May 2005
• Lecturer, American Studies Program, San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, January 2005 to May 2005
• Lecturer, Department of History, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, August 2002 to August 2003
• Instructor, Liberal Studies Department, Art Institute of California—San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, July 2002 to March 2005
• Instructor, Western Civilization Program, University of Kansas; Lawrence, KS, August 1996 to July 2000

Courses Taught 1996 to Present
American Civilization to 1865 (SJSU)
American Civilization, 1865 to Present (SJSU)
American Dream [Self, Society, and Inequality] (SJSU)
America from the Outside (SJSU)
American Popular Culture (SJSU)
Consumerism and Mass Culture in the United States [Senior Seminar] (SJSU)
Crossing Borders: Explorations in Mexican America [Senior Seminar]
Cultural Studies (AICA-SF)
History of Sexuality in the United States (KU)
Introduction to Sociology (USF & SFSU)
Nature and World Cultures [sociology and anthropology of the environment] (SJSU)
Religion and Political Controversy in the U.S. (SJSU)
Social Psychology (USF)
Social Theory (USF & SJSU)
U.S. History, 1865 to present (SFSU)
Western Civilization to 1500 (KU)
Western Civilization 1500 to present (KU)
World Conflict [sociology of globalization] (AICA-SF)
World History to 1500 (SFSU)
World History, 1500 to present (SFSU)
Writing for the Humanities (SJSU)