Ormsbee, J. Todd

Prof. O at Ocean Beach in San Francisco

Humanities Department Chair
Professor of American Studies


Preferred: todd.ormsbee@sjsu.edu


Preferred: (415) 605-9689 [call or text]

Office Hours

MWTh 10:00-16:00 in Clark 419F


  • Ph.D. in American Studies from University of Kansas, 2004
  • M.A. in American Studies from University of Kansas, 1998


Faculty Positions

Professor of American Studies San José State University; San José, Ca, Aug. 2021 to present

Associate Professor of American Studies San José State University; San José, CA, 2011 to present

Adjunct to SociologySan José State University; San José CA, 2009-11

Assistant Professor of American StudiesSan José State University; San José, CA, 2005 to 2011

Lecturer Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, 2004 to 2005

Lecturer Department of Sociology, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, 2005

Lecturer American Studies Program, San José State University; San José, CA, 2005

Lecturer Department of History, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, 2002 to 2003

Instructor Liberal Studies Department, Art Institute of California—San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, 2002 to 2005

Visiting Professorship (by Invitation)

Lecturer Summer Humanities Program” of the Dekanat der Philosophischen Fakultät, Universität Mannheim—Mannheim, Germany; “American Popular Culture and the Reproduction of Inequality” [race, class, & gender]; August 2015




The Meaning of Gay: Interaction, Community and Publicity among Homosexual Men in 1960s San Francisco (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2010). 


“The Trouble with Elitism: William Deresiewicz’s Partial Critique of Neoliberal Higher Education in the United States” in Joseph DeVitis, editor, The Future of American Higher Education: How Today's Public Intellectuals Frame the Debate (Gorham, Maine: Myers Education Press, 2021): 68-81.

‘Like a Chord Snapping’: Toward a Grounded Theory of How Devout Mormons Leave the LDS Church. Critical Research in Religion. June 2020. doi:10.1177/2050303220924096

“The Cheerful Robots of Academia: Intellectual Craftsmanship in the Neoliberal University,” in Philosophy of Education Yearbook (2017): 302-315.

 “The Tragedy and Hope of Love between Gay Men: Boys in the Band and the Emotionality of Gay Love in the 1960s and 1970s,” in Matthew Bell, editor, The Boys in the Band: Flashpoints of Cinema, History, and Queer Politics (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2016): 266-291.

 “Overcoming Domination through Self-Representation: Gay Men’s Experience in 1960s San Francisco” in Social Thought and Research 26:1 & 2 (2005)

Current Scholarly projects:

A Week of Friendship: Reconsidering Thoreau as a Gay Philosopher (currently writing)

“Levinas and the Question of Politics versus Jewish Ethics” (currently researching)

Conference Presentations 

Panel Organizer & Discussant: “Society & Political Praxis within Theories of Queerness”; Society for the Study of Social Problems, New York, NY, August 2019.

Panel Organizer & Discussant: “Abolitionist Theory and Sexual Justice”; Society for the Study of Social Problems, Philadelphia, PA, August 2018. 

“‘I’d Rather Swish than Fight’: Camp Narrative, Musical Beauty, and Gay Politics of the 1960s”; Society for the Study of Social Problems, Montréal, Québec, Canada, August 2017.

“The Cheerful Robots of Academia:
 Intellectual Craftsmanship in the Neoliberal University”; Philosophy of Education Society, Seattle, WA, March 2017. 

“Gay Love and Experience: Gay Men & Boys in the Band in 1960s San Francisco”; Modern Languages Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, January 2015.

“Toward a Theory of a Queer Desire to Parent”; National Women’s Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 2014.

 “Is All Love Really the Same?: Queer Men’s Relational Emotions in the Age of ‘Gay Marriage’”; Society for the Study of Social Problems, New York, NY, August 2013.

“‘Like a Chord Snapping’: Emotion and Emotionality of Leaving Mormonism”; Midwest Sociological Society, Minneapolis, MN, March 2012.

“Withdrawal from Mormonism: Toward a Model of the Psycho-Social Processes of Leaving a Tightly Scripted Religious Community”; Midwest Sociological Society, St. Louis, MO, March 2011

“Unbelief among Ex-Mormons: The Psycho-Social Process of Losing Belief in God”; Pacific Sociological Association, Seattle, WA, March 2011.

“As Sexual Cultures Collide: Thinking about the Historical Transformations of Sexuality in the Age of Globalism”; Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, Palo Alto, CA, August 2006

“Effective Freedom, Self-Realization, and Democratic Community: An LGBT Perspective”; Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy [American Pragmatism], March 2005.

“Knowledge, Experience and Desire in LGBT Theories:  From Cultural Theory to Cultural Method”; American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 2004.

“‘For Those in Our Community’:  Discursive Strategies of Gay Male Community Building in The LCE News, 1961-2 San Francisco”; American Studies Association, Houston, TX, November 2002.

“For the Eternal Plan of Happiness:  Mormonism, the Construction of the Eternal Family, and the Ex-Gay Movement”; Midwest Sociological Society, Chicago, IL, April 2000.

“The Erotics of Family Values and the Formation of Ex-Gay Subjectivity”; Mid-America American Studies Association, Kansas City, MO, March 2000.

“Disappearing Acts: American Studies, Sexual Discourse, and Queerness”; Mid-America American Studies Association, Iowa City, IA, March 1998

Professional & Scholarly Service

Chair of the Sexual Behavior, Politics, and Communities Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, January 2018 to January 2021

Local Arrangements Committee for Society for the Study of Social Problems, 2014 Conference in San Francisco 

Encyclopedia Entries

“Scholarship and Academic Study, GLBTQ,” in The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture, edited by David Gerstner, (Routledge: New York, 2006).

“The Commodity” in Material Culture in America: Understanding Everyday Life, eds. Miriam Forman-Brunell, Helen Sheumaker, and Shirley Wajda (New York: ABC-CLIO, 2002).


Book Reviews

Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin, editors, Peculiar Portrayals: Mormons on the Page, Stage, and Screen. Reviewed for American Studies, Fall 2011.

Benjamin Shepard, Queer Political Performance and Protest: Play, Pleasure and Social Movement. Reviewed in Contemporary Sociology, October 2010.

Timothy Hodgdon, Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Counter-Culture Commmunities. Reviewed in American Studies, Summer 2010

Eithne Lulbhéld and Lionel Cantú Jr, editors. Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings. Reviewed in American Studies, Summer 2006.

David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.  Reviewed in American Studies, Fall 2004.

Nan A. Boyd, Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965.  Reviewed in Western Historical Quarterly,Summer 2004.



Courses Taught (alphabetical, L=first-year/sophomore, U=junior/senior level)

Animals & Society (U)

American Civilization to 1865 (L)

American Culture(s) to 1877 (L)

American Civilization, 1865-Present (L)

American Culture(s) 1877-Present (L)

American Dream [social inequality in the U.S.] (U)

American Popular Culture (U)

Consumerism and Mass Culture in the United States [Senior Seminar] (U)

Crossing Borders: Explorations in Mexican America [Senior Seminar] (U)

Cultural History of Love [Special Topics] (U)

Cultural Studies (L)

The Fantastical Worlds of 20th Century America [Special Topics] (U)

History of Sexuality in the U.S. (U)

How the World Sees the U.S. (U)

Introduction to Cultural Theory (U)

Introduction to the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture (L)

Introduction to Sociology (L)

A Life Worth Living (U) [Special Topics]

Nature and World Cultures (U)

Queer Arts (L)

Race, Ethnicity, and Culture [Special Topics] (U)

Reading the World (L)

Religion and Political Controversy in the U.S. (U)

Senior Research Seminar (U)

Social Psychology (U)

Social Theory (U)

Special Topics (U)

Stories that Made America (L)

U.S. History, 1865 to present (L)

Western Civilization I & II (L)

World Conflict [sociology of globalization] (L)

World History to 1500 (L)

World History, 1500 to present (L)

Writing for Interdisciplinary Humanities (U)


Guest Lectures & Panels (Invited)

“Queer Rights in 1960s San Francisco” with Prof. Steve Rouse of Pepperdine, tour and in situ dialogues with students; part of Year 2 Malibu: San Francisco Experience; Pepperdine University, Spring 2022.

“Introduction to Queer Theory” delivered to Ruby Ramirez, WLL???, San José State University, Spring 2020.

 Hammer Theater, Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration 2018, invited panelist, “Frankenstein Goes to the Movies.” October 2018.

SJSU event: Animals & Justice: Scholarly Perspectives on Animals and Justice, invited panelist, “Exploring the Ethics and Aesthetics of Human-Animal Interactions through Literature & Philosophy.” Sponsored by MOSAIC, April 2018.

SJSU Constitution Day, panelist, “Same-Sex Marriage: How Has the Supreme Court Decision Changed Us?” College of Social Sciences, Sept. 2015

“Conservative Evangelicalism and the ‘Gay Agenda’: Religion, Politics, and Sexuality in the United States, 1950 to the Present.” Delivered to Shantanu Phukan, RELS162: Religion and Political Controversy, San José State University, Fall 2012.

“Gay Men and Collective Stigma Management, 1950s-1960s” delivered to Brian Grossman, Social Deviance, San Francisco State University, Summer 2011.

“Nature & Culture” and “Culture & Society” delivered to SCI2: Success in Science, Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010.


Community & Public Scholarship (Invited)

Guest Speaker, The Atheist Community of San José, April 2015: “Beyond Belief: Understanding the Breadth of Religion to Enable Fruitful Alliances between Non-believers & the Religious” 

Guest Teacher, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco, June 2014: “What Makes American Judaism Different: Colonial America & Jewish Innovation” 

Special Speaker, Gay Buddhist Fellowship of San Francisco, April 7, 2013: “Religious Conversion, De-Conversion, Disaffiliation, and Blended Spiritualities” 

Keynote Speaker, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of A Common Bond (ACB) [organization for LGBT Jehovah’s Witnesses], October 10, 2009: “Rebuilding a Meaningful Life: Self & Community for GLBTs from Alternative Religious Backgrounds”


Academic Service

Student Service

Major Advisor, Department of Humanities, American Studies Concentration, August 2018 to present

Major Advisor, Department of Humanities, Liberal Arts Concentration, May 2016 to May 2020, and August 2022 to present

Keynote Speaker, Humanities Department Convocation 2017: “Loafing, Boats, and Brujas: Creating a Meaningful Life in Today’s America”

Guest Speaker, ASPIRE program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds: “What Are Professors and What Do They Want from Students?” July 2014

Master Thesis Committee, Department of Sociology, for Henry J. Zonio, 2012-2013: “Having Fun about Jesus: Children’s Constructions of Their Relationship to Church” [Susan Murray, thesis chair]

McNair Scholarship Faculty Mentor, SJSU, Dec. 2012 to 2014 (still affiliated but not currently mentoring a student)

Faculty Advisor, Student Secular Association, San José State University, Fall 2011 to present

Faculty Advisor, QTIP [gay and lesbian student group], San José State University, 2008-09, 2007-08,


University Service

SJSU RSCA Probationary Faculty and Lecturer Selection Committee, April 2018

SJSU Academic Senate, College of Humanities and Arts Representative, May 2016 to May 2019

SJSU Organization & Governance Committee, Academic Senate, May 2016 to May 2019

SJSU Human Rights Working Group, January 2016 to present [group was on long hiatus while the Center was set up on campus]

SJSU RSCA Grants for Assistant Professors, Selection Committee, Spring 2013 

SJSU General Education Assessment and Accreditation, Area-V (World Cultures) Committee, 2010


College Service

College of Humanities and Arts, Sabbatical and Leave Committee, 2018-19

College of Humanities & Arts, Student Success Center Advisor Search Committee, June 2018

College Curriculum Committee, College of Humanities, San José State University, 2008-2009


Department Service

Chair of Humanities Department, San José State University, San José, CA, Aug. 2023 to present

Chair of Hiring Committee, Liberal Studies Teacher Preparation, 2022-23

Retention, Tenure & Promotion Committee, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2015-6, 2017-8, 2018-9, 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2022-23

American Studies Coordinator, Department of Humanities, San José State University, August 2018 to present

Departmental Operating Committee, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2016 to present

Hiring Committee, Liberal Studies Teacher Preparation, 2019-20

Chair of Department Chair Review Committee, Spring 2019

Hiring Committee, American Studies-Literature Joint Hire, 2018-19

Curriculum Design, new course: HUM80 Reading the World, 2018-19

Faculty Mentor to Junior Faculty for RTP (assigned), Department of Humanities, 2018 to present

Humanities Program Assessment Coordinator, Department of Humanities, San José State University, Spring 2018 to Spring 2020 

Curriculum Design, new course: CA95 Queer Arts, 2017-18

Liberal Arts Concentration Coordinator, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2016 to Spring 2020

Departmental Assessment of the Humanities Major, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2015-6

Acting Coordinator, American Studies Program, Department of Humanities, San José State University, Spring 2013 & Fall 2008

Curriculum Revision Committee for Majors and Minors, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2009-11

Department Curriculum Committee, Department of Humanities, San José State University, 2013-14, 2012-13, 2011-12, 2010-2011, 2009-10, 2007-08, 2006-07, 2005-06