Kuefler, Mathew

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Kuefler, Mathew


Education: University of Alberta, B.A., 1982, M.A., 1987; Yale University, M.A., 1992, M.Phil., 1993, Ph.D., 1995.


Office—Department of History, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92182-8147. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, and writer. Red Deer College, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, instructor, 1988-90; Grant MacEwan Community College, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, instructor, 1989-91; University of Alberta, Edmonton, visiting lecturer, 1991-92; University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, visiting lecturer, 1993; Yale University, New Haven, CT, teaching fellow, 1992-95, lecturer, 1995-96, visiting lecturer, 1997-98; Rice University, Houston, TX, visiting lecturer, 1997-98; San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, assistant professor, 1998-2002, associate professor, 2002—. Also assistant director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at Rice University, "The Literary Traditions of Medieval Women," 1997.


American Historical Association, Medieval Academy of America, Medieval Association of the Pacific (member of the Council, 2002-05), Society for French Historical Studies, Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages, Canadian Society for Medievalists, World History Association, Medieval Association of the Pacific, Canadian Association for University Teachers.


Robert Lopez Dissertation Prize in Medieval History, Yale University, 1996; Margaret Wade Labarge Award, Canadian Society of Medievalists, 2002, for The Manly Eunuch. Recipient of fellowships, including doctoral fellowship, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 1991-94; dissertation fellowship, Research Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Yale University, 1994; and Whiting Dissertation Fellowship in the Humanities, Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, 1994-95. Recipient of research grants.


The Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity, and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

(Editor and contributor) The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.

(Editor) The History of Sexuality Sourcebook, Broadview Press (Buffalo, NY), 2007.

Also author of the workbook Get on Board! The Non-Profit Board Development Workbook: A Working Guide to Better Board Development, Edmonton Social Planning Council, 1992. Contributor to books, including A Handbook of Medieval Sexuality, edited by James Brundage and Vern Bullough, Garland Press, 1996; Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages, edited by Carol Braun Pasternack and Sharon Farmer, University of Minnesota Press, 2003; and A Philosophical Encyclopedia, edited by Alan Sobl, Greenwood, 2005. Contributor of articles and book reviews to periodicals, including the Journal of Family History, Journal of Social History, Journal of the History of Sexuality, American Catholic Historical Review, Historian, and Speculum. Editor of Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2005—; member of the editorial board of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, 1996-2000.


Mathew Kuefler is a medievalist historian who specializes in the early Middle Ages, the Mediterranean in late antiquity, and what would become France and England in the Barbarian Era. His scholarship focuses on gender and sexuality, the history of childhood and the family, and gay and lesbian history.

In his book titled The Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity, and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity, Kuefler focuses on how the question of masculinity formed a key part of life in the Roman Empire during the fourth and fifth centuries of the common era. Specifically, he presents his thesis that Christianity eventually overcame its opposition partially by offering a new male sexual identity. "I argue in this book that the notion of masculinity—that is, what it meant to be a man—formed an integral part of the intellectual life of late antiquity and was crucial in the development of Christian ideology," the author writes in his introduction to The Manly Eunuch. "The men of the Roman aristocracy, Christian or not, were driven by a desire to be manly or at least to appear as manly, and that desire informed their daily lives, both public and private, and the content of their religious beliefs."

The author begins by outlining the male identity crisis that occurred with the collapse of the Roman army, and increasingly autocratic government, along with growing restrictions on the traditional rights of men within marriage and sexuality. Because of these occurrences, the Roman aristocracy began to view themselves as less manly because they were losing their identity as soldiers, statesmen, and even the heads of households. Kuefler argues that Christian leaders recognized this identity crisis and responded to it in their early Christian teachings by crafting a new masculine ideal.

"It is a tribute both to Kuefler's command of the ancient sources and to the careful structuring of his book that this strong (even strongly reductive) claim is persuasively argued," wrote Virginia Burrus in the Journal of Religion. David Brakke commented in Church History: "With a persuasive overall thesis, this clearly written and carefully researched book contributes to recent scholarship that questions earlier celebrations of early Christianity as offering new opportunities for women: Kuefler's late ancient Christianity is relentlessly masculine."

Kuefler is also the editor of The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. The book features fifteen scholars of religious and sexuality studies commenting on the impact of John Boswell's 1980 book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, which argued that neither the Bible nor Christian tradition was nearly as hostile to homoeroticism as was generally thought. The essays examine various aspects of Boswell's interpretation of events in the development of sexuality from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages.

Writing in the book's introductory chapter titled "The Boswell Thesis," Kuefler notes that a quarter of a century after the initial publication of Boswell's book "it is time to appraise the impact of the book, to consider the strength of some of its arguments, and to reflect on the different directions the study of sexuality in Antiquity and the Middle Ages has taken since its publication." The author goes on to write in the chapter: "Since 2005 is also the tenth anniversary of John Boswell's death, it seems fitting to reflect more broadly on his career and on the revolutionary ideas that he put forward about the relationship between Christianity and homoeroticism: an opportunity to revisit what I am calling the Boswell Thesis."

Among the specific topics examined by contributors to the book are a Roman emperor's love letters to another man; suspicions of sodomy among medieval monks, knights, and crusaders; and Boswell's discussion of gender-bender visions of Christian saints and mystics. Kuefler's contribution to the book also includes an essay titled "Male Friendship and the Suspicion of Sodomy in Twelfth-Century France." Boswell's career is examined in the book within the context of his influence on gay and lesbian Christians and his role in academic debates.

"A sympathetic collection, the essays nonetheless take seriously epistemological, methodological, and interpretive issues surrounding the Boswell Thesis," wrote Katherine B. Crawford in a review on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. "In so doing, the volume indicates the substantial impact of Boswell's work on the study and interpretation of sexuality in the past." Referring to The Boswell Thesis as "a thoughtful and interesting reflection on the impact and place in history of John Boswell's bold and ambitious" book, Canadian Journal of History contributor Sara M. Butler went on to write in the same review: "An admirable tribute to Boswell's industrious contributions to the field, The Boswell Thesis … has much to offer its readers, and many will find it difficult to put down."

Kuefler is also the editor of The History of Sexuality Sourcebook. This 2007 book addresses sexuality within the context of social customs, ideology, and identity. The book includes essays, poetry, illustrations, and questions for discussion.



Kuefler, Matthew, editor, The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.


American Historical Review, October, 2003, Catharine Edwards, review of The Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity, and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity, p. 1200.

Canadian Journal of History, winter, 2006, Sara M. Butler, review of The Boswell Thesis, p. 537.

Catholic Historical Review, July, 2006, James A. Brundage, review of The Boswell Thesis, p. 281.

Choice, June, 2002, D.J. Livingston, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 1786.

Christian Century, August 22, 2006, review of The Boswell Thesis, p. 41.

Church History, June, 2003, David Brakke, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 389.

Journal of Religion, January, 2003, Virginia Burrus, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 135.

Journal of Religious History, February, 2003, Caroline Vout, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 88.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, December, 2002, Bjorn H. Krondorfer, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 913.

Journal of the History of Sexuality, October, 2002, William N. Bonds, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 683.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2001, review of The Manly Eunuch, p. 17; February, 2008, review of The History of Sexuality Sourcebook.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/reviews/ (May 15, 2008) Katherine B. Crawford, review of The Boswell Thesis.

San Diego State University Department of History Web site,http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/histweb/ (May 15, 2008), faculty profile of author and author's curriculum vitae.