Rigorous, dedicated, inspiring, engaging and inclusive are words used by students to describe Associate Professor Amanda Littauer. Teaching in both the Department of History and in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Littauer’s curriculum requires creating a welcoming learning environment centered on diversity of perspectives and mutual respect for students often grappling with complicated and controversial subjects.
“I identify as a queer feminist scholar committed to LGBTQ history,” Littauer says. “And not just for the sake of knowledge, but also as a source of intergenerational understanding, community solidarity, and human connection across differences of time, place and experience. Fostering a sense of belonging, autonomy, historical consciousness and pride among my LGBTQ students is one of the most meaningful purposes of my work.”
Senior Gabriel Sonntag, a history major from Chicago who has taken five courses with Littauer, says it was her significant one-on-one help with course readings and core concepts during his first year that “helped me grow as a student.”
"Dr. Littauer took additional time to make sure I gained a concrete comprehension of the material. Her feedback reassured me when I understood the material and steered me on the right track when I misinterpreted it,” says Sonntag. “In the end, I succeeded largely due to her teaching methods and care for students.”
Kristen Myers, director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, says Littauer is indispensable both to the program and “one of the fastest-changing fields in academia today.”
“Amanda knows that we cannot affect students, the community and the discipline if we lag behind,” says Myers. “She, herself, would never become intellectually, socially or politically complacent.”
Littauer’s first book, Bad Girls: Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties (University of North Carolina Press, 2015) is assigned in university classes around the nation and has received a wide range of positive reviews. The new Routledge History of Queer America (Routledge, 2018) includes a chapter that she wrote on postwar America, called “Sexual Minorities at the Apex of Heteronormativity (1940s-1965).”
Her current research focuses on the everyday lives of youth who felt different because of their sexuality and/or gender in the 1940s through the early 1980s, before there were social services and gay/straight alliances available to support their needs.
“One of my favorite aspects of the work is interviewing people over the age of 50 who have relevant memories about their childhood and teenage years—and including several students as observers and transcribers of the interviews,” Littauer says.
Littauer is a recipient of the Northern Illinois University Research, Artistry, and Diversity Grant and the Northern Illinois University Research and Artistry Fellowship, as well as the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center’s Eychaner Award. She has served on the university’s Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, and the Committee on Academic Excellence and Inclusive Equity, among others. She also served a three-year term as an elected co-chair of the Committee on LGBT History, an affiliate of the American Historical Association.
Littauer received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California at Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Cornell University in a self-designed honors major called Race, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary America.