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Sean Cosgrove

Graduate Student

Sean Cosgrove

Educational Background

MA, History, Cornell University, 2016.

MA, Social Sciences (History and Anthropology), University of Chicago, 2012.

BA, History and English Literature, University of Sydney, 2009


I’m an historian of the modern United States, with a particular emphasis on cultural histories of sexuality, violence, and Whiteness (and their varied intersections). 

My current project is a spatial history of desire arguing that significant re-orientations in sexual desire took place in the United States at the turn of the century, enabling and enabled by not just the construction of the new sexed and sexual body, but by new urban spaces, and new forms of political organisation. Focussing on a now long forgotten popular culture icon from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, this research engages queer theory, spatial theory, and cultural history to better understand how forms of heterosexual desire, in particular, became naturalised and invisible in contemporary America.

My teaching interests are capacious, spanning histories of the United States from the Civil War to the present, with emphases on gender and sexuality, race, urban spaces, violence, and science and medicine. As a first generation college student myself, my teaching remains steadfastly anchored to inclusivity, diversity, and demystifcation of higher education, whether on college campuses, in correctional facilities, community spaces, or high schools. 

Currently, I’m residing in Washington, D.C., teaching at the Cornell in Washington program where I supervise semester-long research projects by both undergraduate and graduate students on a diverse array of subjects.


Advisor:  Derek Chang


Modern U.S. History; Cultural History; American Studies; Histories of Gender & Sexuality; Histories of Medicine & Science; Histories of Violence


  • History