Associate Professor of American Studies
Chad Heap’s work examines the relationship between sexuality and the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is particularly interested in how urban culture and space helped shape Americans’ understanding of sexual practices and identities and contributed to the emergence of new sexual communities.
His first book, Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 2009), shows how this distinctive cultural practice transformed the popular conceptualization of racial and sexual difference in turn-of-the-century U.S. cities. He argues that slumming not only created spaces where affluent whites could cross preconceived racial and sexual boundaries but also contributed significantly to the emergence and codification of a new twentieth-century hegemonic social order—one that was structured primarily around an increasingly polarized white/black racial axis and a hetero/homo sexual binary that were defined in reciprocal relationship to one another. (Slumming was one of three finalists for the 2010 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction presented by The Publishing Triangle, the Association of Lesbians and Gay Men in Publishing.)
A scholar of U.S. social, cultural and urban history, Professor Heap has chaired dissertations focused on the sub/urbanization of country music and Nashville's country music industry; African American consumer culture in interwar Washington, DC; and the discursive representation of suburban dangers in the 1970s and '80s.
He is the recipient of a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Newberry Library in Chicago, a Sexuality Research Dissertation Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council with funds provided by the Ford Foundation, and the James C. Hormel Dissertation Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies from the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago. He has also been a visiting scholar at New York University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.