Scott Larson

Scott Larson began doctoral studies at GWU in the fall of 2009. His research focuses on gender and sexuality in late eighteenth-century American culture, and engages queer and transgender theory, religion and secularism, political theory, and literatures of the early Anglophone Atlantic. He is particularly interested in developing interdisciplinary methods of studying gender and sexuality before -- and beyond -- the emergence of modern sexual identities.

Scott’s dissertation, “Enthusiastic Sensations: Religious Revivals, Secular Bodies, and the Making of Modern Sexualities in Early American Culture,” investigates the ways that early evangelical revivals produced erotic experiences such as raptures and fits, and how secular responses to religious “enthusiasm” characterized revivals as sexually dangerous and sensorially disabled.

Scott is the author of the peer-reviewed article “Indescribable Being:” Theological Performances of Genderlessness in the Society of the Publick Universal Friend, 1776-1819” in Journal of Early American Studies 12:3 (Fall 2014). He has presented papers on sexuality, gender, and religion at the annual meetings of the National Women’s Studies Association, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Biblical Literature, as well as at graduate conferences at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the DC Queer Studies Symposium, and at GWU American Studies’ own “Collected Stories” conference.

Scott most recently taught a research seminar entitled “Sexuality in Early American Literary Culture,” and he has acted as a teaching assistant through GWU’s Writing in the Disciplines program for classes including “US Women’s History,” “Early American Cultural History,” “Sexuality in U.S. History,” “Performance and Culture in the Americas,” “U.S.-Middle East Cultural Encounters,” and “Freedom in U.S. Thought and Culture.” In 2012, Scott was honored with the Philip Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award for his work as a teaching assistant.

Prior to coming to George Washington University, Scott received a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale University Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts in Feminist Theory and Religion from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. 

Meet A GA: Scott Larson

Spotlight: PhD Student Scott Larson

What are you studying/ working on right now? 
I am working on my dissertation about gender and embodiment in early American religion and secularity.

What did you study in undergrad and where? 
I studied at Gustavus Adolphus College where I majored in religion and feminist theory. I earned my MA in religion at Yale.

Why American Studies and why GW?
I chose American Studies because it is about the intersection of disciplines. I specifically wanted to look at how gender and religion shape each other. I also knew there was a strong Queer theory program. 

What is your favorite book? 
Leigh Schmidt, Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment (Harvard University Press, 2000)

What is your favorite thing to do in DC? 
Bike. 

What advice would you give to the GW undergrads in American Studies?
Try as much as you can to take classes with people who are surprising and impressive thinkers. Even if it is not in your field.