Professor Barry Gordon Reay

BA (Adelaide), DPhil (Oxford)

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Keith Sinclair Professor


  • Professor of History

Research | Current

  • History of sex

Barry Reay is writing two books. One is called Trans America: A Counter History, commissioned by Polity Press, which will rethink the history of transsexuality and transgender in modern America. This project represents ongoing research collaboration with Nina Attwood and Claire Gooder, two former graduate students (now with PhDs) who worked with Barry Reay on (the Polity Press book) Sex Addiction: A Critical History (2015). The envisaged methodology will combine visual and written material, from medical and psychiatric publications, autobiographies and diaries, to photography, art, film and a range of popular cultural artefacts. The other book, contracted with Manchester University Press, is called Sex in the Archives: Writing American Sexual Histories, and will be a mix of previously published essays and new work. The subject topics covered are wide-ranging: rethinking the art history of homoeroticism; casual sex before casual sex; trans history; New York queer sex; masturbation; pornography; and Baltimore’s sexual cultures. The duality indicated by the book’s title reflects its two principal themes. It is an experiment in writing an American sexual history that refuses the confines of identity sexuality studies, spanning the spectrum of queer, trans, and the allegedly ‘normal’. What unites this project is a fascination with sex at the margins, sex that refuses the classificatory frameworks of heterosexuality and homosexuality; and that demonstrates gender and sexual indecision and flexibility. And the book is also an exploration of the role of the archive in such histories, for the sex discussed here is often located in the margins of the archives too.

Teaching | Current

HISTORY 102 Sexual Histories: Western Sexualities from Medieval to Modern Times

HISTORY 206 Making Sex: Modern Histories of Sex

HISTORY 306 Making Sex: Modern Histories of Sex

Postgraduate supervision

Current supervisions


  • Lily Emerson, "From Sadomasochism to BDSM: The Making of a Sexual Category"


  • Alysha Crossan, "Psychoanalysis and Behavioural Therapy: Treating Homosexuality in the 20th Century"

Recent supervisions


  • Claire Gooder, "A History of Sex Education in New Zealand, 1939-1985" (2010)
  • Nina Attwood, "Writing the Prostitute: Representations of Prostitution in Victorian England" (2008)
  • Felicity Barnes, "New Zealand's London: The Metropolis and New Zealand's Culture, 1890-1940" (2008)
  • Antje Braren [Kampf], "To Map Out the 'Veneral Wilderness': A History of Veneral Diseases in and Public Health in New Zealand, 1920-1980" (2005)


  • Branka Bogdan, "Creating the Sexual Outlaw: Representing Sex in Art and Literature in Modern America" (2013)
  • Jennie Taylor, "Sex, Snobs and Swing: Mass Observation's Representations of Dancing, England, 1937-1941" (2007)
  • Laurel Flinn, "'Men Well Worthy of Good Esteem': Representations of Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century British Working-Class Autobiographies" (2004)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Reay, B. (2019). Sex in the Archives Writing American sexual histories. Oxford University Press.
  • Reay, B. (2018). Samuel Steward and the Pursuit of the Erotic: Sexuality, Literature, Archives. JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, 27 (3), 499-501.
  • Reay, B. (2018). THE SEX ADDICT. In C. Smith, F. Attwood (Eds.) (pp. 352-361). ROUTLEDGE.
  • Reay, B. (2018). The Straight Line: How the Fringe Science of Ex-Gay Therapy Reoriented Sexuality. GLQ-A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN AND GAY STUDIES, 24 (1), 159-161. 10.1215/10642684-4254567
  • Reay, B. (2016). The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY-ANNALES CANADIENNES D HISTOIRE, 51 (3), 590-591.
  • Reay, B. (2016). Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America [Book Review]. Journal of American History, 103 (3), 765-766. 10.1093/jahist/jaw390
  • Reay, B. (2016). The secrets of generation: Reproduction in the long eighteenth century, edited by Raymond Stephanson and Darren N. Wagner [Book review]. Canadian Journal of History, 51 (3), 590-591. 10.3138/cjh.ach.51.3.rev14
  • Reay, B. G. (2016). The body as amusement park: a history of masturbation. Aeon Related URL.


Contact details

Primary office location

ARTS 1 - Bldg 206
Level 7, Room 731
New Zealand

Web links