Ryan Murphy, Ph.D.

Associate professor of history; associate professor of women's, gender, sexuality studies

Email:[email protected]

Department: History
Peace and Global Studies
Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Location: Landrum Bolling Center, Room 324
801 National Road
Richmond, Indiana 47274

About me

I teach labor history, history of sexuality, urban history, and intellectual history. I am the author of Deregulating Desire: Flight Attendant Activism, Family Politics, and Workplace Justice, which received the 2017 David Montgomery award for best book in labor history from the Organization of American Historians. I am currently at work on a new project, Teamsters Metropolis, which explores union activists’ fraught relationship to kinship, family, and desire in the neighborhoods of 1950s U.S. cities.

I founded a queer arts and cultural center in Minneapolis during my time as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. Making queer culture is even more important to me than studying it, and thus I have been involved in the queer scene in both Minneapolis and my previous home town of San Francisco.

I was a flight attendant before I became an academic. I still collect airline memorabilia from the 1950-1970, and especially that from vanished airlines like Braniff, TWA, and Pan Am. I ride my bike everywhere. I love old Volvos. Despite my Irish name, I am a committed Southern Italian cook.

I teach at Earlham because of its commitment to intellectual freedom. Professors are encouraged to work across the boundaries of conventional disciplines and to continually expand their areas of expertise. At Earlham, creativity is not only valued, but required.


  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota at Minneapolis
  • B.A., Macalester College

Professional Memberships

Scholarly interest

See my curriculum vitae for my scholarly interests.

In the news

Featured guest on the National Public Radio podcast Throughline, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2023

Published works

Deregulating Desire: Flight Attendant Activism, Family Politics, and Workplace Justice (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016).

Teamsters Metropolis (Manuscript in progress).

Edited Volumes
Co-editor, with the Twin Cities GLBT Oral History Project – Michael David Franklin, Lawrence Knopp, Kevin P. Murphy, Jennifer L. Pierce, Jason Ruiz, and Alex T. Urquhart, Queer Twin Cities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).   

Recent Articles
“Keyword: Work,” Routledge History of American Sexuality, ed. Kevin P. Murphy, Jason Ruiz, and David Serlin (New York: Routledge, Forthcoming December 2019).

“Lifestyle: Dissident Sexualities, U.S. Urban History, and the Genealogy of a Contested Category,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 26.2 (April 2020) Forthcoming.

“The Political Economy of Care: Flight Attendant Unions, Airline Deregulation, and the ‘Pro-Work’ Politics of the 1980s.” Anthropology of Work Review 38.1 (July 2017) 18-27.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.