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Elizabeth Reis

Professor Emeritus
Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Phone: 541-346-5904
Office: 320 Hendricks Hall
Research Interests: Historical and contemporary analysis of medical ethics, pediatric ethics, autonomy, and religion. Prof. Reis has written recently about male circumcision, transgender issues, intersex surgeries, and informed consent.


Professor Reis received her A.B. from Smith College in 1980, her M.A. in History from Brown University in 1982, and her Ph.D from UC Berkeley in 1991.


Elizabeth Reis is interested in both the history and contemporary analysis of medical ethics, sexuality, and religion.  She has written recently about male circumcision, transgender issues, intersex surgeries, and informed consent.  She also serves on the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Consult Team at PeaceHealth Medical Center in Eugene, and is the Content Editor of, a collaborative blog project that focuses on the  intersection of gender, sexuality, and medicine.



  • Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009; paper 2012)
  • Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997; paper 1999).
  • Ed., Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1998).
  • Ed., Dear Lizzie: Memoir of a Jewish Immigrant Woman (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2000).
  • Ed., American Sexual Histories: A Blackwell Reader in American Social and Cultural History (London and Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2001; 2nd edition, 2012).


  • Transgender Identity at a Crossroads: A Close Reading of a ‘Queer’ Story from 1857Early American Studies (Special issue: Beyond the Binaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America), Forthcoming, 2014).
  • “The Ethics of American Circumcision in a Globalized World,” The Global Studies Journal 4, 2 (2012), 45-50
  •  ”Divergence or Disorder? The Politics of Naming Intersex,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 50:4 (Autumn 2007), 535-543.
  •  ”Hermaphrodites and Same-Sex Sex in Early America,” in Thomas Foster, ed., Long Before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexualities in Early America (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 144-163.
  • “Impossible Hermaphrodites: Intersex in America, 1620-1960” Journal of American History 92 (September 2005), 411-41.