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I. Description of the Blog
II. How to Cite this Blog in ASA, MLA, & APA
III. My Current CV

I. Description of Doing, Undergoing, & Meaning

It is now the social scientist’s foremost political and intellectual task – for here the two coincide – to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference. It is the central demand made upon her by other cultural workers – by physical scientists and artists, by the intellectual community in general. It is because of this task and these demands, I believe, that the social sciences are becoming the common denominator of our cultural period, and the sociological imagination our most needed quality of mind. —C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination

In the mid-20th century, C. Wright Mills argued that the promise of social sciences is to help us understand out experience of life, including our emotional responses to those experience. For Mills, this was a broad project that included humanistic and scientific modes of thinking; and he insisted that, to fully understand and explain human society, there must be a deep understanding of contexts, histories, values, and experiences within any phenomenon. Mills eschewed the monicker ‘sociologist’ in favor of ‘social scientist’ in his efforts to disavow disciplinary limits to theoretical and methodological thinking.

It would indeed be arrogant of me to claim to be such a social scientist, but Mills’ definition of social sciences has greatly influenced my own view of what it is I do professionally and intellectually. This blog is a repository of my thinking, reading, research, and ideas along these lines. My topical interests range from religion to sexuality, from cognition to emotions, from mass culture to “serious” art. My theoretical and methodological perspectives range from historical to sociological, political-economic to queer theoretical, symbolic interaction to cultural history, American pragmatism to Weberian objectivity. My postings will range from reviews of peer-reviewed research, to updates and trial ballons of my own research, to thoughts on popular culture and literature. I seek in my thinking to understand the relationship between human experience and the systems of meanings (intelligibility) that humans create in ongoing activity-undergoing with their environments (as described by John Dewey, Nature and Experience). Finally, I tend to resist political or moral imperatives and enjoy poking at sacred cows, academic, religious, and political.

I welcome civil and engaged discourse and disagreement from across intellectual, political, and cultural perspectives, but reserve the right to block comments that devolve into inappropriate ad hominem or evangelizing.

II. How to Cite this Blog 

ASA (Chicago Style):

Ormsbee, J. Todd. Year. “Post Title.” Doing, Undergoing, & Meaning, full date of post. Retrieved date. (

MLA Style

Ormsbee, J. Todd, “Post Title.” Weblog entry. Doing Undergoing, & Meaning. Date posted. Date accessed (

APA Style

Ormsbee, J.T. Title of individual blog entry. Retrieved date, from

III. Current Curriculum Vitae

J. Todd Ormsbee
Associate Professor of American Studies
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0092

Ph.D. in American Studies University of Kansas, 2004
M.A. in American Studies University of Kansas, 1998
B.A. in English Brigham Young University, 1994

Professional Employment

  • Associate Professor of American Studies San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, 2011 to present
  • Assistant Professor of American Studies San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, 2005 to 2011
  • Adjunct to Sociology San Jose State University; San Jose CA, 2009 to present
  • Lecturer Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, 2004 to 2005
  • Lecturer Department of Sociology, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, 2005
  • Lecturer American Studies Program, San Jose State University; San Jose, CA, 2005
  • Lecturer Department of History, San Francisco State University; San Francisco, CA, 2002 to 2003
  • Instructor Liberal Studies Department, Art Institute of California—San Francisco; San Francisco, CA, 2002 to 2005

Grants, Awards, and Honors

  • CSU Faculty Research Grant, Spring 2011 with Summer Stipend
  • Dean of Humanities Release for Research, Spring 2008
  • Norman R. Yetman Outstanding Dissertation in American Studies 2004 recipient

Current Scholarly, Research, and Teaching Interests

  • Social and Cultural Theory
  • Sociology and History of Sexuality
  • Comparative-Historical Sociology & Social History of the United States
  • Symbolic Interaction, Social Psychology, & Grounded Theory
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Mass and Popular Culture


  • The Meaning of ‘Gay’: Interaction, Community and Publicity among Homosexual Men in 1960s San Francisco (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2010).


  • “Overcoming Domination through Self-Representation: Gay Men’s Experience in 1960s San Francisco” in Social Thought and Research 26:1 & 2 (2005)

Current Research:

  • “Journey to Unbelief: A Theory of the Psycho-Social Process of Leaving a Tightly Scripted Religious Community”
  • “Emotion and Emotionality in Becoming an Unbeliever: A Mormon Case Study”

Encyclopedia Entries

  • “Queer Theory and American Studies” in Encyclopedia of American Studies, edited by Miles Orvell, (forthcoming).
  • “Scholarship and Academic Study, GLBTQ,” in The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture, edited by David Gerstner, (Routledge: New York, 2006).
  • “The Commodity” in American Material Culture: An Encyclopedia, eds. Miriam Forman-Brunell, Helen Sheumaker, and Shirley Wajda (New York: ABC-CLIO, 2002). 

Book Reviews

  • Mark T. Decker and Michael Austin, editors, Peculiar Portrayals: Mormons on the Page, Stage, and Screen. Reviewed for American Studies, Fall 2011.
  • Benjamin Shepard, Queer Political Performance and Protest: Play, Pleasure and Social Movement. Reviewed in Contemporary Sociology, October 2010.
  • Timothy Hodgdon, Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Counter-Culture Commmunities. Reviewed in American Studies, Summer 2010
  • Eithne Lulbhéld and Lionel Cantú Jr, editors. Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings. Reviewed in American Studies, Summer 2006.
  • David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.  Reviewed in American Studies, Fall 2004.
  • Nan A. Boyd, Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965.  Reviewed in Western Historical Quarterly, Summer 2004.

Papers Presented

  • “‘Like a Chord Snapping’: Emotion and Emotionality of Leaving Mormonism”—Midwest Sociological Society, Minneapolis, MN, March 2012
  • “Withdrawal from Mormonism: Toward a Model of the Psycho-Social Processes of Leaving a Tightly Scripted Religious Community”—Midwest Sociological Society, St. Louis, MO, March 2011
  •  “Unbelief among Ex-Mormons: The Psycho-Social Process of Losing Belief in God”—Pacific Sociological Association, Seattle, WA, March 2011
  • “As Sexual Cultures Collide: Thinking about the Historical Transformations of Sexuality in the Age of Globalism”—Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, Palo Alto, CA, August 2006
  •  “Effective Freedom, Self-Realization, and Democratic Community”—Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy [American Pragmatism], March 2005
  • “Knowledge, Experience and Desire:  From Cultural Theory to Cultural Method”—American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 2004
  • “‘For Those in Our Community’:  Discursive Strategies of Gay Male Community Building in The LCE News, 1961-2 San Francisco”—American Studies Association, Houston, TX, November 2002
  • “For the Eternal Plan of Happiness:  Mormonism, the Construction of the Eternal Family, and the Ex-Gay Movement”—Midwest Sociological Society, Chicago, IL, April 2000
  • “The Erotics of Family Values and the Formation of Ex-Gay Subjectivity”—Mid-America American Studies Association, Kansas City, MO, March 2000
  • “Disappearing Acts: American Studies, Sexual Discourse, and Queerness”—Mid-America American Studies Association, Iowa City, IA, March 1998

Teaching—Courses Taught (alphabetical)

  • American Civilization to 1865
  • American Civilization, 1865 to Present
  • American Dream [Self, Society, and Inequality]
  • America from the Outside [The U.S. and Globalization]
  • American Popular Culture
  • Consumerism and Mass Culture in the United States [Senior Seminar]
  • Crossing Borders: Explorations in Mexican America [Senior Seminar]
  • Cultural Studies
  • History of Sexuality in the United States
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Nature and World Cultures
  • Religion and Political Controversy in the U.S.
  • Senior Research Seminar
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Theory
  • U.S. History, 1865 to present
  • Western Civilization I & II
  • World Conflict [sociology of globalization]
  • World History to 1500
  • World History, 1500 to present
  • Writing for the Humanities

Current Professional Memberships

  • Midwest Sociological Society
  • American Sociological Association
  • American Studies Association

University Service

  • General Education Assessment and Accreditation, Area-V (World Cultures) Committee, 2010
  • Acting Coordinator, American Studies Program, Department of Humanities, San Jose State University, Fall 2008
  • College Curriculum Committee, College of Humanities, San Jose State University, 2008-2009
  • Faculty Advisor, Student Secularist Association, San Jose State University, 2012 to present
  • Faculty Advisor, QTIP [gay and lesbian student group], San Jose State University, 2008-09, 2007-08, 2006-07
  • Department Curriculum Committee, Department of Humanities, San Jose State University, 2011-12, 2010-2011, 2009-10, 2007-08, 2006-07,  2005-06
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