Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter

Associate Professor

111 Mitchell
Office Hours
On Leave Fall 2019


Ph.D., History, University of Chicago, 2008

Fields of interest

My research and teaching interests are: Women, gender, and sexuality; history of family and childhood; social work history and the history of adoption; race and racialization; 20th-century US history.

I am currently working on a new book manuscript, tentatively entitled Your Cheating Heart: Adultery in the Age of Feminism and the New Right, which examines the emergence of a strong public interest in adultery during the culture wars of the late twentieth century. Affairs that would have once been overlooked, such as those of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, now turn into the media circus faced by everyone from Bill Clinton to Mark Sanford to David Petraeus. Likewise, polling suggests that Americans frown upon adultery now more than we did four decades ago. We now live in a media and social landscape where talk about cheating, if not cheating itself, is pervasive. By examining the ways feminists, conservatives, religious authorities, magazines, and even TV news talked about adultery during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Your Cheating Heart seeks to understand this change in our ideas about adultery in the context of the country's rapidly shifting political climate.

Courses taught

US since 1877; History of American Family; History of American Childhood; Reproductive Rights Movement in the US; US Historiography since 1877; History of Sexuality in the US; US post-1945

Representative publications

  • Everybody Else: Adoption and the Politics of Domestic Diversity in Postwar America (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2014)
  • "Family Ideals: The Diverse Meanings of Residential Space in Chicago during the Baby Boom," Journal of Urban History 39, no. 1 (January 2013): 59-78
  • "'Undesirable Relations': Same-sex Relationships and the Meaning of Sexual Desire at a Women's Reformatory during the Progressive Era," Feminist Studies 30, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 394-41