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The Trouble with Sumner Welles: Sexuality, Race, and the Limits of Mythmaking in Queer History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of American Studies
Accepted/In press7 Nov 2022
Published14 Nov 2022


King's Authors


Sumner Welles occupies a queer place in American history. Despite his prominence, his reputation among diplomatic historians has been overshadowed by the sex scandal that occasioned his demise. Conversely, he has attracted cursory attention from scholars of the history of sexuality. This article examines that historiographic dialectic. By analyzing literature about Welles, conducting a close reading of sources that catalogued Welles's sexuality, and applying an intersectional lens to the scandal that ended his career, this article seeks to redress historiographic misunderstandings and omissions about Welles. Additionally, this article explores ethical questions historians must contend with when analyzing historical queer figures.

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