Mary Lou Roberts

My specialization is Women and Gender; France; the Second World War

My most recent book concerns the politics of sex during the American presence in France during the Second World War. As the GIs conquered Normandy in the summer of 1944, they pursued their fantasies of having sex with French women. Such erotic contacts—including heterosexual sex, prostitution, and rape—became the focus of conflict and debate between the US military and French officials. As these debates occurred in newspapers and official correspondence, they anchored larger struggles for authority, including the breadth of American political power in Europe, and the moral role of the United States as a new global leader.


  • PhD - Brown University
  • MA - Sarah Lawrence College
  • BA - Wesleyan University 


D-Day through French Eyes: Memoirs of Normandy 1944, (University of Chicago Press, June 2014).  View Book Details

What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War Two France, 1944-1946, (University of Chicago Press, 2013). French translation, Editions Seuil, June 2014. Translations in Czech, Chinese, & Japanese are forthcoming.  View Book Details

Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin de Siecle France, (University of Chicago Press, 2002).  View Book Details

Selected Publications:

  • "The Epinal Project," H-France Salon, June 2015.  View Article (pdf)
  • A film, "Le Repos des guerriers," based on What Soldiers Do, (MAHA Productions, France) was released in Spring 2015.
  • “Forum on What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War Two France, 1944-1946,” Journal of Women’s History, Fall 2014.
  • “A Conversation about European Women’s History,” Journal of Women’s History,25, 4 (Winter 2013):288-308.
  • “A nous les petites Havraises !” l’Histoire, les collections, July 2012
  • Co-Editor with Paul Friedland, Special issue of French Historical Studies, “Theorized History,” March 2012.
  • “Out of their Orbit: Celebrity and Eccentricity in Nineteenth Century France,” The Question of Gender: Joan W. Scott’s Critical Feminism, eds. Judith Butler and Elizabeth Weed, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011), 50-79.
  • “The Price of Discretion: Prostitution, Venereal Disease and the American Military in France, 1944-1946,” American Historical Review, 115, no. 4 (October 2010):1002-1030.
  • “Retinking Female Celebrity: The Eccentric Star in Nineteenth Century France,” Charisma, Fame, and Celebrity during the Long 19th Century, eds. Edward Berenson and Eva Giloi, (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010), 103-116.
  • “The Silver Foxhole: Prostitution in Paris, 1944-1945,” French Historical Studies, 33: 1 (Winter 2010), 99-128.

Selected Awards:

  • George Louis Beer Prize, What Soldiers Do, Best Book in International History, American Historical Association, 2014
  • Gilbert Chinard Prize, Society for French Historical Studies and the Institut Français d'Amerique, for What Soldiers Do, 2014
  • Senior Fellowship, Institute for Research in the Humanities, 2010-2014
  • Honorable Mention, Koren Prize, Society for French Historical Studies, 2011
  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 2007-2008
  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, 2008

Advisor To:

  • Conrad Allen
  • Grace Allen
  • John Boonstra
  • Robert Christl
  • Kayci Harris
  • Siobhan McGurk

History Courses:

  • History 120 - Europe & Modern World 1815-present
  • History 200 - Twentieth Century as Lived Experience
  • History 357 - The Second World War
  • History 392 - Women in History
  • History 600 - Women, Gender, & War in 20th Century
  • History 891 - Rise & Fall of the Domestic Ideal
  • History 891 - Gender & Race in European History
  • History 891 - Sexuality Across National Boundaries

Mary Lou Roberts

WARF Distinguished Lucie Aubrac Professor and Plaenert Bascom Professor of History


5101 Mosse Humanities

5003 Mosse Humanities

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