Paul Renfro

Associate Professor of History
Paul Renfro

Contact Information

Paul Renfro is an associate professor of history and an affiliate faculty and advisory board member in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. He earned his PhD in history from the University of Iowa, where he was a Louis Pelzer Dissertation Fellow. Before arriving at Florida State University in 2018, he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Renfro is the author of two books: The Life and Death of Ryan White: AIDS and Inequality in America (University of North Carolina Press, 2024) and Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State (Oxford University Press, 2020). He is also the coeditor of Growing Up America: Youth and Politics since 1945 (University of Georgia Press, 2019), and his scholarly articles have appeared in Feminist Studies and Disability Studies Quarterly. Renfro regularly writes for popular outlets such as TIME, the Washington Post, the New RepublicSlateDissentTeen Vogue, and Jacobin, and he has been interviewed for stories in The Nation, the New YorkerELLE, JezebelThe AppealSalon, and Mother Jones.

He is represented by Lucy Cleland at Calligraph.  

Spring 2025—The United States in the Twenty-First Century (AMH 3279-1); The United States since 1945 (AMH 4270-1)

Fall 2024—The United States since 1877 (AMH 2020-1); AIDS Ain’t Over: Histories of an Ongoing Epidemic (AMH 3930-3)

Research Interests

Post-1945 US, Political and Cultural History, Gender/Sexuality, the Carceral State, Childhood and the Family


The Life and Death of Ryan White

In the 1980s, as HIV/AIDS ravaged queer communities and communities of color in the United States and beyond, a straight white teenager named Ryan White emerged as the face of the epidemic.

Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood and the American Carceral State

Beginning with Etan Patz's disappearance in Manhattan in 1979, a spate of high-profile cases of missing and murdered children stoked anxieties about the threats of child kidnapping and exploitation.

Growing Up America: Youth and Politics since 1945

Growing Up America brings together new scholarship that considers the role of children and teenagers in shaping American political life during the decades following the Second World War.