Professor William Naphy

Professor William Naphy
Fellow (Royal Historical Society)

Chair in History

Professor William Naphy
Professor William Naphy

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 273928
fax +44(0)1224 272203
The University of Aberdeen School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History,
Crombie Annexe, Room 109
Meston Walk,
King's College,
University of Aberdeen,
Old Aberdeen,
AB24 3FX.


Professor Naphy received his doctorate (in Reformation History) from the University of St Andrews in 1993.  He was appointed a lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1993 and, in 1996, at Aberdeen where he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1999.  He was awarded a personal chair in 2007.  He is the author of six books with translations into six languages (including a translation, funded by the Norwegian government, into Serbo-Croat for an NGO raising awareness of homosexuality in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia) as well as numerous edited volumes and articles in scholarly journals .   

He has made frequent appearances in the media (Channel 4; Grampian TV; BBC-Scotland; BBC-Radio 4: Start the Week) as a specialist on the history of witchcraft, plague, and sexuality.  He contributed extensively to the media in the discussions surrounding the Kirk's position on gay ministers.  He was historical consultant for Out in the World, a four-part series on the history of sexuality broadcast on Radio 3.

He is a leading authority on Calvin's Geneva during the sixteenth century as well as the history of crime and punishment in the early modern period  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and member of the Sixteenth Century Studies Society

During the course of 2009 and events commemorating Calvin's birth in 1509, Professor Naphy participated in the T. V. Moore endowed lecture series at the San Francisco Theological Seminary along with the Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi (General Secreary, World Alliance of Reformed Churches).  Professor Naphy also delivered a keynote address at the conference on Calvin and his Influence, 1509-2009 (Geneva, 24-27 May).

He speaks often to general audiences on gender, sexuality, witchcraft and Calvinism.

External Memberships and Affiliations

Professor Naphy is one of the editors for the Manchester University Press series on Early Modern Europe.


Research Overview

Calvin, Calvinism, Witchcraft, Plague, Geneva, Crime, Sexuality, Gender, Gay Issues

Current Research

Professor Naphy is currently working on the production of a two-volume study of sexuality, deviance, and criminality in early modern Geneva. The first volume will concentrate on 'unnatural' sexual activity (as defined by the Genevan courts), while the second volume will look at the wider issue of the control and criminalisation of other forms of sexual activity (for example, fornication and adultery).


Teaching Responsibilities

  • HIĀ 1521 Renaissance to Revolutions
  • HI 2512 Making Sex: Constructing Men and Women, c. 1750-the present day
  • HI 302E/352E Aztec, Incas and Mayas: Empires on the Eve of Apocalypse
  • HI 302F/352F Satan, Sorcery & Sabbaths: Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Europe, c. 1450-1700
  • HI 4015 Homosexuality in the Greco-Roman World
  • HI 5026/5526 Tradition and Culture in Protestant Scoland c. 1560-1650


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  • A Long-Suffering Ministry: Calvin & the Continual Crises of Geneva, 1536-1564

    Naphy, W. G., Balserak, J. (ed.)

    A Companion to the Reformation in Geneva. Leiden: Brill, pp. 75-92, 17 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Reforming the City-State: Government in Geneva

    Naphy, W. G.

    John Calvin in Context. Holder, R. W. (ed.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 92-99, 7 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • From prince-bishopric to city-state: Nationalizing the Church and creating a republic in reformation Geneva

    Naphy, W. G.

    Layered Landscapes. Nelson, E., Wright, J. (eds.). Routledge, pp. 134-149, 16 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Consistories

    Naphy, W. G.

    Judging Faith, Punishing Sin. Parker, C., Starr-Lebeau, G. (eds.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 104-116, 12 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Secret Pregnancies & Presumptions of Guilt: Infanticide in Early Modern Geneva, 1558-1642

    Naphy, W. G.

    Politics, Gender, and Belief. Comerford, K., Maag, K., Nelson-Burnett, A. (eds.). Librairie Droz, pp. 265-287, 23 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Born to be Gay: Historija Homoseksualnosti

    Naphy, W. G.

    Sarajevski Otvoreni Centar; Queeria Center; Queer Zagreb, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Belgrade. 338 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

  • Geneva II

    Naphy, W.

    The Calvin Handbook. Selderhuis, H. (ed.). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., pp. 44-56, 13 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Calvins zweiter Aufenhalt in Genf (Calvin's second period in Geneva)

    Naphy, W. G.

    Calvin Handbuch. Selderhuis, H. (ed.). Verlag J.C B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), pp. 44-57, 14 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • 'Under-Age' Sexual Activity in Reformation Geneva

    Naphy, W. G.

    Children and Sexuality. Rousseau, G. (ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 108-141, 34 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

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