John E. Portmann


Gibson Hall, S-435


  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Yale College
  • Master of Philosophy (MPHIL), Cambridge University
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Virginia

Research Interests

John Portmann studies moral psychology and moral history; cultural studies; Roman Catholic history and theology; sexual ethics; and psychoanalysis. His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. References to his scholarship have appeared in Time, Marie Claire, Mademoiselle, Psychology Today, Newsweek, and Cosmo. He has been interviewed on national public radio stations in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Television interviews include the History Channel, MSNBC, and the Voice of America.

Selected Publications

  • Celebrity Morals and the Decline of Religious Authority (Routledge, 2019)
  • Women and Gay Men ( Bloomsbury, 2016 )
  • "Schadenfreude and Morality" and "Schadenfreude and Pouting." In Schadenfreude: Understanding Pleasure at the Misfortune of Others, edited by Wilco van Dijk and Jaap Ouwerkerk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. (Italian translation, 2016)
  • The Ethics of Sex and Alzheimer's ( Routledge, 2013 )
  • Catholic Culture in the USA ( Continuum, 2009 )
  • A History of Sin ( Rowman & Littlefield, 2007 ) (Korean translation, 2008; Polish translation, 2009)
  • Bad for Us: The Lure of Self-Harm ( Beacon, 2004 )
  • Sex and Heaven: Catholics in Bed and at Prayer ( Palgrave Macmillan, 2003 )
  • In Defense of Sin (ed.) ( St. Martin's, 2001 ) (Portuguese translation, 2005; Korean translation, 2010)
  • When Bad Things Happen to Other People ( Routledge, 2000 ) (short-listed for Phi Beta Kappa's Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize)