Hugo Benedict Schwyzer (born May 22, 1967) is an American author and speaker and a former instructor of history and gender studies.
Hugo Schwyzer was born in Santa Barbara, California, to Hubert Schwyzer (1935-2006) and Alison Schwyzer. Both parents were professors of philosophy: Hubert taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Alison, at Monterey Peninsula College. His younger brother, Philip, also pursued an academic career and is now Professor of Renaissance Literature at the University of Exeter, England. Hugo himself was an instructor of history and gender studies at Pasadena City College for nearly twenty years.
Schwyzer's parents divorced when he was young. He and his brother were then raised by his mother in Carmel, California. However, Schwyzer maintained a profound connection to his father, who was taken to England as a child when his parents fled Austria after the Anschluss, and later emigrated to California.
Schwyzer studied history at University of California, Berkeley, specializing in medieval history. He developed a passion for this subject after seeing Derek Jacobi perform Shakespeare's Richard II. He attended graduate school at UCLA and was awarded his PhD in 1999.
His doctoral dissertation was entitled "Arms and the Bishop: The Anglo-Scottish War and the Northern Episcopate, 1296-1357", and dealt with the military role of the Bishops of Durham and the Archbishops of York during the Wars of Scottish Independence. He published a related book chapter, "Northern bishops and the Anglo-Scottish War in the reign of Edward II", in Thirteenth Century England 7 (1999).
His three areas of study at graduate level were:
- Medieval English philosophy – William of Ockham & Duns Scotus
- Early Irish monasticism, and the Collectio canonum Hibernensis
- Early modern economic development, especially proto-industrialization
Schwyzer joined the Pasadena City College faculty as an adjunct instructor in 1993, and was then soon hired to a tenure-track position in 1994. Over the course of the following two decades, he taught various history and gender studies courses at PCC, as well as co-taught an interdisciplinary humanities course alongside English and psychology faculty members. After a 20-year career, he was forced to resign in October 2013 due to personal issues and public controversies.
In February 2013, Schwyzer invited adult film actor James Deen to return to his alma mater, Pasadena City College, to speak to students about his career. The appearance, initially open to the public, was restricted by college administrators due to "public safety concerns" over "protesters". Deen was restricted to speaking to the students of Pasadena City College's “Navigating Pornography” class.
Schwyzer was a prolific writer and wrote on topics both public and deeply personal, stemming from his own curiosities as well as the inquisitiveness of others. He has written for such publications as Jezebel and The Atlantic, was a contributor to The Good Men Project, and co-authored Beauty, Disrupted: A Memoir, a biography of supermodel Carré Otis published in October 2011 by HarperCollins.
Schwyzer became the subject of controversy when he voluntarily disclosed to school administration and the general public his many affairs with his young female college students. In several blogposts and interviews, Schwyzer further admitted to an ongoing problem with alcohol and drug abuse, a decades-long struggle with borderline personality disorder and bipolar depression, and a violent murder-suicide attempt with his ex-girlfriend while both were under the influence of narcotics in the summer of 1998.
In September 2013, the college announced that it was launching an investigation of Schwyzer that could lead to his termination. In the media, Schwyzer indicated that he would resign and leave quietly if the college allowed him to remain on salary until the end of the year, at which time health benefits and disability retirement would have commenced. After employing him for nearly 20 years, the college denied this request. On October 8, 2013, less than 3 months prior to the vesting of his benefits, and while he was undergoing mental health treatment, Schwyzer resigned and the college investigation closed.
A week earlier, writing under the heading "Picking up a felony DUI", Schwyzer announced that he had been involved in a car crash, causing injury to a 25-year-old woman. The incident occurred on Friday, 27 September 2013, near San Juan Bautista, California. Schwyzer apologized to the injured woman before she was airlifted to hospital, made a full confession to law enforcement, and also stated "I am a danger to myself and others and mitigating that danger is vital." He was then charged with felony DUI and released from San Benito County Jail on bail of $100,000. A court date of 5 November 2013 was given. Schwyzer was reported to be in "...an extended treatment program in Malibu, California, focusing on mental illness and chemical dependency." In an April 2015 blog comment, Schwyzer claimed that the DUI matter had been resolved, but that he been asked not to comment on the matter further.
Since January 2014, Schwyzer has been employed as a tax accounting assistant in Los Angeles. In March 2015, in the final entry on his blog, Schwyzer noted that he was not "coming back" nor planning any "grand return" to public life.
In 2016, Schwyzer began writing again on the self-publishing site Medium (website). His posts focused on stories about his children and his romantic adventures, including a series called "Dating While Dad."
Schwyzer has been divorced four times. He has two children, Heloise Cerys Raquel (born 2009) and David Aneurin Nikola (born 2012), with fourth ex-wife Eira Victoria Chumrau.