Core Faculty

The Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program and The Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies Core Faculty are Penn professors and lecturers who have gender, sexuality or women as a primary area of their research and who commit to sharing their latest research in faculty seminars and colloquia at least once every three years. Our Core Research Faculty keep The Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies and GSWS Program on the cutting edge of new scholarship in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Additionally, Core Faculty, are professors and lecturers who teach one undergraduate or graduate-level cross-listed GSWS course on a regular basis. We count on our Core Faculty to teach courses on a regular rotating basis so that undergraduates and graduate students may fulfill the requirements of the major, minor, or graduate certificate.

Francesca Ammon

Francesca Ammon is a cultural historian of urban planning and the built environment. Her teaching and research focus on the changing spaces of American cities, from World War II to the present. She grounds her interdisciplinary approach to this subject in the premise that the landscape materializes social relations, cultural values, and political and economic processes. Professor Ammon is particularly interested in the history of urban revitalization, with an emphasis on urban renewal; the dynamic relationship between cities and nature; public history as a tool for community-based research and engagement; and the ways that visual culture has shaped understanding of what cities are, have been, and should be. Her book, Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape, won the 2017 Lewis Mumford Prize for the Best Book in Planning History. Her work has also appeared in the Journal of Planning Education and ResearchJournal of Planning HistoryJournal of Urban HistoryChange over TimePreservation Education and Research, and Technology and Culture.

Nancy Bentley

Nancy Bentley is Donald T. Regan Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches courses on topics in American literature and culture, sexuality, kinship studies, and law and literature. Her most recent book is Frantic Panoramas: American Literature and Mass Culture, 1870-1920 (University of Pennsylvania, 2009). She co-authored Volume Three of the Cambridge History of American Literature (2005) and the Bedford Edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition (2002). Her book The Ethnography of Manners (Cambridge University Press, 1996) examined the intersection of novelistic and ethnographic writing in the nineteenth century. She has served as Chair of the Penn English Department and is a recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

 

Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers (Professor) specializes in British literature and culture from Charles II’s restoration in 1660 to the French Revolution. Professor Bowers’ research and writing focus particularly on how representations of intimate relations shaped public and private distributions of power during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and on the ongoing discursive construction of "Great Britain." She publishes and teaches on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British writing by and about women, ideologically driven and partisan political writing of that time and place, the discursive construction of "Great Britain" between 1600 and 1800, and early prose fiction from England and Scotland.

 

Kathleen Brown

Kathleen Brown is a historian of gender and race in early America and the Atlantic World. Educated at Wesleyan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she is author of Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill, 1996), which won the Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association. Her second book, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (Yale, 2009), received the Organization of American Historians' Lawrence Levine Book Prize for cultural history and the Society of the History of the Early American Republic Book Prize. Foul Bodies explores the relationships among health, domestic labor, and ideals for beauty, civilization, and spiritual purity during the period between Europe's Atlantic encounters and the American Civil War. Brown is also author of numerous articles and essays. She has been a fellow of the Omohundro Institute for Early American Studies at the College of William and Mary, the American Antiquarian Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. She is currently a Guggenheim Fellow (2015-2016)

 

 

former director

Hsiao-wen Cheng

Hsiao-wen Cheng is a cultural and intellectual historian of China's middle period (9th-14th centuries), interested in issues related to gender, sexuality, medicine, and religion. Her first book Divine, Demonic, and Disordered: Women without Men in Song Dynasty China explores the unstable meanings attached to the bodies of "manless women" in medical and religious literature as well as popular anecdotes. She is now working on her second book project on the notions of norms in premodern China.

Karen Detlefsen

I am Professor of Philosophy and Education at the University of Pennsylvania. My research focuses on early modern philosophy, including the history of philosophy of science, the history and philosophy of education, and women in the history of philosophy. I have published on a wide range of figures, including Astell, Cavendish, Conway, Descartes, Du Châtelet, Hobbes, Leibniz, Malebranche, and Wolff, covering topics in metaphysics, the natural sciences, ethics and political philosophy. I am also engaged with students and teachers in the Philadelphia Public School District bringing philosophy into pre-college classrooms. I have held research grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Society, the Australian Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

André Dombrowski

André Dombrowski’s research and teaching center on the arts and material cultures of France and Germany, and their empires, in the mid to late nineteenth century. He is particularly concerned with the social and intellectual rationales behind the emergence of avant-garde painting in the 1860s to 1880s, including Impressionism. Committed to interdisciplinary inquiry, he places the development of modern art firmly within the histories of technology, science, politics, sexuality, and psychology. He has written books and articles on such crucial artists of the period as Paul Cézanne, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Adolf von Menzel, to name but a few. He has also published on the political imagery surrounding the Dreyfus Affair and Second Empire decorative arts.

David Eng

David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor of English as well as Graduate Chair of the English Department. He is also Professor in the Program in Asian American Studies, the Program in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory, and the Program in Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies. After receiving his B.A. in English from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley, he taught at Columbia and Rutgers before joining Penn in 2007. Eng has held visiting professorships at the University of Bergen (Norway), King's College London, Harvard University, and the University of Hong Kong. He is the recipient of research fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and the Mellon Foundation, among others. In 2016, Eng was elected an honorary member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City. His areas of specialization include American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, queer studies, gender studies, and visual culture.

Julie Fairman

Julie Fairman is a nurse historian whose work on the history of 20th Century health care represents a track record of consistent funding, including fellowships from the NLM, NEH and RWJ. Her work on the history of critical care earned her awards from the American Association of the History of Nursing and her first book, Critical Nursing: A History, received favorable reviews in the national and regional popular press and from reviewers in professional journals.

Vivian L. Gadsen

Dr. Gadsden began her career teaching developmental English, reading, and educational psychology at Oakland and Wayne State Universities in Michigan. From 1983 to 1985, she was a research analyst at Policy Studies Associates in Washington, D.C. In 1988, Dr. Gadsden joined Penn GSE’s Literacy Research Center, where she became associate director in 1989. A former Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Gadsden served as associate director in the National Center on Adult Literacy for six years. In 1994, she became the director of the newly founded National Center on Fathers and Families, an interdisciplinary policy research center focused on child and family well-being. She also served as Education Graduate Group Chair from 1996 to 2004. In 2006, she was named the William T. Carter Professor in Child Development and Education.

 

Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, specializing in Yiddish, and the Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her books include a translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, In New York: A Selection, (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges:  Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature:  A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2001).  Her monograph, A Question of Tradition:  Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987, won the Barbara Dobkin Prize in Women’s Studies from the Jewish Book Council for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award, and the Modern Language Association 2015 Fenia and Yakov Leviant Prize in Yiddish Studies.

Nancy Hirschmann

Nancy J. Hirschmann is Professor of Political Science at The University of Pennsylvania, where she has served as Director of the Program on Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women, and Vice Chair of the Department of Political Science. She previously taught at Cornell University for 12 years, and Swarthmore College.  She is the author of Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 2008), The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom (Princeton University Press, 2003), which won the 2004 Victoria Schuck Award from the APSA for the best book on women and politics, and Rethinking Obligation: A Feminist Method for Political Theory (1992, Cornell University Press). She is co-editor of several collected volumes, including Women and Welfare: Theory and Practice in the United States and Europe, Revisioning the Political: Feminist Reconstructions of Traditional Concepts in Western Political Theory, Civil Disabilities: Citizenship, Membership and Belonging, and Disability and Political Theory.  

former director

Ayako Kano

 

Dr. Kano’s research focuses on the intersection of gender, performance, and politics, in the context of Japanese cultural history from the 19th century to the present. Her first book (Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism, Palgrave2001), focused on the first generation of actresses in modern Japanese theater. Her second book (Japanese Feminist Debates: A Century of Contention on Sex, Love, and Labor, University of Hawai’i Press 2016) analyzed Japanese feminist discussions from the 1890s to the present. She has also co-edited with Julia Bullock and James Welker a volume of essays reconsidering modern Japanese feminism (Rethinking Japanese Feminisms, University of Hawai’i Press 2018). Current projects include a book on cinematic adaptations of Japanese literature focusing on themes of war, sex, and belonging, and a collaborative translation project of a popular illustrated book from the early modern period.

 

Jonathan D. Katz

Jonathan D. Katz is perhaps the founding figure in queer art history, responsible for the very first queer scholarship on a number of artists beginning in the early 1990s. His scholarship spans a period from the late 19th-century to the present, with an emphasis on the US, but with serious attention to Europe, Latin America and Asia as well. He has written extensively about gender, sexuality and desire, producing some of the key theoretical work in queer studies in the visual arts.

former director

David Kazanjian

David Kazanjian received his PhD from the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex, and his B.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. His fields include transnational American literary and historical studies through the 19th century, political philosophy, continental philosophy, Afro-diaspora studies, Latin American studies, and Armenian diaspora studies. He is the author of The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minnesota) and The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (Duke). He has co-edited (with David L. Eng) Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California), as well as (with Shay Brawn, Bonnie Dow, Lisa Maria Hogeland, Mary Klages, Deb Meem, and Rhonda Pettit) The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Volume One: Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Aunt Lute Books). He has also published widely on the cultural politics of the North American-Armenian diaspora, and co-edits—with Priscilla Wald (Duke) and Elizabeth McHenry (NYU)—a book series on America and the Long 19th Century for NYU Press.

Robin Leidner

Robin Leidner's research concerns the relation between structural conditions of employment and its interactional components, as well as how work arrangements draw on and affect cultural understandings of the ways people do and should relate to each other. In Fast Food, Fast Talk: Service Work and the Routinization of Everyday Life, she examined what happens when organizations try to standardize interactions between workers and customers.  Her current research involves low-status jobs in which people had incentives to separate themselves from the identity their work conferred.

Jessa Lingel

Jessa Lingel is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, where she studies digital culture, looking for the ways that relationships to technology can show us gaps in power or possibilities for social change. She received her Ph.D. in Communication and Information from Rutgers University. She has an MLIS from Pratt Institute and an M.A. from New York University. In her activist work, Lingel concentrates on prison abolition, libraries as vehicles for DIY education, and local access to mental health resources.

Beth Linker

Beth Linker is the Samuel H. Preston Endowed Term Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of the History and Sociology of Science. Her research and teaching interests include the history of science and medicine, the body, gender, health policy, and disability. She is the author of War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America (Chicago, 2011) which went on to be featured in a Ric Burns documentary titled A Debt of Honor in 2015. Linker is also the co-editor of Civil Disabilities: Citizenship, Membership, and Belonging (Penn Press, 2014). Her award-winning scholarship has also appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Boston Globe, The Huffington PostThe Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and The American Journal of Public Health.

Ania Loomba

Ania Loomba received her BA (Hons.), M. A., and M. Phil. degrees from the University of Delhi, India, and her Ph. D. from the University of Sussex, UK. She researches and teaches early modern literature, histories of race and colonialism, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and contemporary Indian literature and culture. She currently holds the Catherine Bryson Chair in the English department. She is also faculty in Comparative Literature, South Asian Studies, and Women's Studies, and her courses are regularly cross-listed with these programs.

Heather Love

Heather Love teaches English and Gender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Harvard), the editor of a special issue of GLQ on Gayle Rubin (“Rethinking Sex”), and the co-editor of a special issue of Representations (“Description Across Disciplines”). Love has written on topics including comparative social stigma, compulsory happiness, transgender fiction, spinster aesthetics, reading methods in literary studies, and the history of deviance studies. She is currently completing two books: Underdogs, on the deviance studies roots of queer theory; and Practices of Description: Reading the Social in the Postwar Period, which offers a literary history of microsociology from 1955-1975.

Serena Mayeri

Serena Mayeri is Professor of Law and History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Mayeri’s scholarship focuses on the historical impact of progressive and conservative social movements on legal and constitutional change. Her history of feminist legal advocacy in the 1960s and 1970s, Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution (Harvard University Press, 2011; paperback edition 2014) received the Littleton-Griswold Prize from the American Historical Association and the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). Mayeri’s current book project, The Status of Marriage: Marital Supremacy Challenged and Remade, examines challenges to the legal primacy of marriage since 1960. Recent work related to this project has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Constitutional Commentary, and the California Law Review. Mayeri is the author of many law review articles and book chapters in edited volumes, and has contributed to several amicus briefs authored by historians and legal scholars on subjects including marriage equality, abortion rights, constitutional family rights, and gender-based citizenship restrictions.

Kathy Peiss

Kathy Peiss's research has examined the history of working women; working-class and interracial sexuality; leisure, style, and popular culture; the beauty industry in the U.S. and abroad; and print culture and cultural policy during World War II.  She is particularly interested in the ways that commerce and culture have shaped the everyday life and popular beliefs of Americans across time.  Peiss is the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York and Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and named one of Amazon's 1999 top ten books in Women's Studies. 

Karen Redrobe

Karen Redrobe (formerly Beckman) is the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema and Modern Media, Director of the Wolf Humanities Center, and Chair of the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vanishing Women: Magic, Film and Feminism(Duke UP, 2003); Crash: Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis (Duke UP, 2010), and is now working on a new book, Undead: Animation and the Contemporary Art of War. She has co-edited two volumes: Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography with Jean Ma (Duke UP, September 2008) and On Writing With Photography (Minnesota UP, 2013) with Liliane Weissberg, and is also the editor of Animating Film Theory (Duke UP, 2014), which explores the history of film theory's engagement (and lack of it) with animation. She is now co-editing a new volume with Jeffrey Scheible entitled Deep Mediations, which explores the intersection of depth as a philosophical and visual concept. As a faculty member, her top priority is to expand access to higher education.

Melissa E. Sanchez

Melissa E. Sanchez received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Her research and teaching focus on feminism, queer theory, and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, and she is Core Faculty in Penn's Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program.

director

Deborah A. Thomas

Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, holds a secondary appointment with the Graduate School of Education, and is a member of the graduate groups in English, Africana Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.  Prior to her appointment at Penn, she spent two years as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for the Americas at Wesleyan University, and four years teaching in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.  She is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation:  Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (2019), Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Modern Blackness:  Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004), and is co-editor of Globalization and Race:  Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness (2006). 

former director

Beans Velocci

Beans Velocci is a historian of knowledge production in the realms of sex, gender, and sexuality, based in the Department of History and Sociology of Science. Their work uses queer, trans, and feminist methods to interrogate how classification systems become regarded as biological truths, primarily in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States and its colonial and white supremacist context. Their first book project, tentatively titled Binary Logic, is a prehistory of cisness that looks at how sex emerged as a privileged way of sorting bodies not despite but because of its incoherence. Beans holds a PhD and several master's degrees from Yale University, an MA from the University of Utah, and an AB from Smith College. 

Lance Wahlert

Lance Wahlert is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Program Director of the Master of Bioethics (MBE) in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Wahlert is also the Director of the Project on Bioethics, Sexuality, and Gender Identity, which has demarcated a sub-field within bioethics that focuses on the intersection of LGBTQ issues and medical ethics. Dr. Wahlert’s scholarly interests include the historiographical legacy of the healthcare concerns of LGBTQ persons, the impact of cinematic genres on cultural histories, and the relationship between literary narratives and clinical forms of storytelling.

David Wallace

David Wallace is a medievalist who looks forward to the early modern period; he works on English and Italian matters with additional interests in French, German, women's writing, romance, "discovery" of the Americas and the history of slavery, and Europe.  His most recent book is Strong Women: http://blog.oup.com/2011/05/strong-women/ He is currently editing the first literary history of Europe, 1348-1418, which is organized not by 'national blocks' but by nine sequences of places, or itineraries. It assumes that the space of 'Europe' becomes intelligible only through dialogue with that which forms its 'outside,' or dialogues with it.  There is an interactive website to support this project.

Liliane Weissberg

Liliane Weissberg's interests focus on late eighteenth-century to early twentieth-century German literature and philosophy. Much of her work has concentrated on German, European, and American Romanticism, but she has also written on the notion of representation in realism, on photography, and on literary and feminist theory. Among her more recent books are a critical edition of Hannah Arendt's Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess, the anthologies Cultural Memory and the Construction of IdentityRomancing the Shadow: Poe and Race,  Picture This! Writing with Photography, and Hannah Arendt und die Frankfurter Schule.