Core Faculty

The Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program and Alice Paul Center's 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 Alice Paul Center 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.

 

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).

Her current project, Undoing Slavery: Abolitionist Body Politics and the Argument over Humanity, is a book-length interdisciplinary study of the transatlantic abolition movement set in the context of contemporary transformations in international law, medicine, and domestic ideals. Using a framework informed by the history of the body, she examines issues of "freedom" and coercion in the transportation of slaves, convicts, and indigenous peoples and the extraction of slave labor. She also tracks the efforts of abolitionists to create a sympathetic portrait of slaves as people suffering fundamental human rights violations to family ties, free will, and morality. 

 

 

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

 

Karen Detlefsen is a Professor of Philosophy and Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her 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. She has 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. She is also engaged with students and teachers in the Philadelphia Public School District bringing philosophy into pre-college classrooms. She has 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.

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.

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.   She is also the author of numerous articles on domestic violence, welfare, Islamic veiling, obligation, freedom, disability, and women’s role in the family which have appeared in a number of edited collections as well as journals such as Constellations, Political Theory, and The American Political Science Review. She has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College (now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University), The Princeton Univerity Center for Human Values, and received grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and two IREX grants for the development of political theory in Albania. Most recently, she was awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, The National Humanities Center, where she was in residence fall 2017, the Center for Advance Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (declined), and was named a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, where she was in residence for spring 2018. During these fellowships she worked on her newest book, Freedom, Power, and Disability: An Ecological Theory.  She also has worked for the Boston Globe and on Capitol Hill. 

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

director

David Kazanjian

David Kazanjian is Associate Professor of English. His area of specialization is transnational American literary and historical studies through the nineteenth century. His book, The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minnesota), offers a comparative study of colonial and antebellum, racial and national formations, and a critique of the formal egalitarianism that animated early U.S. citizenship. He is currently completing The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World, a study of three nineteenth-century social movements (immigration to Liberia; race and insanity in the 1840 US census and the Creole slave ship revolt; and the Caste War of Yucatán) that improvised with the discourse and practice of freedom.

Andrew Lamas

Andrew Lamas research concerns the theoretical and practical dimensions, as well as the philosophical and religious bases, of social justice and economic democracy — in the context of urbanization. He teaches courses for students pursuing degrees and careers in economic development, community development finance, NGO/non-profit leadership, and related fields. He participates in the Global Gender Group sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, and he is an Affiliated Faculty of Women's Studies and the Alice Paul Center as well as a Faculty Affiliate of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center.

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.

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. 

Dawn Teele

Dawn Langan Teele is Associate Professor of Political Science University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Teele’s research examines the causes and consequences of voting rights reform, forms of bias in politics, and social science methodology. Her recent book Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Womens Vote (Princeton 2018) won the American Political Science Association’s  Gregory Luebbert award for the best book in Comparative Politics. Her recent volume Good Reasons to Run: Women and Political Candidacy (Temple 2020) explores the barriers and opportunities faced by women in public life in the United States and abroad. 

 

 

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).  She is also co-director and co-producer of two films:  BAD FRIDAY:  RASTAFARI AFTER CORAL GARDENS (with John L. Jackson, Jr. and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn), a documentary that chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community – Rastafari – and shows how people use their recollections of the Coral Gardens “incident” in 1963 to imagine new possibilities for the future; and FOUR DAYS IN MAY (with Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn and Deanne M. Bell), an experimental documentary that juxtaposes archives related to the “Tivoli Incursion” in May 2010, when Jamaican security forces entered West Kingston to arrest Christopher Coke, wanted for extradition to the United States, and killed at least 75 civilians.  Thomas is also the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness:  Four Days in West Kingston, which opened at the Penn Museum in November 2017.  Thomas has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals across the disciplines. 

former director

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.