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.

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).

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. 

 

 

director

Hsiao-wen Cheng

Hsiao-wen Cheng is assistant professor of Chinese religion and history in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She is a cultural and intellectual historian interested in issues related to gender, sexuality, medicine, and religion in medieval and early modern China. Her recent publications include "Manless Women and the Sex–Desire–Procreation Link in Song Medicine" in Asian Medicine and “Before Sexual and Normal: Shifting Categories of Sexual Anomalies from Ancient to Yuan China” in Asia Major

Helen Davies

Helen Davies was selected the 1999 recipient of the Lifetime Mentor Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2003 she was elected to rank of Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2005 she received the Alice Evans Award of the American Society of Microbiology for her excellence in microbiology. She has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women of Color at Penn. Teaching is very important to her and she has received 39 major teaching awards, including Penn’s All-University Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching; one of the two Distinguished Basic Science Educator Awards, awards given in the Medical School; and the Trustees Council of Penn Women’s Award for Generations of Academic Excellence. ” Nationally, she is the first woman to ever receive the American Medical Student Association’s National Excellence in Teaching Award (March, 2001).

Joan DeJean

Professor Dejean’s books reflect her areas of research: the history of women's writing in France (Tender Geographies: Women and the Origins of the Novel in France, 1991); the history of sexuality (Fictions of Sappho, 1546-1937, 1989); the development of the novel (Literary Fortifications, 1984; Libertine Strategies, 1981); and the cultural history and the material culture of late 17th- and early 18th-century France (Ancients against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Siècle, 1996 ; The Essence of Style, 2005; The Age of Comfort, 2010). She published the first uncensored edition of Molière's Dom Juan , as well as editions of Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne and Duras’ Ourika. Prof. DeJean was the winner of the 2003 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies for her book The Reinvention of Obscenity: Sex, Lies, and Tabloids in Early Modern France (U of Chicago P, 2002).

 

 

 

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.

David Eng

David L. Eng is Richard L. Fisher Professor of English. He is also Professor in the Program in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory and the Program in Asian American 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. His areas of specialization include American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, queer studies, gender studies, and visual culture.

C. Neill Epperson

Dr. Epperson has 17 years experience in the treatment of mood and behavioral disorders across the female reproductive life cycle. In specific, she has expertise in the assessment and treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, premenstrual worsening of depression and bipolar disorder, perinatal psychiatric disorders, mood disorders due to hormonal treatments, and perimenopausal mood disturbances. Dr. Epperson also treats women with adjustment difficulties and post-traumatic stress due to pregnancy complications or loss and consults with peri- and early post-menopausal women with cognitive complaints. The Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness, under the direction of Dr. Epperson, includes psychologists and psychiatrists with expertise in women's mental health.

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’s research interests focus on cultural and social factors affecting learning and literacy across the life-course and within families, particularly those at the greatest risk for academic and social vulnerability. Her writing focuses on intergenerational learning, particularly on the relationships between literacy in families and issues of culture, race, gender, and poverty in diverse learning contexts. Her research studies examine the intergenerational and cross-cultural nature of learning, literacy, and identity within families and the relationship between family members' beliefs and practices around learning, educational access, and educational persistence. Her conceptual framework, family cultures, focuses on the interconnectedness among families' political, cultural, and social histories and racialized identities.

Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein is a poet, translator, and scholar of Yiddish poetry. Her many scholarly articles on Yiddish literature, and most recently, on women poets in Yiddish, are published in journals, anthologies, and encyclopedias. Hellerstein's books include her 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).

Nancy Hirschmann

Nancy Hirschmann was Director from 2014-2017. During her tenure, the structure of the GSWS program underwent significant changes, ranging from a new governance structure to curricular revision to obtaining new and larger space. A professor in Political Science, she works in the history of political thought, analytical philosophy and feminist theory. Her newest book, Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory considers the concept of freedom as it developed in the canon of political thought from the 17th to 19th centuries and examines how issues of gender and class affected the dominant conceptions of freedom.  Her previous book, The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom, took a more contemporary approach and considered the concept of freedom in the context of political and social issues such as domestic violence, Islamic veiling, and U.S. welfare reform. She is a former Vice-President of the American Political Science Association.

former director

Ayako Kano

Ayako Kano's research focuses on the intersection of gender, performance, and politics, as well as on Japanese cultural history of the late 19th to early 20th century. Her first book focused on the first generation of actresses in modern Japanese theater. She is currently writing a book about Japanese feminist debates from the 1890s to present. Future projects include a cross-cultural analysis of the medieval Japanese noh theater, as well as a book on film actresses and female spectatorship. Select publications: Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism and “Towards a Critique of Transhistorical Femininity.

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.

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 assistant 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 reform and abolition, libraries as vehicles for DIY education, and ending voter suppression.  

Beth Linker

Beth Linker is an 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 to become the subject of a Ric Burns documentary titled A Debt of Honor in 2015. Linker is also the co-editor with Nancy Hirschmann of Civil Disabilities: Citizenship, Membership, and Belonging (Penn Press, 2014). Her next book, Slouch: The Rise and Fall of the American Posture Sciences, explores the rise of non-communicable epidemics in the twentieth century, using posture as a case study. In 2017, she was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguised Teaching.

Ania Loomba

Ania Loomba researches and teaches early modern literature, histories of race and colonialism, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and contemporary Indian literature and culture. Her writings include Gender, Race, Renaissance DramaColonialism/ Postcolonialism and Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism. She has co-edited Post-colonial ShakespearesPostcolonial Studies and BeyondRace in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion. Her latest publication is a critical edition of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and a co-edited collection of essays Feminisms in South Asia: Contemporary Interventions is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Heather Love

Heather Love’s research interests include gender and sexuality studies, twentieth-century literature and culture, affect studies, sociology and literature, disability studies, film and visual culture, and critical theory. She is the author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Harvard) and 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"). She 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 a book on practices of description in the humanities and social sciences after World War II.

Serena Mayeri

Serena Mayeri is Professor of Law and History at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and holds a secondary appointment in the history department. Her first book, Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution (Harvard University Press, 2011) received the Littleton-Griswold Prize from the American Historical Association and the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians. Mayeri's current book project, The Status of Marriage: Marital Supremacy Challenged and Remade, 1960-2000, examines the history of challenges to marriage's legal primacy. Articles related to this work have appeared recently in the Yale Law Journal, the California Law Review, and Constitutional Commentary. She teaches courses in family law, employment discrimination, gender and the law, and legal history.

Sharrona Pearl

Sharrona Pearl is a Dean's Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication. An expert on physiognomy – the study of facial features and their relationship to character traits – she previously was a post-doctoral fellow in the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature and in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.  She is the author of About Faces: Physiognomy in Ninetheenth-Century Britain (Harvard UP: 2010).

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 (formerly Beckman)

Karen Redrobe (formerly Beckman) is currently working on a short book entitled Animation and the Contemporary Art of War, as well as an edited volume entitled Animating Film Theory, which will explore the challenges animation poses for the discourse of film theory. Prior publications include: Vanishing Women: Magic, Film and Feminism, which examines the relationship between the elusive female body and the medium of film; Crash: Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis which includes chapters on early cinema, slapstick comedy, educational safety films, Warhol, and contemporary disaster films.

Melissa E. Sanchez

Melissa Sanchez studies and teaches sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, with a particular focus on gender, sexuality, and constitutional and religious history. Professor Sanchez has been an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Huntington Library, and in 2009 she received Penn's Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor. Her first book, Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature, examines how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers used scenarios of erotic violence and cross-gender identification to explore the origins and limits of political allegiance.

Dawn Teele

Dawn Langan Teele is the Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.  Teele’s research, which examines the causes and consequences of voting rights reform, forms of bias in politics, and social science methodology, has won several prizes and awards, including the Women and Politics Research Section's award for the best paper presented at the American Political Science Association Conference in 2016, and the Gabriel Almond Award for Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics from the APSA. Teele has published in a variety of academic journals, is the editor of a volume on field experiments (Yale University Press, 2014), and is finishing a book about the practical politics of women’s suffrage for Princeton University Press. She holds a BA in economics from Reed College and a PhD in political science from Yale University. 

 

 

 

Deborah A. Thomas

Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Term Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is the author of Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), 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 and FOUR DAYS IN MAY.  Thomas is also the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness:  Four Days in West Kingston, which opens at the Penn Museum in November 2017.  Thomas has also published extensively in peer-reviewed journals across the disciplines. 

former director

Heidi Voskuhl

Heidi Voskuhl's research field comprises the history of technology from the early modern to the modern period. Her broader interests include the philosophy of technology, the history of the Enlightenment, and modern European intellectual and cultural history.

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.