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. 

 

 

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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 is Associate Professor of the History of Art and has taught at Penn since 2008; he received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2006. His 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 period. Committed to interdisciplinary inquiry, he places the development of modern art firmly within the histories of technology, science, sexuality, and psychology. Winner of the Phillips Book Prize from the Center for the Study of Modern Art at the Phillips Collection in Washington, Dombrowski is the author of Cézanne, Murder, and Modern Life (University of California Press, 2013). The book analyzes Cézanne’s early scenes of sexual violence through the lens of pre-Freudian definitions of desire and instinct. He is currently completing a new book, tentatively entitled Instants, Moments, Minutes: Monet and the Industrialization of Time, which studies the relation between the impressionist “instant” and the histories of modern time-keeping. He is also preparing a longer essay on the friendship between Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and early French feminist Maria Deraismes.Dombrowski was awarded membership in the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton for 2012-13.

 

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.

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 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.   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.

 

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. Previously, she was a post-doctoral research fellow at Microsoft Research New England, working with the Social Media Collective. 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. 

 

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, health policy, and disability. She is the author of  War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America (Chicago, 2011) which went on to become the subject of 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 MedicineThe Boston GlobeThe 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.

 

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

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. 

 

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 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 (forthcoming), 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

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.