Body/Embodiment Collaborative Research ClusterAbout Our Research
As a WGSS/Humanities Center Working Group last year (2011-12), our group met monthly for a set of fascinating, wide-ranging conversations, based on shared readings and presentations of works-in-progress. This year, our group returns as a research cluster for an on-going collaboration between the WGSS Program (Linda Blum, Director of WGSS as Co-Convener) and the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University in Sweden (Dr. Lisa Folksmarson Käll, Coordinator of the Body/Embodiment group at the Center, as Co-Convener).
The interdisciplinary focus of “body studies” has burgeoned in the past decade – evidenced in the rising impact factor of the interdisciplinary journal Body & Society—as an outgrowth of feminist and queer theories, cultural studies, and critical race studies. The field is influenced as well by those re/thinking the materiality and phenomenological experience of the body in disability studies, philosophy, and social-cultural studies of medicine and the biological sciences. We raise questions of how bodies work as social and cultural texts; how bodies are marked by power and social inequalities, translated and negotiated through authoritative biomedical discourses; how bodies are sites of subjectivity, identity, and place; and how bodies become cultural artifacts informing collective political identities.
Group Members and Bios:
Linda BlumLinda is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University. She has used qualitative, ethnographic approaches to study aspects of changing gender relations from the workplace, to maternal embodiment and its racialized class boundaries, to a current project on mothers' understandings of the burgeoning medicalization of childhood. She is the author of Between Feminism and Labor: The Significance of the Comparable Worth Movement and At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States.
Estye FentonEstye Fenton is a PhD candidate in Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. She presented her research “Babies as the ‘Subjects of Labor’: The Case of Guatemala and International Adoption” at Northeastern’s “Raw Materials” Conference in 2011. Her current project for the upcoming Body/Embodiment volume is “Mothering with Neuroscience in a Neoliberal Age: Child Disorders in Precarious Times,” in partnership with Dr. Linda Blum.
Anne FlecheAnne Fleche is a Lecturer in film and drama at Northeastern University and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Leigh GilmoreLeigh Gilmore is a Visiting Scholar in Northeastern University’s WGSS Program for the year of 2012-2013. She was formerly a Professor of English at Ohio State University. She earned her PhD in English from University of Washington and is the author of The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony and Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women’s Self-Representation. Reading Women Writing Series . Her current project is Tainted Witness: Women's Testimony in a Transnational Frame, 1990 to Present .
Ann GrenellAnn Grenell is a Lecturer in History and Liberal Studies, College of Professional Studies, and an Academic Advisor, College of Science, at Northeastern University. She was a member of the Northeastern History Department for 23 years, and has taught in the University’s Media & Screen Studies Program (Cinema Studies), and at Berklee College of Music. Her teaching and research are interdisciplinary in nature, and explore the intersections between History, Cultural Politics, Cinema, and Human Rights.Courses taught range from the Holocaust, Modern German History (including Weimar Culture and the Third Reich), Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Genocide in the 20th Century, 'The Western' as American Film and Culture, Exile Cinema, and Film Noir. She received her Masters in European History from and did doctoral work at Boston College.
Debra KaufmanDebra Kaufman is Matthews Distinguished University Professor in Sociology/Anthropology Department and former Director of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program. She is author of From the Protocols of Zion to Holocaust Denial Trials: Challenging the Media, the Law and the Academy. (Vallentine Mitchell: Oregon 2007); Post Holocaust Identity and an Ever-Dying People: Contemporary Narratives (2006); and Rachel’s Daughters: Newly Orthodox Jewish Women (Rutgers University Press, 1991).
Uta PoigerUta G. Poiger joined the History Department in July 2011 as Professor of History and Department Chair. In her research, Poiger examines 20th-century German culture and society in transnational perspective, and makes the study of race and gender central to these explorations. Her graduate and undergraduate teaching has included courses on modern European and German history, the Holocaust and comparative genocide, gender and sexuality, and historiography. Before coming to Northeastern, Poiger taught for sixteen years at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she was the Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She has been visiting faculty at Harvard University and is currently a member of the editorial board of the interdisciplinary journal Feminist Studies.
Amanda RunyanAmanda Runyan is a current Doctoral Candidate in English at Northeastern University, as well as a Graduate Representative of the English Department in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Executive Committee. Her primary research areas are 18th century transatlantic literature, 19th century American literature, gender theory, and critical race theory. Her current dissertation research uses material and visual theory to study transatlantic literature.
Kara SwansonKara is a former scientist and practicing patent attorney whose research and teaching interests are in intellectual property, property theory, legal history, the history of science, technology, and medicine, and gender and sexuality studies. Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Swanson was the Berger-Howe Visiting Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School, earned a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University, and was Associate Professor of Law at Drexel University. She is currently working on a book about the history of body banks as institutions which commodify the human body. She recently published "Human Milk as Technology and Technologies of Human Milk," in Women's Studies Quarterly and has forthcoming article "Getting a Grip on the Corset: A Feminist Analysis of Patent Law." She has also written several articles on the United States patent system during the nineteenth century, including "The Emergence of the Professional Patent Practitioner," published in Technology and Culture. She earned a B.S. from Yale University in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, an M.A. from UC-Berkeley in biochemistry, and a J.D. from UC-Berkeley.
Dr. Suzanna Danuta Walters' work is centered on questions of gender, sexuality, family, and popular culture and she is a frequent commentator on these issues for the media. Her forthcoming book, The Tolerance Trap: What’s Wrong with Gay Rights (NYU Press) explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. Walters’ previous book, All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America (University of Chicago Press, 2001), examined the explosion of gay visibility in culture and politics over the past 15 years and raised pressing questions concerning the politics of visibility around sexual identity. The book was a finalist for numerous literary awards (including the Lambda Literary Award) and was the subject of radio and television interviews and discussions, culminating in a 15-city book tour in the Fall of 2001 and Spring 2002. Her other works include books on feminist cultural theory (Material Girls: Making Sense of Feminist Cultural Theory), mothers and daughters in popular culture (Lives Together/Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture) and numerous articles and book chapters on feminist theory, queer theory and LGBT studies, and popular culture.
In 2004, Walters founded the first Ph.D. program in gender studies at Indiana University, where she was a Professor of Gender Studies and held positions in Sociology and Communication and Culture. Previously, Walters was Professor of Sociology and Director of Women’s Studies at Georgetown University. She was also a Visiting Senior Scholar at the Center for Narrative Research at the University of East London. She received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Center, City University of New York in 1990.
Dr. Lihua Wang is Program Coordinator of the Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University and Associate in Research at the Fairbank Center for Eastern Asian Studies at Harvard University. She is editor of Globalization and its Chinese Discontents: Feminist Critiques (2008, Peking University Press) and Women, War, and Violence: Personal Perspectives and Global Activism (2010, Palgrave Macmillan).
Shannon Weber is a PhD candidate in Feminist Studies with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and is a WGSS Visiting Scholar for the year of 2012-2013. Her research interests are LGBTQ history, social movements, and politics; marginalized and abjected bodies; popular culture, representation, and new media; feminist theory; critical disability studies; and fat studies. One publication under review includes the journal article Daring to Marry: Marriage equality Activism After Proposition 8 as a Challenge to the Assimilation/Radical Binary in Queer Studies, and her article What’s Wrong with Be(com)ing Queer? Biological Determinism as Discursive Queer Hegemony was published in the September 2012 edition of the journal Sexualities. Furthermore, she has contributed the book chapters “Born this Way”: Biology and Sexuality in Lady Gaga’s Pro-LGBT Media and What My Women’s College Taught Me About Being Enthusiastically Queer to the volumes “A Queer Gaze,” and “Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Classroom Stories,” respectively. Her current project is Coming (Mo)home: New England Women’s Colleges, Queer Community, and the Cultivation of Sexual and Gendered Possibilities.