Collaborative Research Clusters

The WGSS program has sponsored Collaborative Research Clusters under the generous auspices of the Northeastern University Humanities Center and the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Typically, these research clusters generate the topic and ideas for our annual Women’s History Month symposium. See below for more about their work.

The 2016-2017 Collaborative Research Cluster has been approved by the humanities center. This group will focus on the theme of Reproductive Justice.

 

2016-2017 Collaborative Research Cluster:
The Future of Global Reproduction: Technology, Law, Religion, Art

Group Members
Suzanna Walters, Professor, Sociology and Director, WGSS
Margot Abels, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Libby Adler, Professor, School of Law
Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor, School of Law
Gabriel Arkles, Associate Academic Specialist, School of Law
Moya Bailey, Assistant Professor, WGSS and Languages, Literatures, & Cultures; core faculty, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks
Jackie Gronau, PhD Candidate, History
Barbara Guthrie, Professor and Program Director, Nursing
Sarah Jackson, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies and Director, Humanities Center
Andrew Mazzaschi, Deputy Editor Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society
Serena Parekh, Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religion
Firuzeh Shokooh Valle, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Brooke Foucault Welles, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies and Network Science; core faculty, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks
Kathrin Zippel, Associate Professor, Sociology

About Our Research

The group will examine questions of reproductive justice and freedom through lenses of technology, law, religion, and art. Issues of reproductive justice are increasingly on the academic and public frontlines, as more and more restrictions are put in place by local and national jurisdictions. And the model of reproductive justice broadens both activist and academic purviews, linking discussions of abortion access with wide-ranging concerns about reproductive technology, reproductive tourism, the traffic in reproductive labor and its relation to other vectors of globalization, and how all these issues are imagined in popular culture, in art, in literature, in law. Students and faculty alike will find this topic critical in the current political environment and find the interdisciplinary “take” on global reproduction to provide a fruitful route for feminist theorizing.

Our research agenda is broad and wide-ranging and governed by the following types of questions:

2015-2016 Collaborative Research Cluster:
Gender and Carceral Complexes

Group Members
Suzanna Walters, Professor, Sociology and Director, WGSS
Margot Abels, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Wallis Adams, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Libby Adler, Professor, School of Law
Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor, School of Law
Gabriel Arkles, Associate Academic Specialist, School of Law
Moya Bailey, Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scholar, WGSS and Digital Humanities
Gia Barboza, Assistant Professor, African American Studies and Criminology & Criminal Justice
Carole Bell, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies
Jamie Bergeron, Program Coordinator, Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion
Candice Delmas, Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Political Science
Silvia Dominguez, Associate Professor, Sociology and Human Services
Amy Farrell, Associate Professor, Criminology & Criminal Justice
Kathryn Frazier, Lecturer, Psychology and WGSS Visiting Scholar
Natasha Frost, Associate Professor, Criminology & Criminal Justice
Kian Goh, Assistant Professor, Architecture
Barbara Guthrie, Professor and Program Director, Nursing
Sarah Jackson, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature & Professor of WGSS
Lauren Kuryloski, PhD Candidate, English
Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies and Director, Humanities Center
Rachel Lewis, PhD Candidate, English
Stu Marvel, WGSS Visiting Scholar
Andrew Mazzaschi, Deputy Editor Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society
Serena Parekh, Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religion
Joseph Reagle, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
Kara Swanson, Associate Professor, School of Law
Miriam Tola, Lecturer, Cinema Studies and WGSS Visiting Scholar
Melisa Trujillo, WGSS Visiting Scholar

About Our Research

Under the auspices of the Humanities Center during the 2015-2016 academic year, this group will focus on the broad, interdisciplinary, and topical theme of Gender in Carceral Complexes. We will examine the phenomenon of mass incarceration and the political, economic, and legal structures that surround and support it. In addition, we will engage with narrative fiction and popular culture that speaks to and with questions of incarceration, particularly as punitive and carceral apparatuses operate on gendered and sexed bodies. Given the out-of-control rates of mass incarceration in the US– and the ways this structures and impinges upon everyday life– it is vital to critically examine all aspects of this phenomenon. How sexuality and gender play out in the “carceral state” has become of increasing concern to activists and scholars working to create alternatives to mass incarceration.

The group’s primary goal is to provide an interdisciplinary and feminist framework for examining carcerality in multiple institutional, legal, theoretical, and cultural sites. The group will address questions of the privatization of incarceration, trans* in prison, treatments in prison (including mental health and trans* treatments), sex work regulation, Ferguson and hashtag activism, understanding feminist political economy, construction and representation of incarceration in literature and popular culture, and creating/examining specifically feminist and queer analyses of mass incarceration and alternatives to the carceral state.

2014-2015 Collaborative Research Cluster:
Feminist Theory 2.0

Group Members
Suzanna Walters, Professor, Sociology and Director, WGSS
Margot Abels, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Libby Adler, Professor, School of Law
Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor, School of Law
Gabriel Arkles, Associate Academic Specialist, School of Law
Carol Bell, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies
Moya Bailey, Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Scholar, WGSS and Digital Humanities
Amy Barber, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Communications Studies
Chris Chambers, Professor, Sociology
Laura Green, Professor and Chair, English
Juli Grigsby, Visiting Scholar, WGSS
Laura Hartmann-Villalta, PhD Candidate, English
Denise Horn, Assistant Professor, International Affairs and Political Science
Johna Iacono, Director, University Scholars Program
Sarah Jackson, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature & Professor of WGSS
Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies and Director, Humanities Center
Alisa Lincoln, Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology
Brett Nava-Coulter, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Serena Parekh, Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religion
Rachel Rosenbloom, Associate Professor, School of Law
Jesica Speed, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Communications Studies
Banu Subramaniam, Visiting Scholar, WGSS
Kara Swanson, Associate Professor, School of Law
Berna Turam, Associate Professor of International Affairs and Sociology
Brooke Foucault Welles, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies

About Our Research

Under the auspices of the Humanities Center during the 2014-2015 academic year, Professor Suzanna Walters convenes a group of feminist academics in research and discussion around the theme of feminist theory in the twenty-first century.

The group aims here to engage more broadly with key new texts and debates within feminist/queer/sexuality studies. Feminist theoretical work is constantly shifting and engaging with associated knowledge domains (e.g. critical race theory, postcolonial theory) and it is often difficult to “keep up” with current framings and reframings of the feminist project. We aim to read recently published texts (e.g. Clare Hemmings Why Stories Matter, Victoria Hesford’s Feeling Women’s Liberation) as well as journal articles in such venues as Signs, differences, Feminist Studies, etc. in order to engage directly with cutting-edge debates and theoretical innovations.

 

2013-2014 Collaborative Research Cluster:
Sexual Citizenship

Group Members
Suzanna Walters, Professor, Sociology and Director, WGSS
Aziza Ahmed, Associate Professor, School of Law
Amy Barber, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Communications Studies
Kimberly Brown, Assistant Professor, English
Peter Campbell, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Communications Studies
Laura Green, Professor and Chair, English
Denise Horn, Assistant Professor, International Affairs and Political Science
Sarah Jackson, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies
Shun Kiang, Ph.D. Candidate, English
Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies and Director, Humanities Center
Phyllis Thompson, Visiting Scholar, WGSS

__________________________________________

About Our Research

Under the auspices of the Humanities Center during the 2013-2014 academic year, Professor Suzanna Walters convened a group of feminist academics in research and discussion around the theme of sexual citizenship.

The topic of sexual citizenship has taken on added urgency in the current social and political climate. From same-sex marriage to immigration to reproductive rights and beyond, what it means to think through “citizenship” has increasingly been imagined as cross–cut not just with gender, race, and class but sexuality as well. The concept of sexual citizenship bridges the private and public, and stresses the cultural and political iterations of sexual expression and sexual and gender identity. Central texts such as historian Margot Canaday’s The Straight State and Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages interrogate how our very ideas of “citizenship” and “the state” are wrapped up in heteronormative assumptions, frameworks, and policies. Additional work by Brenda Cossman, Jon Binnie, Lauren Berlant, Shane Phelan, Chandan Reddy, and many others has provocatively investigated the “sexed” nature of citizenship claims and frameworks of national belonging.

This research cluster seeks to dig deep into this work, bringing it into closer dialogue with feminist theory and queer theory more broadly construed. What, we ask, is the relationship between theories of sexual citizenship and theories of gendered citizenship? How do these play out along cross-national vectors and along national vectors of race, class, and ethnicity? How is sexual citizenship activated in the “war on terror?” What models of sexual citizenship are implicit in current political contestations, such as those over same-sex marriage and immigration reform? What does “belonging” mean for citizens formally included but socially abject?

As a collaborative research cluster for 2013-2014, we provide an intellectual and collegial venue for interdisciplinary feminist/queer scholarship on campus to address these issues.

This work culminated in a one-day symposium “From Patriarchy to Pussy Riot: Gender, Sexuality, and Global Citizenship.” You can read more about the symposium and view footage from the event here.

 

 

2012-2013 Collaborative Research Cluster:
Body/Embodiment

About Our Research
As a WGSS/Humanities Center Working Group in 2011-12, our group met monthly for a set of fascinating, wide-ranging conversations, based on shared readings and presentations of works-in-progress. In 2012-2013, our group returned 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 work and collaboration among the universities has continued in 2013-2014.

 

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 for the 2012-2013 Collaborative Research Cluster:

Linda Blum

Linda 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 Fenton

Estye 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 Fleche

Anne Fleche is a Lecturer in film and drama at Northeastern University and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Leigh Gilmore

Leigh 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 Grenell

Ann 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 Kaufman

Debra 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 Poiger

Uta 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 Runyan

Amanda 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 Swanson

Kara 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.

Suzanna Walters

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.

Shannon Weber

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.