About Us

watercolor painting of Blake Hall, where WGSS is located, in room 318The WGSS Department is the center of thought and action on critical issues of gender and sexuality on the KU campus. We are committed to interrogating the boundaries that limit the personal and political wellbeing of individuals and communities. We believe one of the strengths of WGSS as a field is its merging of academic analysis and activism, as the two inform one another. 

The WGSS faculty is an interdisciplinary group of scholars spanning the humanities and social sciences and focusing on both the past and the contemporary world. Our particular strengths lie in the study of sexualities; law and social policy; and our focus on peoples of Africa and the African diaspora and indigenous North America. Many of us are dedicated also to the study and eradication of sexual and gendered violence in the United States and abroad. 

Our core faculty are excellent teachers, garnering recognition from students and from the university, including the Ned Fleming Trust Teaching Award and the Louise Byrd Graduate Educator Award. Our graduate teaching assistants have also won university-wide teaching, service, and research awards. WGSS undergraduate and graduate students have access to many outstanding teachers and research advisors, many of whom are members of the WGSS Advisory Board.

WGSS core faculty members are nationally and internationally regarded scholars, having won grants and fellowships from the ACLS, Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, HHS, Japan Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, NEH, NSF, Oxford University’s Rothermere American Institute, Schomburg Center, SSRC, and Wenner-Gren Foundation. In the last few years alone, faculty members have published seven books and numerous articles and book chapters. They appear regularly in the media commenting on their research in the context of contemporary gender politics, and they lecture across the country and around the world. WGSS faculty promote research on women, sexuality, and gender across campus, through active participation in campus research seminars and initiatives. WGSS faculty regularly direct the Gender Studies seminar in the Hall Center for the Humanities, which facilitates interaction among scholars across the University with interests in gender. The Department belongs to the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and faculty and graduate students regularly attend the national meetings to keep abreast of current trends and issues in the field. 

Above all the WGSS Department values collegiality and works to develop a community of scholars and students dedicated to using feminist thought and method for the betterment of all. 

Strengths

  • Sexualities—including the study of consent, gender-based violence, and queer history
  • Law and social policy—especially related to reproductive justice, human trafficking, marriage, and sexual violence 
  • Critical race studies—particularly related to peoples of Africa and the African diaspora and Native America
  • Feminism—feminist social movements, transnational feminist identity and migration, and black feminist theory
  • Feminist Methodsgender and the archives, feminist fieldwork, feminist empiricism, and feminist oral history

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