Visiting Professor Erika Alm: Critical Perspectives on Cisnormativity


WGSS is very excited to welcome Erika Alm, visiting professor from Gothenburg University, Sweden, to campus this fall. She will be instructing a course engaging with work stemming from trans* and intersex experiences.

Erika describes her academic background with a paraphrase of cultural theorist and feminist scholar Sara Ahmed: “I believe that education is part of a larger scheme, that of killing joy as a world-making project. It is my firm belief that critical thinking is the basis of sustainable knowledge, and that we all need to be sensitive to material and ideological constrains on knowledge claims and knowledge production.” To me Ahmed’s feminist kill joy is the quintessence of critical thinking: a figure that challenges taken for granted notions and norms and opens up for debates and changes. I hope to get the chance to explore norms on sex, gender and identity within and outside of academia with you this fall!”

Alm’s course (WGSST 5620: Critical perspectives on cisnormativity) engages with norms on sex, gender and identity in relation to the pathologization of trans* and intersex people and the scholarly, activist and community work that has grown out of reactions to such pathologizations. As a class, we will explore temporally and geographically situated examples of cisnormativity, as articulated in medical and juridical contexts, but the main focus will be an engagement with the prolific academic and activist work related to trans* and intersex experiences.

TuTh 3:55PM – 5:15PM
Mendenhall Lab 0175

There is still space available in this class! Don’t miss out on this unique course!

Memory is Resistance: Reclaiming Trans* & Queer History

Rachel Weber, a senior WGSS Graduate created these incredible and inspirational posters in order to celebrate and reclaim our rich queer and transgendered past. Thanks to Rachel for taking this step in editing history NOT to only be safe-for-straight-consumption!!






5 Reasons You Should Major in WGSS

In case there were any doubts about why Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is the best field of study, this article from (although not perfect) describes 5 reasons why majoring in Women’s Studies [WGSS] is a smart choice.

“When you choose this major, you become an agent — not a bystander — in the process of bringing humanity one step closer to equality. You do it not just for yourself, but for your partner, your family, and the future.”

Selfie Revolution by Riana Brewer

Selfie Revolution

WGSS Undergraduate Senior Riana Brewer created her own media-rich Ted Talk for an independent assignment in Professor Suchland’s senior seminar class. Brewer’s presentation discusses self-representation and how the rise in self-promotion on the internet (via selfies) challenges mainstream messages which overwhelm our society with images of white, cisnormative/heteronormative, and able bodied representations of beauty. Brewer runs a popular tumblr site called lezbhonest which seeks to proliferate images of non-normative expressions of love and identity. Brewer is in the process of creating a second video of interviews with people about their experiences as LGBTQ.

“The act of self-representation helps to break these narrowly defined roles and boundaries. When minority groups and individuals, such as queer people of color, take selfies, they are actively demonstrating against the narrow boundaries set forth by institutions. They are building a base of individuals that celebrate diversity and individualism. In the past, disciplinary control have forbid workers from wearing braided hairstyles common in Black culture. Selfies are reaffirming that wearing braided hair, performing gender, and being queer and happy is a positive act worth celebrating. Selfies from minority communities often receive hundreds to thousands of comments and “notes” that produces a psychological benefit to the uploader (feels better about self in a world that denies identity), affirmation for others in the community, and a certain “cool” factor or newfound appreciation from mainstream society”

Watch her video here:  Selfie Revolution Ted Talk


Spotlight on Deb Beight: Presenting at The Ohio University’s Upcoming Queer Studies Conference

debWomen’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies undergraduate, Debra Beight is dual majoring in Communication and WGSS with a minor in Sexuality Studies with the intention of pursuing an MPH in Public Health. Her main research interests involve women’s reproductive health, LGBTQ individuals and the media, and safe-sex practice representations in pornography. She is also a valuable member of the WGSS office team.

She will be presenting her most recent work at Ohio University’s Second Annual Queer Studies conference on April 11th. Her paper is called “Transgender Misrepresentations in the Paratexts of Motion Pictures: Masking the Authenticity of the Transgender Experience in TransAmerica and Boys Don’t Cry.” In it Debra deconstructs the promotional materials for the two films to identify the ways in which there is an attempt to normalize the transgender experience but at the compromise of an authentic transgender narrative. This summer she will be working with the Sociology department in a research project that examines gender inequality in hiring processes across various blue and white collar job markets.

Through the School of Communication, Debra is the 2014/2015 recipient of the Marcy Hill Memorial Scholarship and through the WGSS department she has been awarded the Robin Wiehm Writing Award as well as the Mildred Munday Scholarship.

Debra is in training to become a master sexpert with the Student Health Center and is also a member of the OSU chapters of the National Society of Leadership and Success, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is the incoming president of Triota, the WGSS honor society.  Off campus she has worked as an intern and a volunteer with both NARAL and Planned Parenthood and is a support group facilitator for the Columbus chapter of The Straight Spouse Network.


WGSS Grad Students Travel to Duke Feminist Theory Conference

On March 21 and 22, 2014, the 8th Annual Feminist Theory Workshop took place at Duke University. Erin Tobin, Phoebe Chen and I headed toward North Carolina to attend to this amazing event that required the immediate presence of WGSS students!

The keynote speakers at this year’s conference were: arch-famous Theoretical Physicist and Feminist Karen Barad from UC Santa Cruz; Professor Penelope Deutscher from Northwestern University; Professor Karen Engle from University of Texas; and Professor Alondra Nelson from Columbia University. They were amazing in four different ways and opened our senses to new realities that we weren’t aware of!

During the Friday session Professor Deutscher read a piece called: “This Death Which is Not One” where she explores a “conversation” between Derrida and Foucault and links both of them to issues such as the death penalty. It was an engaging and challenging talk, it made us think of the philosophers in our department and how they would have enjoyed it (Shannon Winnubst and Ellie Flohn). Later on, Professor Barad used quantum physics to complicate our conception of linearity of time called: “Re-membering the Future, Re(con)figuring the Past: Temporality, Materiality, and Justice-to-come”. We followed Dr. Barad through a presentation that engaged us in subatomic physics and made us think about justice. Professor Barad is also the co-Director of a program called Science and Justice in UCSC. The program is interdisciplinary and it’s aim is to think about justice while doing science, and not after (like it is normally done).

Saturday, Professor Nelson talked about “DNA Diasporas” in a truly interesting talk where she explained how DNA is being used to trace ancestry, by private companies, and how this research has a particularly deep meaning for the African American community. This is partly due to the US denial of ethnic politics to the African American people. Dr. Nelson used as a starting point in her conference the Combahee River Collective statement, to talk about identity politics and to remind us all where things come from. She then moved on to the New York African Burial Ground Project that was found in 1991 and explained how this finding was highly politicized. In the afternoon session Professor Engle’s talk was called: “The Grip of Sexual Violence: Reading UN Security Council Resolutions on Human Security”. In it, she explained three trends in human rights: sexual violence as the quintessential harm of war; criminal enforcement; and the use of celebrities for the cause (celebrity diplomacy she called it).

The conference was fascinating. We met feminists from all over the country and we had the chance to spend the weekend in a great University! We highly recommend the workshop and we are so grateful to the Department for giving us the opportunity to make this trip. We met people from Indiana University who told us that they would love to do the same thing OSU does and sponsor some of their students the next year. So we even inspired another university! – Sara Rodriguez Arguelles-Riva (PhD)

Pictured left to right: Sara Rodriguez Arguelles-Riva, Pheobe Chen, and Erin Tobin