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Core Faculty and Staff

Katherine Crawford


Chair – Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor – Gender and Sexuality Studies, History

Katherine Crawford is Director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. Her books include Perilous Performances: Gender and Regency in Early Modern France(Harvard University Press, 2004), European Sexualities, 1400-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2010). She is interested in the ways that gender informs sexual practice, ideology, and identity, both in normative and non-normative formations. She teaches a wide variety of classes in History and GSS on gender and sexuality. Read more.

Elizabeth Covington


Associate Chair – Gender and Sexuality Studies
Principal Senior Lecturer – English, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Elizabeth Covington is the Associate Chair and Senior Lecturer of the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies as well as Senior Lecturer in the English Department. She earned her Ph.D. in English literature from Vanderbilt. Elizabeth has published articles in Genre and Journal of Modern Literature, and she is currently working on a book about experimental psychological theories of memory and the emergence of modernist literature in Britain. She teaches a wide variety of classes in GSS and English. Read more.

Ellen Armour


E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology
Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality

Dr. Armour’s research interests are in feminist theology, theories of sexuality, race, gender, disability and embodiment, and contemporary continental philosophy. She is the author of Deconstruction, Feminist Theology, and The Problem Of Difference: Subverting the Race/Gender Divide (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor of Bodily Citations: Judith Butler and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2006), as well as a number of articles and book chapters. Her current book project, tentatively entitled Signs and Wonders: Theology After Modernity, will diagnose and craft a theological response to the shifts in our understanding of “man” and “his” others (sexed/raced, animal, and divine) as modernity declines. Read more.

Ackerly headshot 2020Brooke A. Ackerly


Professor – Political Science

Professor Ackerly is a Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University and co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Feminist Journal of Politics (2018-2021). In her research, teaching, and collaborations, she works to clarify without simplifying the most pressing problems of global justice, including human rights and climate change. Using feminist methodologies, she integrates into her theoretical work empirical research on activism and the experiences of those affected by injustice (Grounded Normative Theory). Read more.

Christopher (Kitt) Carpenter


Professor – Economics

Professor Carpenter is a health and labor economist who studies the effects of public policies on health and family outcomes. At Vanderbilt he is the Founder and Director of the TIPS-supported Vanderbilt LGBTQ+ Policy Lab, the Director of the Program in Public Policy Studies, and the faculty facilitator for Q&A (Queer & Asian). Carpenter is the Director of the NBER Health Economics Program, Editor at the Journal of Health Economics, a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Vice President of the Southern Economic Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Health Economists, and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession (CSQIEP). For his contributions to EDI at Vanderbilt, Dr. Carpenter was named the 2021-22 Joseph A. Johnson, Jr., Distinguished Leadership Professor. He has published widely on the effects of legal same-sex marriage, the causes and consequences of youth substance use, and the effects of public policies on health behaviors such as bicycle helmet use, seatbelt use, smoking, cancer screening, and vaccination. Carpenter’s research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. He earned his BA from Albion College (MI), and his PhD at UC Berkeley. Read more.

Nancy Reisman


Professor – English

Representative publications: Trompe L’Oeil (May 2015)The First Desire (Pantheon, NY 2004)House Fires (University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, IA 1999)Stories anthologized in O.Henry Award Stories 2005 (Anchor Books), Jewish in America (University of Michigan Press, 2004), Mother Knows: 24 Tales of Motherhood (Washington Square Press, 2004), Bestial Noise: A Tin House Reader (Bloomsbury Press, 2003), The Iowa Award: The Best Stories 1991-2000 (University of Iowa Press, 2001). Individual stories published in Tin House, Yale Review, Five Points, Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, Subtropics, Narrative, and other journals. Read more.

Laurel C. Schneider


Professor – Religious Studies, Religion and Culture

Laurel Schneider is a scholar of modern and postmodern Christian thought trained in gender theory, sociology of religion, and in Native American religious traditions. She is interested in intersectional questions of identity, meaning and divinity as they pertain to contemporary political and social questions of justice and liberation. Race, sexuality, culture, narrative, poetics, and colonial history cannot be separated in the make-up of persons, societies, or religions as if strands in a rope. Rather, identities and ideas—especially religious identities and ideas—come into being in the relationship. Because of this presupposition in her work she focuses on how ideas of divinity or of presence can be thought outside of narrow western constructions of meaning. Read more

Kathryn Schwarz


Professor – Gender and Sexuality Studies, English

Kathryn Schwarz received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1994. Her teaching and research interests include early modern literature and culture; feminist, queer, and gender studies; relationships between embodiment and social subjectivity; and theories of community. She is the author of What You Will: Gender, Contract, and Shakespearean Social Space (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), and Tough Love: Amazon Encounters in the English Renaissance (Duke University Press, 2000), which was awarded the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize for Literature in 2001. With Holly Crocker, she co-edited “Premodern Flesh,” a special issue of postmedieval (2013). Read more

Rory Dicker


Director – Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center

Rory Dicker joined the Women’s Center staff in January 2015 as Director. Rory grew up in New York and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in English and minored in French. After completing her Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt, Rory taught at Westminster College in Missouri for several years before returning to Vanderbilt to teach courses in English and in Gender and Sexuality Studies, where she was Associate Director for four years. The author of A History of U.S. Feminisms, Rory teaches classes about women and literature, feminist pedagogy, and the history of American feminisms. She spends much of her time outside of work with her husband and two daughters and tries to make it to the beach once a year. She considers herself a bookworm at heart and finds herself happiest when she is immersed in a great read.

Rebecca J. Epstein-Levi


Assistant Professor – Jewish Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Cornelius Vanderbilt Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Jewish Studies

Rebecca Epstein-Levi is a practical ethicist who works at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and the interpretation of classical Jewish texts. Her book project examines the moral and textual implications of treating sex as one species of social interaction among many and uses sex as a way to think of risk as a moral category. She has also published on Jewish resources against vaccine refusal, balancing collective and individual interests between Jewish ethics and feminist ethics, and the ethics of expertise in sexual health, and has interests in feminist bioethics, environmental ethics, disability studies, and the ethics of textual interpretation. In her copious free time, she enjoys cooking unnecessarily complicated meals and sharpening her overly large collection of kitchen knives. Read more.

Julie Gamble


Assistant Professor – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Director of Undergraduate Studies–Gender and Sexuality Studies

Julie Gamble is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Her current book project investigates urban mobility and the politics of care in Quito, Ecuador. She has also published single and co-authored articles related to gender and urban mobilities in journals like International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Antipode. She is interested in the ways that gender informs urban experience and how to build fairer cities. She teaches courses on gender, the city, urban mobilities, Latinx urban environments and sustainable urban development.

Danyelle Valentine


Senior Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies

Danyelle Valentine is interested in the forced and voluntary migration for enslaved peoples from the United States to islands in the British West Indies from the late 18th through the early 19th centuries. Her dissertation, Embarking on Revolutionary Migrations: The Black Loyalists’ Southern Campaign for Freedom during the Revolutionary Era, 1775-1862, explores the relocation and settlement experiences of “Black Loyalists” in Jamaica and other islands throughout the British Caribbean. In addition to her dissertation research, Danyelle investigates the intersections between race, gender, and capitalism within Creole societies in the British Caribbean.

Laura M. Carpenter


Associate Professor – Sociology

How does gender influence how sexuality and health unfold over the life course? My research examines how sexual and social experiences—such as sexual initiation, divorce, or the onset of chronic illness—affect a person’s sexual beliefs and behaviors later in life. I ask how individuals’ sexual biographies are shaped by broader cultural and historical changes, such as the sexual “revolution” of the late 1960s-early 1970s, and the invention of “revolutionary” pharmaceuticals. I focus on the ways in which intersections among gender, race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation influence these life course processes, and the intertwined dynamics of gender, sexuality, and health from birth until death. Read more

Shatema Threadcraft


Associate Professor – Gender and Sexuality Studies

I am the author of Intimate Justice: The Black Female Body and the Body Politic (Oxford University Press, 2016), winner of the National Women’s Studies Association’s 2017 Sara A. Whaley Award for the best book on women and labor, the 2017 W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the 2017 Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association’s Race, Ethnicity and Politics Organized Section (Best Book in Race and Political Theory). My article “Intimate Justice, Political Obligation and the Dark Ghetto” (Signs, 2014) was awarded the American Political Science Association’s 2015 Okin-Young Award, which recognizes the best paper on feminist political theory published in an English language academic journal in 2014. I was the 2017-2018 Ralph E. and Doris M. Hansmann Member at the Institute for Advanced Study and a Visiting Research Associate in the Department of Political Studies at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 2009-2012. My research has been supported by Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the Ford Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition.

Cara Tuttle


Director – Project Safe
Senior Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Cara Tuttle has served as Director of the Vanderbilt University Project Safe Center since its founding in 2014. Cara previously served as the Associate Director for Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity at Vanderbilt University and as Director of Programs for the Women’s Center at Northwestern University. Cara holds a JD from Vanderbilt University Law School, Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Louisville, and her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Ball State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Cara provides institutional advocacy on aspects of University response systems and processes involving sexual violence and represents the University on the AAU Advisory Board on Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination and the NASEM Action Collaborative to Prevent Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. Cara is the chair of the Provost’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention Committee and the University’s ROTC Officer Education Sexual Assault Prevention Committee. Cara previously served as co-chair of the University’s Women’s Advancement and Equity (WAVE) Council. Cara serves as a Senior Lecturer in the College of Arts and Science within the department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, for which she teaches the Seminar on Gender and Violence.  Recently, Cara co-authored Preventing Sexual Harassment and Reducing Harm by Addressing Abuses of Power in Higher Education Institutions for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Read more.

Kristen Navarro


Senior Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Kristen Navarro’s dissertation, entitled Adapted Bodies, Adapted Texts: Queer Survival via Early Modern Drama, explores the myriad ways in which the survival of queer bodies is abetted by filmic and theatrical adaptations of early modern dramatic literature. Her teaching and research interests also include popular culture, film and media studies, and writing/composition. She earned her PhD in English from Vanderbilt University.

Stacy Clifford Simplican


Principal Senior Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Stacy Clifford Simplican’s book, The Capacity Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship (2015), analyzes the role of intellectual and developmental disabilities in social contract theory and the disability rights movement. Some of Stacy’s articles appear in Contemporary Political Theory, Hypatia, Disability & Society, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching feminist theory to her three young children. She earned her PhD in Political Science from Vanderbilt University.

Jessica C Lowe


Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Jessica C. Lowe is a historian of early modern European religion and culture. Her research focuses on the negotiation tactics of Anabaptist groups who were regarded as sexually deviant, heretical, and seditious. Her work was recently published in the volume New Directions in the Radical Reformation (2023), and she is currently at work on her first book project. Jessica teaches courses on the history of sex in American society and on reproductive justice. Her teaching interests also include early modern sexuality and gender, sex and the supernatural, and the early modern European witch trials. She earned her Ph.D. in History from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt, Jessica taught for three years at Sewanee: The University of the South.

Kristin Rose


Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies

Kristin Rose’s dissertation, Women on the Wastes: Reimagining ‘Empty’ Environments in the Victorian Female Bildungsroman explores how some of the era’s most prolific women writers used the imaginatively charged landscape of the “waste” or “wasteland” to reimagine narratives of development beyond expropriative notions of British “progress.” Her teaching and research interests also include ecofeminism, environmental humanities, as well as narrative and novel theory.  She earned her Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University. She currently has an article forthcoming in NOVEL. 

 Jennifer Gutman


Lecturer – Gender and Sexuality Studies & English

Jennifer Gutman (she/her/hers) is a lecturer in English and Gender and Sexual Studies. She earned her joint-Ph.D. in English and Comparative Media Analysis & Practice (CMAP) from Vanderbilt. Her research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st-century Anglophone literatures, environmental humanities, novel theory, and media studies. Jennifer is currently working on a book about the relationship between risk and art at the onset of a new planetary epoch. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction and NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction.


Lara Lookabaugh


I am an interdisciplinary feminist geographer. My research engages decolonial and Indigenous geographies, feminist political geography, critical development studies, and geographies of memory in Latin America and the Southern United States. Through a 6-year participatory research collaboration with a Mam Maya women’s collective in Guatemala, my current project explores how the everyday political and artistic practices of Indigenous women create space to envision and enact alternative futures. A second strand of my research investigates the temporal politics of archives and libraries. I am a founding member of two editorial and writing collectives, Desirable Futures and Against Colonial Grounds, that bring together scholars to explore colonial constructions of time and futurity and the intersections of Black and Indigenous Geographies.




Charlotte Pierce-Baker


Professor Emerita

Charlotte Pierce-Baker received her B.A. in English from Howard University and the Master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Ohio State University. She was awarded the Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Applied Linguistics from Temple University. She served as Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt from 2009 to 2012 and has taught, researched, and written in the areas of American literature and women of color, applied linguistics and dialects, and more recently in the areas of trauma and gender violence. Pierce-Baker’s two books have disturbed discussion in their areas of inquiry: Surviving the Silence: Black Women‘s Stories of Rape (W.W. Norton, 2008, 2009) and This Fragile Life: A Mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son (Lawrence Hill Books, 2012).