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Core Faculty and Staff

Elizabeth Covington (she / her / hers)

Associate Chair of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Principal Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies and English
Programming Coordinator for Literary Studies

Elizabeth Covington is the Associate Chair of the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Principal Senior Lecturer in the English Department and Gender and Sexuality Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in English literature from Vanderbilt. Elizabeth has articles forthcoming 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.


Katherine Crawford (she / her / hers)

Chair of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies and History

Katherine Crawford is Chair of the Department of 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.

Rebecca J. Epstein-Levi (she / her / hers)

Mellon Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Gender and Sexuality 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.

Check out Professor Epstein-Levi’s recent blog posts on Bitch Media:

“Pausing the Panic Button: Can Religious Scholarship Teach Media Literacy?”

“The Problem with Individualizing COVID Risk”

K. Allison Hammer (they / them / theirs)

Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Allison Hammer (they/them) is a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies and has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Their work extends across the fields of queer and feminist theory, disability, masculinity, and transgender studies. Their articles have appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies,Transgender Studies Quarterly, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, among others.Their upcoming book project, Unruly Alliance: Masculinity, Friendship and the Politics of Mutual Aid, offers a series of meditations on queer masculinities that depart from toxic norms. Unruly Alliance analyzes shifting relationships to masculinity in twentieth-century canonical works of literature and film as well as in twenty-first century media, performance, and transgender poetics. Unruly alliances reject the nationalisms and gender politics of white male hegemony and perform an urgently needed re-imagining of what it means to be masculine.

Amanda Kinard (she / her / hers)

Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Amanda Kinard is a Lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She received her PhD in English from Vanderbilt University in 1998. Her dissertation, Forbidden Pleasures: The Romance and Its Readers, explored the complex relationship between intentional structure and cultural symptom in women’s popular fiction from the early 19th to the late 20th centuries. Amanda also had a corporate career with Ingram Book Company, where she published articles about authors from Jane Austen to Lemony Snicket. In addition to feminist literature, her teaching interests include gender in popular  culture, intersectional analysis, concepts of class mobility, genre construction, poetic forms and techniques, 19th and 20th century British authors, and classical literature in translation. She and her husband have two teenaged sons.

Kristen Navarro (she / her / hers)

Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Kristen Navarro is a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She received her PhD in English from Vanderbilt University in 2017. Her 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.


Stacy Clifford Simplican (she / her / hers)

Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Stacy Clifford Simplican is a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She received her PhD in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2011. Her 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.

Shatema Threadcraft (she / her / hers)

Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science

Shatema Threadcraft is 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). Her 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. She 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. Her 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 Bell

Director of Project Safe
Senior Lecturer of Gender and Sexuality Studies

Cara Tuttle Bell has served as Director of the 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 was selected as the 2015 recipient of the Mary Jane Werthan Award, which is presented to a member of the Vanderbilt community who has contributed to the advancement of women at Vanderbilt on a systemic level. The award is named in honor of Mary Jane Werthan, the first woman member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust. In 2016, Cara received the K.C. Potter Outstanding Service to Students Award from the Vanderbilt University Office of the Dean of Students. In 2017, Cara was nominated to participate in Vanderbilt Leadership Academy, a nine-month learning journey for high-performing leaders from academic and administrative areas at both Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Cara serves as a Senior Lecturer in the College of Arts and Science within the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, for which she teaches the Seminar on Gender and Violence. Cara provides institutional advocacy on aspects of University response systems and processes involving sexual violence and represents Project Safe on various University task forces and committees, including the Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and the Officer Education Sexual Assault Prevention Committee. Cara was recently named co-chair of the University’s Staff Steering Committee for Women’s Initiatives.

Danyelle Valentine (she / her / hers)

Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, and American Studies