Message from our new Director, Professor Jen Nash!

Jennifer Nash, African American woman in a jean jacket in front of a wall of framed posters

Dear community,
I feel tremendously lucky to have the opportunity to serve as the Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.  It is a chance to champion the work of my amazing colleagues, and to foster intellectual community at Duke and beyond. I owe a debt of gratitude to Jocelyn Olcott who served tirelessly as Director for three years, and from whom I learned an immense amount about leadership, intellectual vision, and feminist community.  

I invite you to click on the links below to learn more about what we have been up to, and what we are dreaming up for this year.
New Faces

We welcome our brilliant new colleague, Nikki Lane, to the Department. Lane’s work focuses on race, gender, and popular culture, and black queer studies.  This semester, she’s teaching “Hot Girl Meg” and in the spring, she’ll offer “Black Feminist Theory” and “Queer Theory.”  You can learn more about her research and teaching here
We also welcome two postdoctoral fellows, Paniz Musawi Natanzi and Chaunesti Webb, and a visiting Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow, Arya Alvernas.  You can learn more about all three in this newsletter, and on our website
Innovative Programming

Frances Hasso and Anna Krylova developed this year’s research theme on Feminism Theory and Imperialism.  This fall, they are co-teaching an interdisciplinary seminar composed of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty, and organizing a live-streamed seminar on November 30, 2022 featuring Elena Gapova, Serene J. Khader, Maya Mikdashi, Xueping Zhong, and Françoise Vergès.  
Anna Storti and Emily Wang’s Minor Aesthetics: Queer Asian, Diasporic Symposium launches on October 12-13, 2022.  The symposium is the culmination of a year-long Minor Aesthetics project, a “space of provocation” that brings together artists and scholars from the fields of gender and sexuality studies and Asian American and Diaspora Studies.  
And this summer, I led the first annual Black Feminist Theory Summer Institute. It brought together twenty graduate students, ten from Duke and ten from other institutions, and eight senior scholars to participate in a weeklong conversation on the theme of Black life.

Our faculty continue to conduct groundbreaking interdisciplinary research, and to publish in leading journals in the humanities and social sciences.  To get a small sample of what our faculty are thinking and writing about now, check out Kathi Weeks’ analysis of family abolition and Kimberly Lamm’s engagement with Riddles of the Sphinx.   You can also learn more about Gabriel Rosenberg’s research team which was awarded funding from the inaugural Duke Science and Technology Launch Seed Grant Program to study the structural inequities faced by transgender people seeking health care.

Thanks to our colleagues who have taken on significant service roles that allow our Department to flourish: Ara Wilson for her service as Director of the Honors Program; Kathi Weeks for her service as Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Gabriel Rosenberg for his service as Director of Graduate Studies.   

… and there’s more to come!

We have a robust slate of events planned for this academic year. Matt Brim will deliver our Annual Queer Theory Lecture in honor of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. We have also begun a Gender Studies Now series. Scholars who have recently published cutting-edge books in the field will join us to discuss their new work. We are thrilled to host Neferti Tadiar, Ramzi Fawaz, Grace Lavery, and Jafari Allen.  You can learn more about all of our events on our website, and I hope to see you at some — or all! — of these events this year.
All of our intellectual and programmatic work is supported by the indefatigable labor of our staff: Amanda Archambeau, Julie Wynmor, and Jeremy Boomhower.
I close with words from June Jordan, Black Feminist theorist, poet, essayist, world-maker, and freedom-dreamer. Every fall, when the semester begins, I find myself swept up in the whirlwind of emails, classes, meetings, and events. There is so much to do, and it’s easy to feel breathless in the face of it all.  That’s when I return to Jordan and her ground-breaking work on Black Feminist pedagogy. In her famous essay “Where is the Love?” Jordan calls us to ask ourselves:  Where is the love? How is my own lifework serving to end … tyrannies, these corrosions of sacred possibility? Jordan’s words remind me to step back, to catch my breath, and to consider how our work aspires to do nothing less than to think the world anew, to open up “sacred possibility.”
With that, I wish you a fall semester full of possibility and promise.

Jennifer Nash