Mel Y. Chen

Mel Y. Chen

F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies at University of California, Berkeley
Mel Y. Chen

Mel Y. Chen is the Spring 2020 F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Harvard WGS and Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at U.C. Berkeley. 

Their research and teaching interests include queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory and Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics. Chen’s 2012 book, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke University Press, winner of Alan Bray Award from Modern Language Association’s GL/Q Caucus), explores questions of racialization, queering, disability, and affective economies in animate and inanimate “life” through the extended concept of “animacy.” A second book project concerns the relationships among the conceptual territories of “toxicity” and “intoxication” and their involvement in histories of the shared interanimation of race and disability. Further writing on topics such as cognitive disability and method, animal gendering in film, the racialization of pollution, and queer intimacies can be found in the journals Women’s Studies Quarterly, GLQ, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Discourse, Women in Performance, Australian Feminist Studies, Amerasia, Worldviews, and Medical Humanities (forthcoming). A co-edited special issue (with Dana Luciano) of GLQ on “Queer Inhumanisms” appeared in early 2015. With Jasbir K. Puar, Chen coedits a book series entitled “Anima,” highlighting scholarship in critical race and disability post/in/humanisms at Duke University Press. Chen served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies, ending in 2016.

In the Fall of 2009, Chen convened “Species Spectacles”, a U.C. Humanities Research Institute Residential Research Group focused on animality, sexuality and race. Chen’s short film, Local Grown Corn (2007), explores interweavings of immigration, childhood, illness and friendship; it has played in both asian and queer film festivals.

Courses Taught in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
WOMGEN 1455 Women, Men, and Other Animals
WOMGEN 2051 In These Times: Queer, Feminist, Experimental Methods

Contact Information

Boylston Hall G28
5 Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138

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