Graduate Secondary Field in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
A.M., Regional Studies East Asia
My academic interests have ranged widely over the years, from Japanese girl culture to American western wear. My curiosity about women’s history started as an undergrad at Willamette University in Oregon where I wrote a thesis comparing American romance novels to Japanese girls’ comic books. This experience in questioning cross-cultural gender norms brought me to Harvard to do an A.M. in Regional Studies East Asia. Enrolling in my first WGS courses at Harvard reaffirmed my fascination with femininity in popular culture, especially body culture. My masters’ thesis scrutinized the gendered and classed aspects of the Japanese acrylic nail industry. While doing research for this project, I became aware of the presence of American western wear in the Japanese fashion world. Switching my geographical area of focus, but pursuing my fascination with gender studies, I entered Harvard’s American Studies Ph.D. program.
The secondary field in WGS was vital to my success as a Ph.D. student at Harvard. WGS gave me a second home, provided me with excellent training, and supported my individual interests during graduate school as I worked with the outstanding and generous faculty through coursework, teaching, and research. My dissertation examined the performance of a gendered, sexualized, and racialized ideal of the American West over the twentieth century through the lens of marginalized forms of rodeo, including prison rodeo and gay rodeo. Professor Robin Bernstein guided me through the dissertation and job search process with steely determination and unwavering support.
Today I get to work with students and activists on issues of gender and sexuality in my home state of Idaho. As a newly hired Assistant Professor of American History at the University of Idaho, I am currently teaching a course on gender in the American West. I am also developing courses on the history of gender in popular culture and gender in fashion. Most excitingly, I have the opportunity to reach beyond the academic community by working with the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence and the Out West in the Rockies archives at the University of Wyoming, a collection dedicated to LGBTQ westerners.