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Bringing Theory to Life

The Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is home to a leading Ph.D. program, a vibrant undergraduate curriculum, and accomplished scholars who work across disciplines


The Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Emory University is proud to support a generous and pluralistic understanding of the academic field of women’s studies in its teaching, research, and public scholarship.

Our vision is to bridge the worlds of theory and social justice that exist both inside and outside the classroom. We are dedicated to training our undergraduate and graduate students to apply these theories to their own scholarship and to prepare them for meaningful and successful careers.

Our department foregrounds interdisciplinary analyses of sex, gender, and sexuality through feminist, queer, and trans studies. Faculty in WGSS have expertise in law, neuroscience, anthropology, political science, history, philosophy, ethics, literary theory, psychoanalysis, critical studies of race, postcolonial theory, globalization, immigration, and science and technology studies.

We are the first WGSS PhD-granting degree program and are consistently ranked as one of the very best WGSS graduate programs in the United States. Learn more about our graduate program.

In our undergraduate program, we emphasize learning through an interdisciplinary lens focused on critical thinking and analysis, writing and research, imagination, and creative expression. Our majors pursue a variety of post-graduate pathways in multiple fields. Learn more about our undergraduate program.

Responding to Anti Asian Violence

March 2021
The Department of WGSS at Emory wants to register and acknowledge the senseless violence, primarily directed against of women of Asian origin, here in Atlanta. Anti-Asian violence has been a constant for decades, and this most recent tragedy has affected members of the larger Atlanta community here. We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community in Atlanta and beyond.

Black Lives Matter Statement

The faculty of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We stand by the protesters who have been marching in the streets and engaging in creative actions to challenge anti-Blackness wherever it arises. We condemn the long-standing histories and policies of police brutality in the United States that have murdered, incarcerated, and disenfranchised Black people. We abhor the structural inequalities that have left Black people and others disproportionately vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and George Floyd are not isolated incidents, but are part of a pervasive pattern of structural and institutionalized anti-Blackness. We support decarceration, defunding the police, and working to dismantle systemic and structural anti-Blackness.

As scholars of Women's and Gender Studies, we acknowledge the centrality of Black women to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement since the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. We acknowledge US Black women’s long history of struggle to escape and abolish slavery, to resist Jim Crow and lynchings - as seen in the work of pioneering theorist and activist Ida B. Wells - and to fight policies of policing, welfare, healthcare, and incarceration that target and dehumanize Black communities. We support the Say Her Name campaign to find justice for the Black women killed by police: Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Alexia Christian, Michelle Cusseaux, Korryn Gaines, Meagan Hockaday, Charleena Chavon Lyles, Kayla Moore, Aura Rosser, Breonna Taylor...

We also recognize that anti-Black violence is gendered in complex ways that affect all Black people. We denounce the ways that Black men and boys are rendered vulnerable to police and vigilante violence. We denounce the brutal attacks and the police and state violence faced by Black trans and non-binary folks, particularly Black trans women.

Audre Lorde, speaking of Black women’s in/visibility, has said: “In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live. Within this country where racial difference creates a constant, if unspoken, distortion of vision, Black women have on one hand always been highly visible, and so, on the other hand, have been rendered invisible through the depersonalization of racism.”

She urges us to listen and become involved when she says: “And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives. That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own.”

We affirm that we want to take up her challenge. We recognize Emory University’s anti-Black history and the ways that history persists to this day, not least as revealed in the contributions of Emory’s Black faculty to #BlackintheIvory. We recognize that, as faculty, we are complicit in institutionalized anti-Blackness. We have much work to do and we recognize that it will not be easy. We stand committed to taking on that work with renewed energy. We are committed to reviewing departmental protocols and practices with a view to dismantling structural, institutional, and intellectual racism and anti-Blackness. We are inspired by those who have led this movement to dismantle our country’s racist foundations. We pledge to do all that we can to align Emory and our department with the principles of racial justice the Black Lives Matter movement embodies.

We affirm the centrality of the study of race, racism, and racial justice in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as a discipline and in the pedagogical and scholarly mission of our department in particular. We will strengthen our individual and collective efforts to learn more, to appreciate more the brutalities of racism and to practice anti-racism in our curricula, our research, and our relationships with each other – while recognizing and supporting all who have done and continue to do such extremely important, hard work. We must seek and identify more and better ways to recruit and support Black students and colleagues and to value their work in the academy, in WGSS, at Emory, and within our department. Now more than ever, we must do our best to make concrete the equitable, safe, and supportive learning environment we want and need. We know that we will struggle, make mistakes, and fail at times. But we will not let that stop us.