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If you'd like to learn more about women's studies, the courses I teach, or my research,
please contact me by email or come to see me during my office hours.
In 2011, I started my work at Cal State San Marcos as Program Director and the first
tenure-track faculty member in Women's Studies. With a focus on women's experiences
and feminist theory, my research and teaching focus on peace and justice activism,
feminist pedagogy, folklore studies, and the politics of culture.
This website managed by Kristine Wise.
I am a first-generation college graduate, and I understand how difficult and simultaneously
exhilarating that experience can be. My educational approach centers on giving students
the desire and tools to take charge of their own learning, reclaiming their educational
experience so that it becomes a meaningful and empowering force in their lives and
the world around them. For me, education is about developing a deeper understanding
of life and human experience, so that we can use this knowledge to combat injustice
My teaching philosophy involves facilitating rather than dictating, encouraging students
to take responsibility for their educational processes rather than passively memorizing
course material. I work with students to challenge the complacency that contemporary
U.S. culture fosters in many ways, unlearning what the dominant culture assumes to
be true. For me, education is a way to challenge injustice and improve the quality
of life for all people, particularly those who are disadvantaged, marginalized, and
Teaching is my passion, and I have always loved the excitement and exhilaration of
learning. I believe that education is our brightest hope for the future. The sparking
of ideas in a classroom–empowering and enabling students to think critically, ask
tough questions, analyze data and examine assumptions, learn to see-hear-feel-think
in new ways, and developing students' leadership potential so they feel motivated
to take action–these are what fuel my love of teaching and research.
Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
Anthropology (Specializations in Folklore Studies, Women's Studies, 1990)
Dissertation Title: "The Ribbon around the Pentagon: Women's Fabric Arts as a Vehicle
for Social Critique"
Professor and Associate Professor,
Department of Women's Studies
California State University San Marcos
Additional Education Information
San Diego Regional Programs,
University of Redlands, San Diego, CA
Associate Professor and Assistant Professor,
Department of Women's Studies,
State University of New York at Albany
Current Areas of Research
Analysis of the Annual Ramona Pageant; Women and Gender Issues in Peace and Justice
Movements; U.S. Military Violence Against Women; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
Students' Participation in High School Proms; Transformative Feminist Pedagogy; Critical
Gender Analysis of Disney Culture, Mermaids Folklore
One of my recent interests is the politics of culture and, specifically, representations
of gender and sexual identity, race, and nationality in Disney animated films. Here's
a link to a book that includes my analysis of "Disney's Enchanted, Patriarchal Backlash and Nostalgia in a Fairy Tale Film."The essay was published in Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity , 2010 (click on "Open full view of book sample" for the table of contents).
I've been studying and documenting the peace activism of Cindy Sheehan since 2005.
Her son, Casey Sheehan, was killed in the Iraq War in April 2004. Cindy became a leader
in the movement to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq when she traveled to George W.
Bush's ranch in Crawford, TX, asking to meet with him so he could explain the "noble
cause" (Bush's words to describe the deaths of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq) for which her
son was killed. Here's a photo essay I wrote about Cindy Sheehan's 2007 "Mother of
a March" in Washington, DC:
"Ramping Up the Call to Action: Mothers Tell Congress to End the War Now,"
Code Pink, May 17, 2007.
Critics suggested that Boyle's popularity was just a fad, but the naysayers were wrong.
She has continued to thrill audiences even after she was voted second place in the
May 2009 final competition of "Britain's Got Talent." Her television special, "I Dreamed
a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story," featuring a duet with English musical theater star
Elaine Paige, aired on December 13, 2009, attracting ten million viewers in the United
Kingdom and ranking as the high estrated U.S. television special in the TV Guide Network's
history. It is a testimony to her popularity that, in May 2010, a Time magazine poll
named her the seventh most influential person in the world, 14 places above Barack
Obama,who received one fifth of her votes, and 57 places above French
President Nicolas Sarkozy. Despite her popular acclaim, many pundits continued to
portray Boyle as a helpless female whose unexpected success would ultimately lead
to her downfall. Here is a photo essay I wrote about her: "Taking Another Look at Susan Boyle,
One Year Later," http://archive.truthout.org/taking-another-look-susan-boyle-one-year-later60643
Additional Research Information
Courses Taught at Cal State San Marcos
Women's Studies 101: Introduction to Women's Studies
Women's Studies 300: Beauty and Body Image
Women's Studies 300: Collaborative Research Practices
Women's Studies 300: Disney Films: Gender and Sexuality in Animated Movies
Women's Studies 301: Gender and Race in Contemporary Society
Women's Studies 303: Education, Gender and Race
Women's Studies 321: Feminist Pedagogy in Practice
Women's Studies 325: Folktales of Strong Girls & Women in the Middle East, Africa
Women's Studies 398: Independent Study
Women's Studies 401: Women in Peace and Justice Movements
Women's Studies 401: 20th Century Feminist Thought: Popular & Folk Culture
Women's Studies 450: Cinema and Gender
Women's Studies 490: Feminist Perspectives: Theories & Research
Women's Studies 495: Internship in Women's Studies
Women's Studies 499: Independent Research in Women's Studies
Additional Course Information
University of Texas, Austin
Anthropology (Specializations in Folklore Studies, Women's Studies)
Dissertation Title: "The Ribbon around the Pentagon: Women's Traditional
Fabric Arts as a Vehicle for Social Critique," M. Jane Young and Kathleen
Stewart, Dissertation Committee Co-chairs.
Areas of Teaching Expertise
Women's Studies Core Curricula; Feminist and Alternative Pedagogies; Peace and Justice
Movements; Folklore Studies; Popular Culture; Feminist Folklore Theory; Feminist Film
Recent Research and Scholarship
"From Sorrow to Activism: A Father's Memorial to His Son Alexander Arredondo, Killed
in the U.S. Occupation of Iraq," with Nishelle Bellinger. 2010. Journal of American
Folklore 123(488):179-217. Analysis of the ways in which gender,
ethnicity, and class shape the public expression and peace activism of a first-generation
immigrant father, whose son was killed in the Iraq War.
"Disney's Enchanted: Patriarchal Backlash and Nostagia in a Fairy Tale Film," with
Lisa Gablehouse. 2010. In Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity, eds. Pauline Greenhill
and Sidney Eve Matrix, pp. 137-156. Logan: Utah State University Press. Critical analysis
of sexism, racism, heterosexism, and classism in Disney's recent fairy tale film.
"Cindy Sheehan: A Call to Maternal Activism in the Contemporary Peace Movement." 2009.
In Sara Ruddick's Maternal Thinking: Philosophy, Politics, Practice, ed. Andrea O'Reilly,
pp. 144-159. Toronto: Demeter Press. Analysis of Sheehan's activism and correlations
to Ruddick's theory of maternal thinking.
Full Curriculum Vitae
My Research Involves Peace & Justice Activism
Dec. 2010, peace action in Washington, D.C., organized by Veterans for Peace. Cal
State San Marcos student Kristine Wise and I traveled to Washington to document over
120 activists gathering in front of the White House and
handcuffing themselves to the fence. The called on President Obama to meet with them
and to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Daniel Ellsberg,
who leaked the Pentagon Papers that helped bring
an end to the Vietnam War, was among them.
My essay about this Peace event
Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial to Life, Oct. 2010: a campus wide display I organized
with four undergraduate student activists, Stacy Ambriz, Nishelle Bellinger, Rachel
James, and Jasmine Perez. Douglas Mackey designed the memorial to mourn the enormous
loss of life resulting in the wars -an estimated 847,000+ Iraqi and 19,800+ Afghan
civilians were killed between 2003-2010. We also commemorated the over 5,000 U.S.
soldiers who have died in the wars.
A marker to an anonymous Iraqi woman, identified only by her husband's name, who was
killed in the Iraq War.
Brochure from an evening program during the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial to Life.
November 2010, I accompanied a group of students on a trip to the annual vigil at
the School of the Americas (now known as WHINSEC), at Fort Benning, GA. The event
draws thousands of activists from across the U.S. and Latin America. A large peace
vigil takes place outside of the gates of the fort, where Latin American soldiers
travel to learn "enhanced interrogation" and terror techniques, that have, in turn,
been used against the people in their own
countries. The 2009 military coup in Honduras was orchestrated by men who were trained
at the School of the Americas, which is funded by U.S. tax dollars.
Students at the School of the Americas vigil, standing in front of the gates at Fort
Benning, November 2010.
Cal State San Marcos students at the School of the Americas vigil, November 2010.
November 2010, march to the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, GA, a prison for
people awaiting trials for immigration violations. People have been detained for months
or years without due process. Together a group of Cal State San Marcos students and
I participated in this event.
April 2010, I invited internationally renown Scholar Cynthia Enloe to campus to talk
about the interconnections between militarism, war, and women's lives.
Constance McMillen and her partner at the San Diego LGBTQ Pride Parade in July 2009.
Constance was honored because she worked with the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the
Itawamba County School District in Mississippi because they tried to prevent her from
bringing a female date to the prom. Cal State San Marcos student Jennifer Meneray
and I are writing an essay for publication about LGBTQ students and high school proms,
particularly the recent development of same-sex couples running for, and being selected
as, prom queens and kings.
Cal State San Marcos students joined me for a 2009 field trip to Manzanar Internment
Camp, now a national historic site. Here Japanese Americans were imprisoned in the
California desert during WWII in respone to racism and xenophobia that flourished
during the war. Hank Yamamoto, who was interned in the camp as a boy, is in the front
row and served as our guide for the visit.
This is a 2007 photo I took of Carlos Arredondo, whose son Alexander was killed in
the Iraq War. As a result of his experience with the death of his son, Carlos became
a peace activist who has traveled across the country calling for an end to U.S. military
involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is shown with a portable memorial he created
to honor Alex - here he leads a massive 2007 peace march in Washington, D.C., against
the wars. Cal State San Marcos student Nishelle Bellinger helped with the research
for our essay, "From Sorrow to Activism: A Father's Memorial to His Son Alexander
Arredondo, Killed in the U.S. Occupation of Iraq," (Journal of American Folklore, 2010, Volume 123, Issue 488, pages 179-217). The article offers an analysis of the ways
in which race, gender, class, and national identity shape the public expression and
peace activism of a first-generation immigrant father, whose son was killed in the
Empowering Students to Change the World
I see my work in education as opening doors, enabling and empowering students to work
hard and effectively, recognize and develop their talents, and put their learning
to work to make a difference in the world.
|I encourage women's studies students to become activists on campus and in the community.
Here Jenn Meneray (right) and Arianna Rivera (left) raise their voices in an April
2011 campus rally calling for funding for the California State University system.
|Women's Studies major Kristine Wise joins the April 2011 rally to convey the need
to fund state university education.
|I encourage students to study and travel in other countries so they can broaden and
deepen their understandings of the world. Kirsten Quinn took my suggestion to heart
and spent her final semester studying at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. I went
to visit her during spring break in March 2011. Here she sits atop an enormous version
of the wooden toy horses that Swedes traditionally use to commemorate Christmas.
In October 2010 students worked with me and a group of community activists to install
a weeklong display of the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial to Life, with thousands of
markers to represent Iraqis, Afghans, and U.S. military personnel who have been killed
in the wars.
Here Kristine Wise (right) speaks during a noontime program while Nishelle Bellinger
(left) holds a photo.
|One of my ongoing research projects focuses on the annual Ramona Pageant in Hemet,
CA. Here two students, Patricia Mendoza (left) and Krystal Pliego (right), pose next
to a statue of Ramona. We worked on this project together in the Spring 2010.
Nancy Martinez-Molano and I worked together to conduct research on the raped, murdered,
and "disappeared" girls and women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Nancy took the lead to
create a large campus event on this topic and invited as a guest speaker one of the
mothers of a young woman who was killed in Juárez.
Here's Nancy standing next to an altar of remembrance students created as part of
that March 2005 event.
Working closely with 2004 Women's Studies graduates
Top left to right: Monica Strang, Joanne Henry, Becky Lagger Middle left to right:
Amy Brooker, Julie Sullivan Laube Lower: Christine Fowler