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Vivian M.  May

Vivian M. May

Director of the Humanities Center and Professor, Women's and Gender Studies
Women's and Gender Studies

301 Tolley Humanities Building

Research and Teaching Interests

Feminist theory and epistemology; Black feminist thought; African American literature; literature & social change; intersectionality; interdisciplinarity.


WGS 101 Introduction to Women's & Gender Studies

WGS 301 Feminist Theory

WGS 365 Negotiating Difference: Coming of Age Narratives

WGS 601 Feminist Theory

WGS 740 Feminist Theories of Knowing


  • Ph.D. Women’s Studies: Emory University, Atlanta, GA (1997)
    Dissertation:Dividing Lines and Binding Words: Border Subjectivity in Contemporary Canadian and American Literature
  • B.A. Humanistic Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1991) Graduated with Great Distinction as a University Scholar



Pursuing Intersectionality, Unsettling Dominant Imaginaries. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Anna Julia Cooper, Visionary Black Feminist: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Recent Articles

“Under-Theorized and Under-Taught: Re-Examining Harriet Tubman’s Place in Women’s Studies.” Meridians 12.2 (2014): 28-49.

“‘Speaking into the void’? Intersectionality Critiques and Epistemic Backlash.” Hypatia 29.1 (2014): 94-112.

“Writing the Self into Being: Anna Julia Cooper’s Textual Politics.” African American Review 43.1 (2009): 17-34.

“Anna Julia Cooper's Philosophy of Resistance: ‘What is needed, perhaps, to reverse the picture of the lordly man slaying the lion, is for the lion to turn painter.’” Philosophia Africana 12.1 (2009): 41-66.

“‘By a Black Woman of the South’: Race, Place, and Gender in the Work of Anna Julia Cooper.” Southern Quarterly 45.3 (2008): 127-52.

“‘It is never a question of the slaves’: Anna Julia Cooper’s Challenge to History’s Silences in Her 1925 Sorbonne Thesis.” Callaloo 31.1(2008): 903-18.

Recent Book Chapters

“Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964): Black Feminist Scholar, Educator, and Activist.” North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times. Ed. Michele Gillespie, Sally McMillen. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014. 192-212.

“Historicizing Intersectionality as Theory and Method: Returning to the Work of Anna Julia Cooper.” Interconnections: Gender and Race in American History. Ed. Carol Faulkner, Victoria Wolcott, Alison Parker. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012. 17-50.

“Intersectionality.” Rethinking Women’s and Gender Studies. Ed. Catherine Orr, Ann Braithwaite, Diane Lichtenstein. New York: Routledge, 2012. 155-172.

“Intellectual Genealogies, Intersectionality, and Anna Julia Cooper.” Feminist Solidarity at the Crossroads: Intersectional Women’s Studies for Transracial Alliance. Ed. Kim Marie Vaz, Gary L. Lemons. New York: Routledge, 2012. 59-71.

“Maids Mild and Dark Villains, Sweet Magnolias and Seeping Blood: Gwendolyn Brooks’ Poetic Response to the Lynching of Emmett Till.” Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination. Ed. Christopher Metress, Harriet Pollack. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008. 98-111.