Feminist Studies Department (University of California, Santa Cruz)

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The Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz constitutes one of the oldest departments of gender and sexuality studies in the world.[1] It was founded as a women's studies department in 1974. It is considered among the most influential departments in feminist studies, post-structuralism, and feminist political theory. In addition to its age and reputation, the department is significant for its numerous notable faculty, graduates, and students.


After its founding in 1974, the department became prominent in feminist studies research through the work of its scholars. The department works closely with the History of Consciousness program and the Humanities Division.

In 1990, Italian feminist, film theorist, and professor Teresa de Lauretis coined the term "queer theory" for the title of a Feminist Studies conference she organized at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She then edited a special issue of Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies with based on the conference. This title and issue helped establish "queer" as an identity rather than a slur.[2]

It received a $1 million grant from the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation in 2017, which named distinguished professor Bettina Aptheker the Presidential Chair of the endowment.[3]

Notable Faculty[edit]

The department has had numerous notable professors and affiliated faculty. In the early 1980s Bettina Aptheker, the leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and civil rights activist, became one of its first full-time faculty.

Angela Davis, among the most prominent writers in Feminist Studies, joined the department in 1991 and retired in 2008. She remains a Distinguished Professor Emerita.[4] During her tenure, she co-founded Critical Resistance and was involved in several University of California, Santa Cruz conferences.[5]

Writer and feminist philosopher Gloria E. Anzaldúa taught at the department for years. Before and during this time, she authored This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color and Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Anzaldúa suddenly died in 2004 while still teaching there.[6] She was posthumously awarded a doctorate in literature from her institution.[7]

Other notable faculty include Karen Barad,[8] B. Ruby Rich,[9] Marcia Ochoa,[10] Shelly Grabe[11] and Gina Dent.[12]

In addition, notable scholars such as bell hooks, Lisa Lowe, Sandy Stone, and Caren Kaplan attended lectures at the department in the 1980s while graduate students.[13][14]

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, J.M. (October 27, 2008). "Angela Davis, Iconic Activist, Officially Retires from UC-Santa Cruz". The Mercury News. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  • Boysen, Ryan (February 2, 2014). "History of Consciousness, Meet Future of Finance". City on a Hill Press. Retrieved September 25, 2016.


  1. ^ "About the Department". feministstudies.UCSC.edu.
  2. ^ David Halperin. "The Normalization of Queer Theory." Journal of Homosexuality, v. 45, pp. 339–343
  3. ^ "UC Santa Cruz receives gift to establish Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair for Feminist Studies".
  4. ^ "Angela Davis, iconic activist, officially retires from UC-Santa Cruz". 27 October 2008.
  5. ^ Rose Braz, Bo Brown, Leslie DiBenedetto, Ruthie Gilmore, and et al. "The History of Critical Resistance." Social Justice 27.3 (2000): 6-10. ProQuest. Web. 17 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Google sends another political message in its latest doodle". Independent.co.uk. September 26, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Cavna, Michael (September 26, 2017). "Gloria E. Anzaldua: Google Doodle salutes 'Borderlands' author who defied divisive bias". Retrieved January 12, 2018 – via www.WashingtonPost.com.
  8. ^ "Mirroring and Mattering: Science, Politics, and the New Feminist Materialism - Los Angeles Review of Books". LAReviewOfBooks.org. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Evolution of Queer Cinema".
  10. ^ "Profs: Orlando massacre caused by 'toxic masculinity,' 'extremist discourses'". 1 July 2016.
  11. ^ Grabe, Shelly; Hyde, Janet Shibley (1 December 2009). "Body Objectification, MTV, and Psychological Outcomes Among Female Adolescents1". Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 39 (12): 2840–2858. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00552.x.
  12. ^ "Angela Davis and Gina Dent: Reports From Palestine". 22 August 2012.
  13. ^ hooks, bell (1996). Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. ISBN 978-0-415-90808-5.
  14. ^ Stone, Sandy (1994). The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.