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Gender Studies

Q&A with adjunct faculty member Sara Appel

November 15, 2016

The Gender Studies Department is happy to welcome adjunct faculty member Sara Appel. Sara will be teaching GEND 200: Gender & Sexualities in the United States this spring, along with a section of Exploration & Discovery (CORE-107) which focuses on social class.


Where are you from? Where did you study while you were a college student?

I’m originally from Saint Helens, Oregon. I’m the oldest of four sisters, and the first person in my family to go to college. I attended the University of Oregon where I studied English and Philosophy. I then went on to earn my PhD in Literature, and a graduate certificate in Feminist Studies, from Duke University in Durham, NC.


How did studying Gender Studies in college affect your understanding of the world?

Having grown up in a woman-centric, working-class family, I’ve taken great pride in always treating other women as allies.Falling in love with feminist theory and queer studies in college was therefore more of a homecoming for me than an awakening. Even before I had the language to articulate the meaning of the concept to myself, I’ve always known I was a feminist.

Do you have a specific focus within gender studies?

My work has largely been focused on bringing more attention to social class as one “vector” among many in intersectional feminist discourse. My current book project grapples with how poor, working-class, and middle-class people experience upward class mobility as an incremental phenomenon. It features analysis of contemporary American fiction and visual texts (films, TV shows, and comics). I’m interested in upward class mobility as a process of community building and interdependence—how working-class women in particular help each other get a leg up—rather than as the sign of an “exceptional” individual’s success.

What  ideas are you hoping that Lewis & Clark students will leave your class with?

I’m hoping that my students will come to understand that feminism is every bit as much about solidarity, or support of one another, as individual self-expression. I also hope to learn more about how gender, sexuality, race, class, and other forms of identity and experience color my students’ everyday lives. Let’s help each other interrogate our deepest assumptions, from a place of generosity and respect for our differences!


What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Dancing (80’s new wave and hip-hop, ideally), karaoke, hiking, avoiding the rain, writing poetry, and more Netflix than I’d like to admit!


By Nicolette Natale ’19 


To see all the Gender Studies courses we offer in the spring, you can look here


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