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Faculty Feature: Dr. Kristan Poirot

Dr. Kristan Poirot has always been interested in gender because of her experiences growing up as a woman. One of the pivotal moments for her was in high school. She wanted to be a lawyer, so she started going to all the military recruitment offices and asking how to get involved and get help paying […]

Dr. Kristan Poirot has always been interested in gender because of her experiences growing up as a woman. One of the pivotal moments for her was in high school. She wanted to be a lawyer, so she started going to all the military recruitment offices and asking how to get involved and get help paying for college. One day in the Navy’s office, they asked her what she wanted to do with her degree. After explaining that she wanted to be a lawyer, they said: “Well, you have to be really smart to go to law school.” Even though she told them she was in honors and debate, she was handed a pamphlet to be a legal secretary for the navy because that was “more up her alley.” “It was the first experience that I remember consciously having an awareness that they are responding to me because I’m a woman,” Dr. Poirot said.

After taking an undergraduate Sociology of Gender class, where they read black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins, she decided to go to graduate school. From that point forward, gender became the focus of her graduate career.

Dr. Poirot’s primary research interest focuses on the public expression or public articulations of identity and how identity is made and remade in different contexts. Her book A Question of Sex looks at how feminist movements have interrogated the question “what it means to be a woman” over time. She has recently been interested in black freedom movements, the representations of those movements, how gender is a part of the black freedom struggle, and to what extent that has or hasn’t been represented in memorials.

One of Dr. Poirot’s inspirations is Diane Nash. She is still in the black freedom struggle and is largely credited with saving the freedom rides of 1961 and committed to non-violence and civil disobedience. Dr. Poirot had read extensively about Nash’s activism and then had the honor of actually having dinner with Nash a few years ago when she was the speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast hosted by the MSC Carter G. Woods Black Awareness Committee.  “The energy around her was so inspirational, but also I got to experience a little bit what it is like to live in a commitment to non-violence for change. It was inspirational,” Dr. Poirot shared.

Dr. Poirot’s favorite classes to teach are WGST 200 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies and WGST 401 Feminist Theory. She shares that those classes are a way for students to find a safe space to talk and learn more about important issues that they are interested in. “It’s in those classes where you get to witness your students’ “aha” moments, which is very rewarding as a professor. You get to see the impact the knowledge has on the students.”

Dr.Poirot’s book/article recommendation for students:

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed

 

Links for Story:

Ahmed’s book: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59b02ee849fc2b75ee0772cf/t/5b097a470e2e723b74306a54/1527347798402/sara-ahmed-living-a-feminist-life-1.pdf

Kristan’s book:

https://www.amazon.com/Question-Sex-Feminism-Rhetoric-Differences/dp/1625340885/

Diane Nash information:

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/nash-diane-judith

Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought:

https://www.routledge.com/Black-Feminist-Thought-Knowledge-Consciousness-and-the-Politics-of-Empowerment/Collins/p/book/9780415964722