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Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Faculty

From physiology to cinema and photography, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies is comprised of a wide variety of core faculty and staff. We want your education to cover all bases that effect every topic that you're passionate about!

Lisa Brooten, Associate Professor

Radio, Television, and Digital Media

Lisa Brooten, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Media at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, USA. Her research and publications focus on authoritarianism and media, human rights and media, media reform and democratization, social movement media, community and indigenous media, and the interplay of journalism, media reform advocacy and affect and trauma. Her regional expertise is in Southeast Asia, especially Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, where she has travelled and conducted fieldwork for many years, including a Fulbright Research Fellowship in 2007-2008, and an ASEAN Fulbright Research Fellowship in 2021-2022. She has consulted for Freedom House, Radio Free Asia Burmese Service and PEN American Center. She is an associate editor of Media Asia and lead editor of Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change (ISEAS, 2019).

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Lisa Brooten

Office: COMM 1050G

Cindy Buys, Professor of Law

Professor Buys joined the SIU School of Law faculty in 2001, where she has served as a Professor, Director of International Law Programs, and Interim Dean. She is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and has been a Visiting Professor at both Bangor University in Wales and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland. She has received both the Outstanding Teacher of the Year and the Outstanding Scholar of the Year as well as other state and national awards for her work and her service.

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Cindy Buys

Office: Lesar Law Building 258
Phone: 618-453-8743
curriculum vitae

Francesca Dennstedt, Assistant Professor

Spanish, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Francesca Dennstedt received her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also completed a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her main areas of research are twentieth-century and contemporary Mexican literature and culture with a focus on gender and queer theory. Her work engages with questions of queer temporality, canon formation, and the nation through critical readings of Mexican women’s cultural production.

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Francesca Dennstedt

Office: Faner 2021
Phone: 618-453-5429
Curriculum Vitae

Jane Elizabeth Dougherty, Associate Professor

Dr. Dougherty is a scholar of Irish women’s literature of the eighteenth-, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. She teaches courses on Irish literature and culture, cultural studies, and composition. 

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Jane Elizabeth Dougherty

Office: Faner, Room 2262
Curriculum Vitae

Laurel Jean Fredrickson, Associate Professor

Art History

Laurel Jean Fredrickson (Ph.D., Duke, 2007) is a historian of contemporary and modern art with a global emphasis. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on cross-cultural and transnational intersections of experimental art and political dissent from the 1960s to the present.

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Laurel Jean Fredrickson

Allyn Building 6D
Curriculum Vitae

Allison Hammer, Assistant Professor and WGSS Coordinator

K. Allison Hammer is an interdisciplinary scholar and critic of American culture, gender, and sexuality in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Their work brings together a diverse archive of historical and contemporary literature, performance, film, and media. As a professor, they are interested in helping students understand and theorize the complexities of gender and sexuality in transnational contexts and the relationship to race, colonialism, and permanent war.

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Allison Hammer

Office: Faner 4034
Phone: 618-453-7147
Curriculum Vitae

Maria Johnson, Associate Professor


Maria Johnson is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale where she regularly teaches two CORE Curriculum courses-- Music 203 - Diversity & Popular Music in American Culture and Music 303I - Women, Blues & Literature, offers topics courses in Ethnomusicology-- Women in Music and Music and Social Change, and supervises graduate and undergraduate independent studies in ethnomusicology.

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Maria Johnson Office: OBF 215
Phone: 618-453-2073

Jacob Juntunen, Associate Professor, Dramatic Theory, Criticism, and Playwriting

Jacob Juntunen is a playwright and theatre scholar whose work focuses on theatre’s role in forming national imagined communities, paying particular attention to marginality.

His first book, Mainstream AIDS Theatre, the Media, and Gay Civil Rights: Making the Radical Palatable, was published by Routledge (2016). It shows ideological change over time by examining receptions of plays with an AIDS focus from 1985-2000. It intervenes in the notion that mainstream theatre, because it relies on capitalism, must be inherently conservative. He published related research in three different McFarland anthologies, two articles on, and an article in the journal Peace and Change. He also gave invited talks on the subject at Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznań, Poland), Ohio University, and SIU. Based on this work, he was named the 2016 James Fisher Fellow in the American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS).

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Jacob Juntunen
Phone: 618-453-5741
Office: Comm 1033B
Personal Website:
Short Plays:

Bobbi Knapp, Associate Professor

Sport Administration, Human Sciences

Dr. Knapp is an tenured Associate Professor of Sport Studies and current Program Director for the KIN 210 Diversity in Sport course.  Her primary focus of training and study is in the sub disciplinary area of sport sociology.  She also serves as Co-Director of the Socio-Psychology Laboratory, and serves as the faculty advisor for the Sport Studies Association (SSA).

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Bobbi Knapp

Office: Davies Hall, 160B
Phone: 618-453-3324
Fax: 618-453-3329

Brittany Leach, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary (Political Science and Sociology)

Political Science and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Brittany R. Leach is an Assistant Professor in the School of Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology. She received a PhD in Political Theory with a secondary concentration in Comparative Politics from the University of Virginia (UVA) and an MA in Political Science & International Affairs from the University of Georgia. Previously, she was a Charlotte Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship at the Citizens & Scholars Foundation and served a two-year term as an Assistant Editor at the journal Political Theory. She has published articles on abortion politics in the American Political Science Review, Contemporary Political Theory, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Additionally, she is active in public scholarship and community engagement.

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Brittany Leach

Office: Faner 3436
Phone: (618) 453-7633

Sarah Lewison, Associate Professor

Radio, Television, and Digital Media

Associate Professor Sarah Lewison is a media producer, artist, and writer whose work examines power, economics and political subjectivity. Her teaching and research areas include media and social change, ecological pedagogy and experimental performance. Her video work includes the documentary Fat of the Land which screened on PBS and in museums, festivals and community spaces worldwide, and is nationally noted for stimulating the do-it-yourself waste-grease bio-diesel movement. Prof. Lewison's writing about media aesthetics, social history, sustainability and culture has been published in Tema (Denmark), Journal of Northeast Studies (Hamburg, Germany), Area (Chicago), and "Failure! Experiments in Aesthetics and Social Practices" (Aesthetics and Protest Pub., LA). She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of California San Diego.

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Sarah Lewison

Office: Comm 1050E

Christopher Mullins, Professor

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Dr. Mullins joined the faculty of SIU in Fall 2008 after serving as an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri- St. Louis in 2004 and currently serves as Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Health and Human Sciences at SIU.

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Christopher Mullins

Office: Faner 4226
Phone: 618-453-6368
ResearchGate Profile

José Najar, Assistant Professor

José D. Najar is an Assistant Professor of History at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He received his B.A.s in Sociology and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph. D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century Brazil and Latin America. His work focuses on whiteness and non-European diasporas in the Americas, gender inequality, imperialism, anti-colonial resistance, and transnationalism and transimperialism as historical methods. 

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Jose Najar

Office: Faner Hall 3374

Jay Needham, Professor

Radio, Television, and Digital Media

Jay Needham is a sound artist, musician, image maker, writer-editor and cultural producer who utilizes multiple creative platforms to produce his works, many of which have a focus on sound and site-specific field research. As a hearing-divergent person, Needham makes work that often involves sensing and experiencing sound across many modalities. His sound art, works for radio, visual art, performances and installations have appeared at museums, festivals and on the airwaves, worldwide. His most recent sound installation is on permanent display in the BioMuseo, designed by Frank Gehry in The Republic of Panama.

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Jay Needham

Office: COMM 1050D

Sandy Pensoneau-Conway, Director, Associate Professor

Communication Studies

Sandy Pensoneau-Conway is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She received a B.S. (cum laude) in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (1999), an M.S. in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2001), and a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2006). 

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Sandra Pensoneau-Conway

Office: Comm Building 2008B
Phone: 618-453-2215

Jennifer Smith, Professor

Spanish, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Jennifer Smith’s main area of research is late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Iberian literature and culture, with a special focus on medical discourses on gender and sexuality and their dialog with literary works. Her research also explores questions of race and class. She has published four books: Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-de-siècle Spain (Vanderbilt UP, 2021, author), Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change (Bucknell UP, 2018, editor), Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Nation in Fin-de-Siècle Spanish Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2017, co-editor with Lisa Nalbone), and Emilia Pardo Bazán’s Insolación (Cervantes & Co., 2011, editor). She has also authored numerous articles and book chapters.

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Jennifer Smith

Office: Faner 2028
Phone: 618-536-5571
Personal Website

LaShonda Stewart, Associate Dean and Professor

Professor LaShonda M. Stewart received her Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in May 2008. Her general research area focuses on local governments’ financial management practices, state’s rainy-day funds, global budgeting, participatory budgeting, and health information technology. She is, however, most recognized for her research on local governments’ unreserved fund balances with research appearing in Public Budgeting and Finance, Public Finance and Management, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, and Administration & Society. In her current research, she seeks to develop a model to explain how local governments accumulate savings. She teaches courses in public administration which includes public budgeting, financial management, research methods for public administrators and statistics. She also serves as Director of the Chancellor’s Scholars Program.

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LaShonda Stewart

Faner Hall 3136
Office: 618-453-5695
Curriculum Vitae

Rebecca Walker, Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor

Communication Studies

Rebecca Walker is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Texas, both in the area of Communication Studies with an emphasis in performance studies (1998; 2004), and her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in Communication Studies with an emphasis in performance studies (2011).  She currently also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the School of Communication Studies. 

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Rebecca Walker

Office: Comm Bldg, Room 2002J
Phone: 618-453-1885

Rachel Whaley, Associate Professor

Dr. Whaley's research and teaching interests are in the sociology of gender and criminology and the intersection of the two subfields. Past research has examined the macro-level correlates of rape and female homicide victimization using data on US cities and micro-level correlates of adolescent substance use. Of particular focus is the role of gender as a social structure on both macro-level and micro-level phenomenon. Dr. Whaley is trained in quantitative research methods and statistical analyses. Current works in progress relate to men’s coping with obesity and how it relates to ideas about masculinity, subjective feelings about gender identity and belief in cultural gender stereotypes, criminal victimization and fear among people opting for life on the road, college students’ views about social inequalities, and explaining trends in traditional gendered expectations. Dr. Whaley also has experience working in applied research centers and is working on developing related courses.

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Rachel Whaley

Office: Faner 3434
Phone: 618-453-7631
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Chris Wienke, Associate Professor

Dr. Wienke joined Sociology in Fall 2008. His work is primarily in the areas of mental health, family, gender, and sexuality.

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Chris Wienke

Office: Faner 3432
Phone: 618-453-7629
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

List of all graduate instructors

Graduate Instructors
Name Title Office Bio
Janine Armstrong Graduate Instructor Janine Armstrong is a doctoral student in Communication Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is also working on her graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her teaching and research interests include gender and sexuality studies; intersectionality; interpersonal communication; identity studies (with emphasis in gender, sexuality, faith, and race); communication pedagogy; experiential learning; and applied communication