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Western Kentucky University

Graduate Faculty

Graduate Faculty

A picture of Jane Olmsted, the director of Gender and Women's Studies Dr. Jane Olmsted

I’m the director of the Women’s Studies Program and a professor in the English Department. I’ve been teaching WS courses here at WKU since 1996 and became director in 1998.  

For the past couple of years I’ve been writing poetry like mad and working on a family ethnography (primarily my mother’s and uncle’s letters from 1938-1955—the years when they went to school, served in the war, got their first professional jobs, and started families).

For the past few years, much of my teaching has been online, and I’ve come to enjoy the format very much. It’s conventional wisdom that “online courses can’t replace f2f courses.” I don’t think we need to spend much time in that line of thinking. I enjoy the range of students we get in our online courses—from all over the country and with widely divergent backgrounds and interests. I’ve also been impressed with how academically sound the students are. Our discussions are challenging and stimulating. As someone trained in literary studies, I’ve also been impressed with how well our written discussions proceed—reflection, response, questioning, disagreeing, changing—it’s rewarding.

I’m thrilled that WKU’s first sustainability-focused master’s program will go live Fall 2011 (currently pending final approval). We anticipate that the M.A. in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities will be attractive to a broad swath of people—including our certificate seekers in women’s & gender studies. Please visit my home page to find out more.

I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a minor in feminist studies, at the University of Minnesota, in 1996. My scholarly work has focused on American, African American, and Native American literature, with an emphasis on race and gender, and I have articles in Contemporary Literature and African American Review, and another about Langston Hughes’ fiction that originally appeared in Black Orpheus and was reprinted in Short Story Criticism. My colleague Elizabeth Oakes and I founded and edited the Kentucky Feminist Writers Series, which led to three volumes, of poetry, fiction, and life writing. Telling Stories and I to I are still available. This series has been a tremendous experience and opportunity to meet some of the wonderful women writers who live in all parts of the Commonwealth.

I love my profession and believe strongly that social change is best served by people with a sound education, with a keen understanding of how gender, race, class, and other elements of difference shape us as individuals and the worlds in which we live. I’m married to a philosopher and professor of philosophy and religion at a community college about an hour from Bowling Green. We have three sons, the youngest of whom was killed in the fall of 2009, much to our continuing heartache. Our oldest is finishing his MFA in ceramics at UF (go gators), and our middle son is enjoying his work in mortgage refinancing in Louisville



 A picture of Molly Kerby, assistant professor of Gender & Women's Studies Dr. Molly Kerby

I completed my undergraduate degree in sociology and environmental science in 1994 and my master’s degree in public health, community education, in 1999 – both at Western Kentucky University. I also have graduate certificates in Women’s Studies and Community College Faculty Preparation. I received my PhD in higher education administration from the University of Louisville in 2007.

I have been teaching for almost 12 years at the university level. In the fall of 1999, I taught my first women’s studies courses at Western Kentucky University and found a passion for the field of gender studies, the Women’s Studies Program, and, above all, serving students as well as the community. In the last few years, my educational and research interests have focused primarily on issues pertaining to a) sustainability and the politics of food production and consumption in terms of gender and justice and b) teaching pedagogies in the age of technology. My most recent research and publication projects include a) a dialogue with vegan feminist, activist/author Carol J. Adams to appear in an anthology edited by Alice Gensberg, b) a chapter in a book dealing with cyber pedagogies, and c) a qualitative and quantitative behavioral study in Gales Point, Belize. My last publications appeared in AIDS Education and Prevention, 2003, 15(5) and the Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2005, 9(3). The latter was also published as a chapter in a book entitled Making Lesbians Visible in the Substance Use Field, edited by Elizabeth Ettorre (Plymouth University). My long-term goal is to write a book dealing with food production and consumption among poor women in the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to my interests in traditional classroom teaching, I am the research director for a service-abroad project sponsored by the College of Health and Human service at WKU in Gales Point, Belize. I have a sincere interest in educating students outside the classroom as well as within. One of my goals is to create a women-centered, social justice program that will coordinate efforts to allow students to travel to other communities and countries in a service-learning capacity. Gender-related issues that affect our global neighbors have a direct effect on our nation, and it is imperative that our students learn how and why these relationships exist. There is a growing need and demand in every field for students to have an understanding of the concept of stewardship and sustainability.

Outside the classroom I frequently work with diverse campus and community groups to bridge departments and programs with the larger community. Two of my most rewarding roles at WKU are as a faculty advisor to student groups and as a faculty sponsor of campus events. In my role as a faculty sponsor, I coordinate two major campus events every year: Earth Day/Ecofeminis, Festival (formerly Diversity Rocks) and Rock the Vote. Both events have a wide civic impact on students, faculty, and staff across campus. I believe that students who participate in extra-curricular activities learn a great deal more about leadership skills, conflict resolution, cooperation, and team-building than those who do not get involved. Keeping with my belief that faculty should interact with and act as role models for students, I co-founded the Faculty Staff Alliance (FSOA) in the spring of 2005. The FSOA is an ally group created to support Student Identity Outreach group (an LGBTQQ and allies network) as well as ensure that gay and lesbian faculty and staff are provided a safe and nondiscriminatory work environment, afforded equable partner benefits, and recognized as vital part of the campus community.

Aside from scholarly interests and activities, I enjoy music, gardening, cooking, activism, sports (especially women’s basketball), and KAYAKING! I love the outdoors, nature, the beach, biking, boating, camping, and I am addicted to yoga and swimming. I am the proud parent of 5 dogs (Chloe, Buster, Buddy, and Tess) and 5 cats (Cody, LeilaBelle, Gert, Velvet, and Sam). I am also the co-owner of a deli called Greener Groundz Coffee & café.

Visit my sites:

Follow me on Twitter:  drmollykerby

Facebook site:!/molly.kerby



A picture of Kristi Branham, assistant professor of Gender & Women's Studies Dr. Kristi Branham

My academic background is in literature and cultural studies with specialization in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American women’s popular culture. I earned my PhD from the University of Kentucky with an emphasis in feminist and social theory. This background has helped me to develop an interdisciplinary approach to both my research and teaching, calling on discourse analyses primarily from disciplines in the humanities. My research centers on the social and cultural meanings surrounding the concept of work in the United States and the ways certain kinds of labor become associated with women, in particular the type of labor we refer to as “women’s work.” This work includes the gamut of responsibilities required to maintain domestic space and to nurture its inhabitants from cleaning bathrooms and picking up dirty socks to comforting a sick child. I am particularly interested in the way this work is represented in popular culture as an expression of women’s love and care. I am also interested in the ways women’s caring labor is expressed in areas outside the domestic space.

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 Last Modified 9/25/14