Meet our Interim Director-Dr. Tamara Harvey

What made you want to work or continue working in Women and Gender Studies?

My work has focused on women writers and feminism since I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Anne Hutchinson in the 1980s.  As a research area, this work has been both intellectually challenging and socially relevant.  Since coming to Mason in 2004, I’ve found Women and Gender Studies (then just called Women’s Studies) to be an important location for interdisciplinary work.  My early participation in Women and Gender Studies was through a Global Gender Justice research community that was meant to bring together faculty from across campus to address issues related to gender and human rights around the globe.  Our interdisciplinary work shed new light on my own research while also leading to a major, international conference we hosted here at Mason and an edited collection, Confronting Global Gender Justice: Women’s Lives, Human Rights (Routledge 2011). But the rewards of that interdisciplinary work were not only scholarly. I also found working with faculty across campus gave me a community of colleagues and mentors outside my department that provided valuable support while I was still untenured and continue to be important friends and collaborators.

 What are you most passionate about in this area of study?

I am committed to seeing the agency of all women even as we identify and fight to address various kinds of oppression.  When I work on seventeenth century women, I am very suspicious of narratives that emphasize progress between then and now, particular when the sentence begins, “back then, women weren’t allowed to….”  People have always fought oppression but within the discourses and institutions of their time and place.  Just as we try to recognize the different aims and articulations of many different feminisms now, we should do the same when looking to the past.  I find that understanding earlier feminisms helps us understand the particular strengths, limitations, and conditions of our own feminisms.

What do you hope to accomplish in your position here?

I want to help ensure that what we do best thrives even if we have to rely more on technology and working across distances.  I also want to help foster conversations that will allow us to find an excellent new director who can build on our strengths while leading us in new directions.

What excites you most about working here?

Working with students and colleagues around campus.  In English I get some opportunity to work across disciplines and with students from many different majors in general education classes, but here I can work with scholars, teachers, staff, and students from many different fields working for social justice and doing cutting edge feminist work.

How does working here contribute to your life/career goals?

I’m excited to continue doing the feminist work that has been at the heart of my career from a new institutional position.  I believe that serving as interim director of Women and Gender Studies will give me new insights into the practice and potential of feminist leadership at universities.

What unique experience do you contribute to WGST?

I can drive a forklift, in case that ever comes up.