I think, therefore I am #flawless
Meet Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Kaila Story.
Prof. Story is Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, with a joint appointment in the Department of Pan-African Studies. She holds the Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Prof. Story also co-hosts a weekly radio show of musings on politics, pop culture and black gay life called Strange Fruit.
In this Q&A, we learn about Prof. Story’s interest in the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality both now and in the very ancient past, and that you don’t need to be a good dancer to love to dance.
Department: Women’s and Gender Studies
Years at UofL: 7
Degree: Ph.D., African American Studies, Temple University (2007); Graduate Certificate, Women's Studies, Temple University (2007)
My current research examines the intersections of race and sexuality, with special attention to black feminism, black lesbians, and black queer identity. Currently, I am exploring the new possibilities for resistance and political action through the existential and subjective exploration of my own black queer and feminist sexuality. Utilizing, Audre Lorde’s theoretical and literary figure, Afrekete as well as Alice Walker’s character Shug, I am researching how self-presentation, through aesthetic and embodied performance, creates a subjective counter-narrative and/or radical politic of the self that can be used as a useful strategy for racial, sexual, and gendered liberation and empowerment. Lastly, I am also exploring how the theoretical merging of Black Feminist Theory and Black Queer Theory, engenders an intellectual and lived possibility for black queer feminists to investigate their own subjectivity, recover their own agency, and begin to resist the various institutions that demand their conformity. My other research interests are Gender Socialization, Transnational Sexualities, Black feminisms, and Transnational Feminisms.
Who had the greatest influence on your career path?
My father, who also has his PhD in English, and has been teaching at the University of Michigan all of my life. My mother who was the first Feminist I ever had the pleasure of meeting and being influenced by, and Ann Russo, PhD who was my intellectual mentor at DePaul University where i received my BA. All of these individuals supported, loved, and believed in me, and what I could achieve at a scholastic level.
If funding were unlimited, what would you choose to research?
I would want to travel to Egypt and explore the tomb, artifacts, and rumored queerness of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut. She was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. She came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 B.C. and ruled jointly with Thutmose III who had ascended to the throne as a child one year earlier. It is rumored she wore a false beard and also had different relationships with other women.
What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I love to dance. Although I'm not what you call "a good dancer," it is pure pleasure for me to dance to my favorite songs anywhere and everywhere.
Who or what inspires you?
Black Feminist Cultural Workers and Scholars have always had a huge impact on me and my work. These women have dedicated their lives and their work to the empowerment, enlightenment, and resistance of Black women. They are, and have remained a consistent point of inspiration for me and my research.
What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
I've traveled to Ghana, West Africa twice. Once when I was in undergrad and another time when I was in graduate school. Each visit was for six weeks. The experience was beyond educational. It was exciting, wondrous, and had a major impact on who I was and who I aimed to be. In eight weeks, I will be traveling to Florence, Italy to speak at the "Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories," I am so honored and humbled by this opportunity, which I am sure will be another educational and impactful adventure.