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Vivian M. May

Vivian M. May

Vivian M. May



Humanities Center
Women's and Gender Studies
301 Tolley Humanities Building
Office: 315.443.2228


LGBTQ Studies


  • Ph.D. Women’s Studies: Emory University, Atlanta, GA (1997)
    Dissertation:Dividing Lines and Binding Words: Border Subjectivity in Contemporary Canadian and American Literature
  • B.A. Humanistic Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1991) Graduated with Great Distinction as a University Scholar


WGS 101 Introduction to Women's & Gender Studies

WGS 301 Feminist Theory

WGS 365 Negotiating Difference: Coming of Age Narratives

WGS 601 Feminist Theory

WGS 740 Feminist Theories of Knowing

Research and Teaching Interests

Feminist theory and epistemology; Black feminist thought; African American literature; literature & social change; intersectionality; interdisciplinarity.


Recent Articles

Anna Julia Cooper, Archival Absences, and Black Women’s “muffled” Knowledge. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (forthcoming).

Vivian M. May and Adela C. Licona. “Together, Working: Relational Matters.” Feminist Formations 30.3 (2018): 125-49.

“Anna Julia Cooper’s Black Feminist Love-Politics.” Hypatia 32.1 (2017): 35-53.

“Under-Theorized and Under-Taught: Re-Examining Harriet Tubman’s Place in Women’s Studies.” Meridians 12.2 (2014): 28-49.

“‘Speaking into the void’? Intersectionality Critiques and Epistemic Backlash.” Hypatia 29.1 (2014): 94-112.

“Writing the Self into Being: Anna Julia Cooper’s Textual Politics.” African American Review 43.1 (2009): 17-34.

“Anna Julia Cooper's Philosophy of Resistance: ‘What is needed, perhaps, to reverse the picture of the lordly man slaying the lion, is for the lion to turn painter.’” Philosophia Africana 12.1 (2009): 41-66.

Recent Book Chapters

“Anna Julia Cooper on Slavery’s Afterlife: Can International Thought Hear her ‘muffled’ Voice?” Toward a History of Women’s International Thought. Ed. Patricia Owens and Katharina Rietzler. Forthcoming 2020, Cambridge University Press.

[Reprint] “Intersectionality.” Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic & Contemporary Readings (6th ed). Ed. Susan Shaw, Janet Lee. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2015. In section two, “Systems of Power and Inequality,” pp. 79-84.

“Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964): Black Feminist Scholar, Educator, and Activist.” North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times. Ed. Michele Gillespie, Sally McMillen. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014. 192-212.

“Historicizing Intersectionality as Theory and Method: Returning to the Work of Anna Julia Cooper.” Interconnections: Gender and Race in American History. Ed. Carol Faulkner, Victoria Wolcott, Alison Parker. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012. 17-50.

“Intersectionality.” Rethinking Women’s and Gender Studies. Ed. Catherine Orr, Ann Braithwaite, Diane Lichtenstein. New York: Routledge, 2012. 155-172.

“Intellectual Genealogies, Intersectionality, and Anna Julia Cooper.” Feminist Solidarity at the Crossroads: Intersectional Women’s Studies for Transracial Alliance. Ed. Kim Marie Vaz, Gary L. Lemons. New York: Routledge, 2012. 59-71.

[Reprint] “Thinking from the Margins, Acting at the Intersections: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South.” The Philosophy of Race. 4 volume set. Ed. Paul C. Taylor. New York: Routledge, 2012.

From Proposal to Publication: CNY Humanities Corridor Nurtures Faculty Scholarship

(May 3, 2024)

2023-24’s supportive initiatives included first-ever campus visit from NEH official Claudia Kinkela, Minnowbrook writing retreat, panel discussion on open-access publishing and workshop to jumpstart summer writing.

Celebrating Syracuse University Authors and Editors: 9th Annual Books in the Humanities

(April 25, 2024)

The Humanities Center showcase features humanities-related books written or edited by SU faculty, staff and students.

The 20th Annual Syracuse Symposium Continues this Spring to Explore Humanity’s Interconnected Landscapes

(Jan. 18, 2024)

The event series will showcase how the humanities are pivotal to tackling a range of contemporary matters, including environmental and reproductive justice questions.

Indigenous Philosophies Can Create Global Change and More Just Futures

(Jan. 18, 2024)

Krushil Watene, Māori scholar from Aotearoa New Zealand, is the 2024 Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities, March 18-29.

20 Years of Syracuse Symposium

(Sept. 5, 2023)

The Syracuse University Humanities Center celebrates the evolution of Syracuse Symposium this year, with offerings that include the SU Human Rights Film Festival, a Peter B. Jones art exhibit, and a mini-seminar, “All Writing is Environmental Writing.”

Syracuse University Authors Celebrated at the Annual Books in the Humanities Showcase

(May 11, 2023)

The in-person reception featured nearly 50 books by SU authors spotlighting a range of cutting-edge research across campus.

“Moving Forward”: 10-Minute Performances on the Quad April 13

(April 5, 2023)

Expanded Performing Identities Across Cultures a CNY Humanities Corridor Signature Event

Humanities Center Fellowships and Grants Support Graduate Student Research in the Humanities

(April 14, 2022)

Thanks to this support, recipients are positioned for success in their fields.

The Power of Collectivity

(Sept. 9, 2021)

2021-22 Syracuse Symposium explores the theme “Conventions.”

A Vital Space: CNY Humanities Corridor Offers Unique Resource to Writers

(Dec. 9, 2020)

Authors build rewarding collaborations through the Corridor's working group structure.

Glimmers of Possibility for a More Just World

(Sept. 29, 2020)

This year’s fully virtual Syracuse Symposium provides inspiration for a more equitable future.

Power of Expression

(April 17, 2020)

Celebrating University writers with “Books in the Humanities.”

Digitizing and Restoring History

(Feb. 5, 2020)

Dozens of volunteers preserved the works of an important early Black feminist educator, activist and author.

Collaborating Across the Corridor

(Dec. 12, 2019)

Vivian May leads CNY Humanities Corridor.

Dissertation, Public Humanities Fellows Advance Student-Centered Research

(Nov. 28, 2018)

Cohort illustrates humanities' 'breadth and relevance,' says center director

Syracuse Marks National Arts and Humanities Month

(Oct. 9, 2018)

University celebrates 'importance of culture' with spate of events, activities

Creative Conversations: Faculty Research in the Humanities (Part I)

(May 2, 2018)

Humanistic research thrives at Syracuse, thanks to collaborations with artists, scientists, engineers, librarians

NEH Funding Supports Two Syracuse Projects

(April 20, 2018)

Continued funding critical for humanities research, Gerald Greenberg says

Humanities Book Reception to Showcase University Authors April 17

(April 12, 2018)

Event will honor more than 50 scholars who published books in 2017

Disability Studies Trailblazer Susan Schweik in Residence March 19-30

(March 16, 2018)

UC Berkeley professor is Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in Humanities

Syracuse Symposium to Host Chilean Theater Company Feb. 12-16

(Feb. 7, 2018)

Teatro La María will explore notions of 'Belonging' through performances, panel discussions

Humanities Center Dissertation Fellows to Discuss Research Jan. 26

(Jan. 22, 2018)

Maria Carson, T.J. West are 'University citizens,' Humanities Center director says

Humanities Center Hosts Faculty, Staff Book Reception April 18

(April 12, 2017)

Event features new titles by 37 authors in 25 departments, programs at Syracuse

Vivian May, Visionary Humanist

(Jan. 10, 2017)

Humanities Center director an expert on black feminist educator Anna Julia Cooper

Vivian May Appointed Director of Syracuse University Humanities Center

(June 17, 2015)

Women’s studies professor understands ‘visionary, strategic leadership,’ says A&S dean

Women’s and Gender Studies Chair Vivian May Publishes New Book

(Jan. 27, 2015)

Renowned scholar calls May’s book ‘a must-read for scholars and practitioners committed to social justice movements and anti-oppression ideologies