Tanya L. Shields
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
I am an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Women’s and Gender Studies, a past fellow of the Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Fellowship, and a recent recipient of the Institute of Arts and Humanities’ Academic Leadership Fellowship.
My research focuses on Caribbean studies and plantation logics. My book, Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging, 2014, examines the ways in which rehearsing historical events and archetypal characters shapes belonging to the region using feminist rehearsal as a methodology.
Feminist rehearsal posits that repeated engagements with a text not only allow us to explore the ways in which we constantly negotiate belonging, but also how repeated feminist interrogations help us build consensus and community.
I am the editor of The Legacy of Eric Williams: Into the Postcolonial Moment, 2015, which examines the contributions of Eric Williams, the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago.
I am currently at work on my second monograph, Gendered Labor: Race, Place and Power on Female-Owned Plantations, a comparative study of women who owned plantations in the Caribbean and U.S. South. I have been excited to share this work with colleagues at Sam Houston University and Davidson College. In addition to these talks, I have published in a number of venues including the journals Souls, Women, Gender, and Families of Color, and Identities. Additionally in edited volumes such as The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Constructing Vernacular Culture in the Trans-Caribbean. Recent publications include Hell and Grace: Palimpsestic Belonging in The True History of Paradise and Crossing the Mangrove, 2018, and Magnolia Longing: The Plantation Tour as Palimpsest, 2017.
Recently, I edited a special issue of Cultural Dynamics called, Collisions: Home, History and Storytelling, which includes essays from presenters at the Telling Our Stories of Home: Exploring and Celebrating Changing African and African Diaspora Communities conference, which I convened with Kathy Perkins. Additionally, Kathy and I contributed the essay, Telling Stories of Home: Pedagogy, Practice and the Potential for Lasting Change, to a forthcoming volume on incorporating Africa and its diaspora in the K-12 classroom, edited by Kia L. Caldwell and Emily Chavez. This work has been significant as a way of connecting our research with the wider community, specifically helping teachers beyond our classrooms develop more robust and inclusive curricula.
My research and teaching are interwoven. I teach classes on the Caribbean, the arts of activism, growing up girls globally, and the continuing influence of plantation economics and politics. In fact, my class, “Rahtid Rebel Women: An Introduction to the Caribbean,” was listed as number seven on Elle Magazine’s 63 College Classes that Give Us Hope for the Next Generation.
Like research and teaching, service brings together issues of art and activism. I am a board member for the Maryland-based Carivision Community Theater, which seeks to use theater as space of exchange between Caribbean and U.S. theater audiences. I am excited about my collaboration with the Houston-based Process Theatre’s Plantation Remix project for which I serve as dramaturge.
I earned my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park.