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Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

  • Ed Madden cleaning monument

    Past, present and future: Change makers in women’s and gender studies at USC

Ed Madden – Engendering identity scholarship

By Rose Cisneros ,

Ed Madden
The 50th anniversary is exciting, but it’s also profoundly important.Instances of discrimination tied to gender, sexuality, race and class are all around us. 

Poet and scholar Ed Madden was already drawing from multiple disciplines when he joined the Women’s and Gender Studies program in 2008. Specializing in Irish literature and culture, British and Irish poetry, LGBTQ literature, sexuality studies, creative writing and poetry, Madden found freedom to explore collaborative scholarship. 

“WGST ignored the academic silos,” Madden says, “they thought it was important for us to be talking across disciplinary boundaries, learning from each other and creating new knowledge, new ways of seeing.” 

Through this dual appointment, he was able to conduct research with colleagues in other disciplines and with the community. It also opened the possibility for Madden to explore scholarship and build courses centered around queer studies. 

“The department has a more capacious sense of what counts as scholarship, what should be involved in teaching and how deeply engaged both scholarship and teaching can be with community,” says Madden. “That has been validating for a lot of the work I do.” 

Around the same time, department leadership were also having conversations around identity and gender and how those complex concepts existed within women's studies. As new questions evolved, so did the idea to create a more inclusive name for this growing area of study — women’s and gender studies 

Throughout his 15 years in the program, Madden has also served as undergraduate program director. He says one of the greatest joys of that position was leading the internship program and seeing the students working within the community. 

That community connection is especially important for allowing honest dialogue about what the discipline really represents. 

“The 50th anniversary is exciting, but it’s also profoundly important,” Madden says. “Instances of discrimination tied to gender, sexuality, race and class are all around us. So, it's a great thing for the university to recognize both us and African American Studies as departments, which gives us a seat at the table in ways we did not have.” 

April 11

Poetry Slam with Dr. Ed Madden 
Time TBA in Finney Center


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