Meet the Fellows: 2017 Women’s Studies Fellow Lindsey Breitwieser

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies supports the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses women’s and gendered issues in interdisciplinary and original ways. The 2017 class of Fellows includes Indiana University’s Lindsey Breitwieser. Ms. Breitwieser talks about the path she took in becoming a gender studies scholar, and how it has informed her dissertation, titled Dead Mothers, Live Births: Postmortem Pregnancies and the Necropolitics of Biological Life:

It was an accident that I came to be a scholar of women’s and gender studies. Since childhood I wanted to be a scientist. My first dream was to be a zoologist. Next was astronomer and astrophysicist. Then botanist. Then genetic engineer. Once I left for the College of Charleston (Go Cougars!), it was a no-brainer that I would major in biology and minor in chemistry, and the College’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program (WGS) was nowhere on my radar. By happenstance, I found myself living in the WGS house, a small, on-campus living-learning community sponsored by the program that emphasizes feminism, social justice work, and activism. Although I have identified as a feminist since middle school, it was in this house and  community that I awakened, and I quickly declared a biology and WGS double major. As I immersed myself in feminist theory, I discovered that science alone didn’t satisfy my intellectual curiosity. What about gender? What about politics? What about emotion, culture, and different forms of science? I began interrogating professors about genetics and eugenics; about “gender-bending” fish and masculinist evolutionary theories; and parthenogenesis (the ability in some species for females to clone themselves and birth those clones) and Marxist feminism (which rethinks women’s alienation from their reproductive labor). Though I became more critical, my love for science never waned—it was enhanced by feminist theory. And so I entered graduate school where I could bring these two knowledge forms together into a dissertation project that celebrates and critiques science through feminism. Over the years my questions have become more refined, my project more defined, but fundamentally, mixing these two beautiful knowledge forms every day is exciting, worthwhile, and a dream come true.


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