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Dr. Avery Tompkins

Diversity Scholar

I don’t want to be the authoritative person in the classroom. My favorite classes are the ones where I get to facilitate and step in as needed. The classes are there for the students. It’s not my soapbox.

The first thing you notice about Avery Tompkins is his energy. He exudes enthusiasm. Perhaps that comes from the many hours he’s spent hiking the Appalachian Trail (around 750 miles so far). Or perhaps, as a self-described “teacher/scholar/activist,” he is simply accustomed to juggling multiple roles and shifting his energies from one task to the next.

Whatever the source, he is obviously excited to be on the Transylvania campus. It was the small class size and the caliber of students that drew him here. He also recognized that the students are engaged, both on and off campus. As he explains, they “consider themselves students and activists,” which helps him forge an instant connection with them.

Tompkins can’t wait to get in the classroom. “My favorite thing about teaching is when the students come in and they know absolutely nothing about a topic. And then they get really excited about it. Or, when a student resists a topic or subject in the beginning, but at the end of the term is suddenly a huge advocate for that issue.

“I love watching light bulbs go off. I love it when a student who has really struggled raises her hand and is able to explain a concept to the class.”

Tompkins knows he’s been successful when he sees his students develop a depth of understanding that allows them to teach their peers. He prefers to be a facilitator in the classroom rather than the guy running the show.  “I would rather help them construct their own class together. That allows them to focus on what they want to learn.”

Academic History

Ph.D., Sociology, Syracuse University, 2011
C.A.S., Women’s Studies, Syracuse University, 2007
M.A., Sociology, Syracuse University, 2004
B.A., Sociology and Psychology, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, 2003

Courses Taught at Transy

Introduction to Sociology
Gender and Society
Transgender Identities, Communities, and Everyday Life
Culture and the Social Body
Research Methods
Families in Society
Deviance, Diversity, and Social Control
Health, Medicine, and Society
Digital Technologies and the Social Self

Areas of Research

Qualitative methods and ethnography
Teaching, learning, and pedagogy
Genders and sexualities
Queer studies and theories
Recreation and rurality
Sociology of the body
Social media
Everyday activism and resistance
Communities and collective identities

Recent Publications

“Asterisk.” 2014. Transgender Studies Quarterly 1(1-2): 26-27.

“‘There’s No Chasing Involved’: Cis/Trans Relationships, ‘Tranny Chasers,’ and the Future of a Sex-Positive Trans Politics.” 2014. The Journal of Homosexuality 61(5): 766-780.

“Review of Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal”, by J. Jack Halberstam. 2013. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking 0(1): 224-226.

Recent Presentations

2019. “’The Future is Bright:’ Digital Technologies and the Social Self via Black Mirror.” North Central Sociological Association Annual Meeting. Cincinnati, OH. March 29.

2016. “LGBTQI 101 and Law Practice.” University of Kentucky College of Law, Lexington KY, November 14.

2016. “LGBTQI-Inclusive Clinical Practice.” University of Kentucky College of Social Work, Lexington KY, November 9.

2013. “‘There’s No Chasing Involved’: Cis/Trans Relationships, ‘Tranny Chasers’, and the Future of a Sex-Positive Trans Politics.” Critical Dialogue session at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, New York NY, August 11.

2012. “(Trans) Sexualities and Contested Identities: Cis/Trans Relationships and the (Queer) Politics of Naming.” Annual speaker series in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Saint Mary’s College, South Bend IN, January 31.