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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

FYS/FYRS/August Term
Introduction to Sociology
Introduction to Women’s Studies
Research Methods
Transgender Studies
Trans Memoir and Creative Non-Fiction
Queer Critiques
Activism and Social Media
Sociology of the Body
Politics of Identity
Contested Masculinities

Areas of Research

Qualitative methods and ethnography
Teaching, learning, and pedagogy
Genders and sexualities
Queer studies and theories
Queer ruralities and queer ecologies
Sociology of the body
Sociology of technology
Social inequalities and intersectionality
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

“(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, Ind., January 31, 2012. (Invited)

“‘If It’s Not Part of My Grade, I Don’t Care’: Increasing Student Reading Through Writing.” Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Society, Atlanta, Ga., August 17, 2010.

“Queering Methods: Imagining New Intersections of Theory and Practice for Applied Sociology,” co-presented with Karen Macke. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Atlanta, Ga., August 15, 2010.

“Multimedia Methodologies: Qualitative Technologies.” Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society, Chicago, Ill., April 2, 2010, and Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, Boston, Mass., March 21, 2010.

“Teaching Sociology: Pedagogy and Syllabi Construction” co-presented with Stephanie Crist and Alecea Standlee. Department of Sociology, Syracuse University, November 3, 2009.