Melanie Boyd: Gender Studies’ newest face

Bonnie Alger

Melanie Boyd, Lawrence fellow in gender studies, has found her niche in Main Hall 204. “It’s really fun and disorienting to be in a small place,” says the Ann Arbor graduate. “Michigan is huge; you guys would fit in one corner of the campus. I didn’t even know everyone in my department!”
Dr. Boyd’s interests in the field of gender studies and sexual violence developed under unusual circumstances. “Up until the end of my junior year at Yale, I was a physics major,” says Boyd. “I had a traumatic English experience in high school, and was determined to get through college without having to write a single paper. My roommates were all English majors, and were absolutely disgusted with me.”
According to Boyd, Yale is not the liberal arts college it claims to be, and she could indeed have made it through her undergraduate degree without writing a paper. It wasn’t until she was conned into taking a writing intensive class that her eyes were opened. “It was a totally fabulous, mind-blowing experience,” she says. “I am really into the challenges of science, but humanities is so much harder [for me]. The systems are much more complicated.” Changing majors at such a late stage required her to spend an extra semester at Yale. She went on to complete graduate work in English and women’s studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Boyd found Lawrence via Assistant Professor of English Gina Bloom. “We’re friends from school, and she said she loved the students here,” says Boyd. “Also, the fellowship is part-time teaching, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to do our own research [as well].” Boyd also enjoys the small, intimate atmosphere that Lawrence has to offer. “I turned down a tenure-track job [at another institution] because I would’ve had 350 students a semester, with no assistance. I need the reward of actually knowing my students and talking to them.”
She and her 6-year-old twins live five blocks away from campus, across the street from anthropology professor Peter Peregrine, and within walking distance from Edison Elementary, where the twins are in first grade. “One of my personal goals is for us all to be in the same place,” she comments. “My partner is a post-doc at Ohio, and every penny I spend goes to an airline. It used to be Northwest that got all our money, but now it’s Delta. Appleton is good for little kids, though.”
Professionally, Boyd wants to find a job similar to her Lawrence fellowship but for the long term. “I was told when I was younger that I would have no control over where I was going to live if I was going to be a full-time academic,” she says. “That’s why I lived in San Francisco for a few years; I wanted the chance to live in the most exciting, vibrant place possible before I no longer had the opportunity. I would be very happy at a liberal arts college, but really [the fellows] just want to be employed!”
Unlike many of the other Fellows, Boyd does not own a dog. “If you have a child, why do you need a dog?” she challenged.
Boyd is currently team teaching Introduction to Gender Studies with Professor Terry Rew-Gottfried. She will teach Introduction to Feminist Theory and Practice next term and Introduction to Queer Theory in the spring.