Professor honored as one of Top 25 Significant Queer Women

History professor Jen Manion has been the director of the College's LGBTQ Center since it opened in 2007.
History professor Jen Manion has been the director of the College's LGBTQ Center since it opened in 2007.

A groundbreaking professor who is changing the way people think about gender, identity and culture has been recognized alongside some of today’s most prominent LGBTQ activists, artists and academics.

Jen Manion, associate professor of history and director of Connecticut College’s LGBTQ Center, was recently named to the Top 25 Queer Women of 2013 list by Velvetpark, a lesbian and feminist arts and culture website. The list features women who contribute to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning visibility in the fields of the arts, activism, academia, and social equality.

Manion was recognized specifically for research that earned her the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 2013.

The fellowship supports her upcoming project, which investigates the idea of female masculinity and the transgender experience by examining how history has distinguished gender roles and representations. The project is tentatively titled “American Transgender Histories: from Revolution to Civil War.”

“It’s very meaningful to have my academic work recognized as a form of activism that is a positive contribution to the LGBTQ community,” said Manion. “This project is framed by questions that transgender and queer people think about every day, but are still not taken seriously in most historical scholarship.”

Grace Moon, editor-in-chief of Velvetpark, said that queer studies is a young field that is just now seeing significant research, with Manion at the forefront. Moon explained that LGBTQ individuals who came of age in Manion’s generation have used academic pursuits to “claim relevance and power” within a culture that had systematically marginalized and oppressed them.

“These efforts have come to fruition within the past few years,” Moon said. “It’s one thing to do great academic work; it’s another to deeply inspire and move others. Professor Manion embodies both, and that is the mark of a great teacher.”

Manion was recognized alongside an impressive group of women. The list includes author and professor Susan Stryker and writer and activist Cheryl Clarke — two women Manion considers role models.

Manion joined the College in 2006 and became the founding director of the LGBTQ Center in 2007. Under Manion’s leadership, the center has collaborated with other offices, departments and student groups, to bridge the divide between academics and student life, raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and advocate for inclusive policies. Last year, Campus Pride and the Huffington Post, recognized Connecticut College as one of the Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the country.

In 2011, Manion received the College’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award, given to members of the College community that exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King’s work.

March 3, 2014