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Director of Undergraduate Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies

Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies

Director, Carolina Seminars

  tshields@email.unc.edu

Education

PhD University of Maryland

Research Interests

I am an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Director of the Carolina Seminars.

My research focuses on Caribbean studies and plantation logics. My book, Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging (2014), examines the ways in which rehearsing historical events and archetypal characters shapes belonging to the region using feminist rehearsal as a methodology. Feminist rehearsal posits that repeated engagements with a text not only allow us to explore the ways in which we constantly negotiate belonging, but also how repeated feminist interrogations help us build consensus and community.  I am the editor of The Legacy of Eric Williams: Into the Postcolonial Moment (2015), which examines the contributions of Eric Williams, the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago. I am currently at work on my second monograph, “Gendered Labor: Race, Place and Power on Female-Owned Plantations,” a comparative study of women who owned plantations in the Caribbean and U.S. South. I have been excited to share this work with colleagues at Sam Houston University and Davidson College.  In addition to these talks,  I have published in a number of venues including the journals Souls, Women, Gender, and Families of Color, and Identities; as well as edited volumes such as  The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Constructing Vernacular Culture in the Trans-Caribbean. Recent publications include “Hell and Grace: Palimpsestic Belonging in The True History of Paradise and Crossing the Mangrove (2018) and “Magnolia Longing: The Plantation Tour as Palimpsest” (2017)

I edited a special issue of Cultural Dynamics called, “Collisions: Home, History and Storytelling,” which includes essays from presenters at the “Telling Our Stories of Home: Exploring and Celebrating Changing African and African Diaspora Communities conference, which I convened with Kathy Perkins. Additionally, Kathy Perkins and I contributed the essay, “Telling Stories of Home: Pedagogy, Practice and the Potential for Lasting Change,” to Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education, edited by Kia L. Caldwell and Emily Chavez. This work has been significant as a way of connecting our research with the wider community, specifically helping teachers beyond our classrooms develop more robust and inclusive curricula.

My research and teaching are interwoven. I teach classes on the Caribbean, the arts of activism, growing up girl globally, and the continuing influence of plantation economics and politics. In fact, my class, “Rahtid Rebel Women: An Introduction to the Caribbean,” was listed as number 7 on Elle Magazine’s “63 College Classes that Give Us Hope for the Next Generation.

Like research and teaching, service brings together issues of art and activism. I am a board member for the Maryland-based Carivision Community Theater, which seeks to use theater as space of exchange between Caribbean and U.S. theater audiences. I’m excited about my collaboration with the Houston-based Process Theatre’s “Plantation Remix” project for which I serve as dramaturge.

I earned my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park.