Sally Kitch

Arizona State University
Director of the Institute for Humanities Research
Tempe, Arizona

Sally L. Kitch is the founding Director of the Institute for Humanities Research and Regents' Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. She came to ASU from Ohio State University, where she was a professor of Women's Studies until 2006 and chaired the Department of Women's Studies from 1992 to 2001.   Prof. Kitch specializes in feminist theory and epistemology, the intellectual history of gender and racial ideology, theories of transdisciplinarity, gender representation in visual and narrative culture, and the material effects of such representation on the lived realities of diverse women's lives. She has written three books on feminism and utopianism and developed that as a sub-field of feminist theory. Her most recent work involves the resistance of Afghan women leaders to their country's gender ideology.  Her book on that topic should be out in 2012.  Her most recent book is The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the U.S., which was a finalist for the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association.  She has writte three books about gender and utopias/utopianism: Higher Ground: From Utopianism to Realism in American Feminist Thought and Theory (University of Chicago Press, 2000);  Chaste Liberation: Celibacy and Female Cultural Status (University of Illinois Press, 1989) and This Strange Society of Women: Reading the Letters and Lives of the Woman's Commonwealth (Ohio State University Press, 1993).  The latter have won national prizes. 

Research Interests and Selected Publications

Professor Kitch's research focuses on gender and feminism through the analysis of a wide range of social and cultural narratives, including historical documents, literary works, and philosophical and religious treatises, in order to determine how such narratives construct gender ideology in different time periods and settings and how those constructions have been both enacted and resisted, especially through the development of feminist thought. She has published more than a score of refereed journal articles and book chapters and six books, three of which have won national prizes.

Two of Professor Kitch's books address the construction of gender ideology in American utopian communities, and a third addresses the intimate but unfortunate interconnection between feminist thought and utopianism. Her most recent book (forthcoming 2009) is The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the U.S. It analyzes legal, scientific, historical, political, and religious narratives, from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century, in which racial ideology was constructed in the U.S. in gendered terms. Understanding gender's role in justifying racial divisions and hierarchies in American culture is important because that association bestows allegedly "natural" credentials onto specious racial standards and norms. Since 2001, she has also been involved in a project focused on Afghan women's leadership, which resulted in the first U.S. conference featuring the views of Afghan women leaders, two articles, and a third article, entitled "Can Feminism Save Afghanistan?," now in process.

Professor Kitch is also a scholar of interdisciplinarity. She has published several articles on the centrality of interdisciplinarity to women and gender studies research. In her role as Director of the Institute for Humanities Research at ASU since 2006, she has promoted numerous interdisciplinary research projects across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including a faculty working group on Humanities and Sustainability.