Faculty Focus – Dr. Kate Phelps

Name: Dr. Kate Phelps

Title: Teaching Faculty

Hometown: Madison, WI!

Educational/professional background: I have a Bachelor’s in Women’s and Gender Studies from Beloit College, a Master’s in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston

My teaching career has spanned from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Tufts University, Madison College, and UW-Madison!

What is your field of research, and how did you get into it?

My primary area of scholarly interest, for both teaching and research, is broadly in body politics – how and why our bodies matter, and embodied experiences in institutions. I do much with questions about bodies in developing my courses and curriculum! My doctoral research and forthcoming book explore experiences of tween girls in digital space, particularly on social media. I do research using an arts-based methodology, facilitating body mapping workshops on campus. I have also been doing more cross collaboration with other campuses and organizations around weight inclusive medicine and healthcare, which is a major passion of mine.

What attracted you to UW-Madison?

It was important to my partner and I to return to Wisconsin after our graduate work, to take root in Madison, and be a part of this community! We both have family nearby, and many ties to this place. I was never a student at UW-Madison, but my partner is a UW-Madison alumnus! UW-Madison has been central to my life since I was a child, and I am proud to be a part of the Gender and Women’s Studies department and the broader campus and city community.

What was your first visit to campus like?

I can’t quite remember it because I was a young kiddo at the time! But I certainly have memories of going to campus as a child, playing at the Memorial Union terrace, visiting Babcock ice cream, and when I was old enough to drive, picking up my mom from Vilas Hall, as she worked for many years for Wisconsin Public Television!

Favorite place on campus?

A truly difficult question – it’s an amalgam of feelings I get at various spots on campus, but I have to say, I love a good picnic up on the hillside along Observatory Dr., strolling through the food trucks on Library Mall, the Zoe Bayliss Cooperative (it’s history and resilience), the UW stock pavilion, and I have to throw Sterling Hall in there – where my teaching journey at UW-Madison began!

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.

I think my work is the Wisconsin Idea embodied. For me, it’s pretty much all about the praxis piece – how are we taking what we learn in collaboration together in the classroom, and applying our learning in our pursuits, professionally and personally? And how are we doing that in ways that effect meaningful and positive change for our communities? The most important thing to me is that students feel equipped to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it beyond the classroom.

Hobbies/other interests:

I am captain of my Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association team (the Ruth Badder Disc Burns)! I’m a big music person and love to sing and play ukulele. You can catch me playing local open mics with my dad from time to time. I also love exploring pockets of Madison and the surrounding area with my mom. When my siblings are in town from Minnesota and Virginia, we love visiting our favorite Madison restaurants. Biking, paddling, nature walks, camping, and having backyard fires with my partner, two kiddos, family, and friends are all central interests! And finally, I’m a huge fan of (in no particular order), coffee, pine trees, plants, thrift store treasures, baked goods, tattoos, poetry, dance parties, hydration, and human beings! Big extrovert over here.