Jess Waggoner

Position title: Assistant Professor of Gender & Women's Studies, and English

3414 Sterling Hall

Joint Appointment:  English

Jess Waggoner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies and English at UW-Madison. 

Waggoner’s research and teaching interests span U.S. literature and culture, feminist disability studies, queer and trans studies, health activisms, and African American studies.

Their first book project explores the relationship between Black American cultural production and early disability social movements. This project proposes that current scholarship overlooks early disability activism and culture, especially by and about disabled Black Americans. This omission is due to an emphasis on white veterans in pre-1950 disability scholarship and the assumption that collective disabled self-advocacy did not begin until the 1960s. In tracking this emergent politicization, this project demonstrates that disability became a form of solidarity through collective defiance of medical, legal, and social pathologizing discourses. Spanning protests of eugenics and medical segregation, Black women’s anti-psychiatric and anti-carceral literatures, and Ebony magazine’s coverage of access technologies, this project disrupts the historical centering of white disabled male narratives.

Their research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Coordinating Council on Women in History, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Smith College’s Sophia Smith Collections, the Modernist Studies Association, and the American Association of University Women.


Gen&WS 343:  Queer Bodies

Gen&WS 340: Topics in LGBTQ+ Sexuality (Topic: Queer Locations: Space, Place and Desire)

Gen&WS 370: Gender and Disability (Topic: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Ill and Disabled Lives)

Gen&WS 640: Capstone (Topic: Creating Kin, Radical Friendship, and Chosen Family)

ENG 350: Special Topics in Literature and Gender (Topic: Gender, Health and Waiting Rooms)

Select Publications: 

“Race, Gender and Sanism: Remapping Feminist Genealogies of Madness.” Signs: A Journal of Women and Culture in Society. Summer 2022. 

Dykes, Disability, & Stuff: Queer Ableisms and the Work of Cripqueer Print Cultures.” Feminist Studies. 49. 1. 2023.

Co-editor with Dr. Ashley Mog, “Special Issue: Visionary Politics and Methods in Feminist Disability Studies” for The Journal of Feminist Scholarship. Winter 2020.

“‘The Seriously Injured of our Civic Life’: Imagining Disabled Collectivity in Depression-era Crip Modernisms” for Modern Fiction Studies. Special Issue “Modernist Fictions of Disability.” Ed. Maren Linett. 65.1. Spring 2019.

‘“My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience’: Afro-modernist Critiques of Eugenics and Medical Segregation.”  Modernism/modernity 24.3 (2017): 507-525.

“‘Oh say can you __’ : Race and Mental Disability in Performances of Citizenship.” Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 10.1 (2016): 87-102. 

“Cripping the Bildungsroman: Reading Disabled Intercorporealities in Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms.”Journal of Modern Literature 38.1 (2014): 56-72.  Special Issue on “Disability and Generative Form,” ed. Janet Lyon.