Area of Study
Email Address
Root Hall 315

Vivyan Adair founded, directed and has analyzed (in press) the ACCESS Project, a pilot program that assisted disadvantaged parents in their efforts to earn college degrees. Her research interests are studying comparative feminist theories of race, class, sexuality and gender, with a focus on representations of women on welfare and the impact of welfare reform, education, law and public policy. Adair wrote From Good Ma to Welfare Queen, A Genealogy of the Poor Woman in American Literature, Photography and Culture, and was co-editor of Reclaiming Class: Women, Poverty; and the Promise of Education in America. She has written numerous book chapters and articles that have appeared in Harvard Educational Review; Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Feminist Studies and elsewhere. Adair earned a doctorate from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Recent Courses Taught

Introduction to Women’s Studies
Seminar: Feminist Perspectives of Class in the United States
Seminar: Women Writing Against the Grain
Seminar: Theories of Sexuality

Research Interests

Class theory; women's studies and feminist theory; law, public policy and welfare; 19th- and 20th-century American literature; critical race theory; theories of sexuality; literary and critical theory


  • Elizabeth J. McCormack Endowed Chair, 2009-14
  • American Association of Community Colleges, Distinguished Alumni Award, 2010
  • Elihu Root Peace Fund Chair, 2004-09
  • CASE/Carnegie New York State Professor of the Year, 2004
  • Emerson research grant, Hamilton College, 2005, 2003, 2000 and 1999
  • John R. Hatch Excellence in Teaching Award, Hamilton College, 2000

Selected Publications

  • “Stigmata; A Memoir of Pain and Resistance.” Feminist Studies.  Vol. 45, No.1, June 2019: 235-239.
  • “Navigating Porous Intellectual Boundaries” Pathways to Excellence in Teaching, Ernest Williams, editor. CASE Carnegie, New York. 2012.
  • “The Missing Story of Ourselves: Poor Women, Power and the Politics of Feminist Representation.” NWSA Journal, 20 (1) May 2009. 1-26.
  • “Poverty and Story Telling in Higher Education," Storytelling, Self, Society volume 3, number 2, May-August 2007. 135-153.
  • “Ten Years Later: New Census Data Support View That Welfare Reform Failed by Denying ACCESS to Higher Education.” Teachers College Record, April 11, 2007.
  • “Of Home-makers and Home-breakers: The Deserving and the Undeserving Poor Mother in Depression Era Literature.” The Literary Mother. Susan Staub, Ed. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Publishers, 2006. 48-68.
  • “Class Distinctions: Mapping Poverty on the Contemporary U.S. Class Landscape” Considering Class. Jorgenson and Cahil, Editors. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 136-153.
  • “The Missing Story of Ourselves: Poverty Class in Academe,” Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas. University of Illinois, Volume 2,  fall 2005: 33-46.
  • “Last in and First Out: Poor Students in Academe in Times of Fiscal Crisis” Radical Teacher, Vol. 73, fall 2005: 8–14.
  • “Class Absences: Cutting Class in Feminist Studies.” Feminist Studies, Vol. 31, Number 3, fall, 2005: 575-603.
  • “US Poverty Class/Working Class Divides.” Sociology. University of Durham, UK. Vol. 39, Number 4, December 2005: 817-834.
  • “Poor Single Mothers in Academe.” and “Remarkable Journeys: Poor, Single Mothers Accessing  Higher Education.” On Campus with Women: Journal of the AACU . Fall 2004.
  • Reclaiming Class: Women, Poverty and the Promise of Education in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. April 2003.
  • “Class Identities and the Rhetoric of Erasure in Academia.” Public Voices.  University of Illinois. Winter 2002: 75-83.
  • “Branded with Infamy: Inscriptions of Class and Poverty in America.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Volume 27, Number 2, winter 2002: 451-473.
  • From Good Ma to Welfare Queen; A Genealogy of the Poor Woman in American  Literature, Photography, and Culture. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. August 2000.

College Service

  • Kirkland Endowment Activities Committee, Chair,  2019-present
  • Hamilton College Education Studies Task Force, 2015-17
  • National Women’s Studies Association, 2000-16
  • Modern Language Association,  2001-16
  • Hamilton College Committee on Academic Policy, Ex Officio, 2016
  • Hamilton College Committee on Academic Standing, Chair, 2016
  • Faculty Adviser, Hamilton College Women’s Center Fall 2016
  • Honor Court, Faculty Chair, 2016
  • Biased Racial Incident Team (BRIT), member, 2014-16
  • Faculty Adviser, The Womyns’ Center, 2015 - Spring 2016
  • Education Studies Curriculum Task force, member 2015-16
  • Title IX hiring committee, 2015 and 2016
  • Kirkland Endowment Fund Chair,  2012-16
  • Hamilton College Sexual Assault and Misconduct Committee Member/Chair, 2011-16
  • Title IX Policy Taskforce, member, Summer 2015
  • Hamilton College Admissions Committee (Interim appointment), 2008
  • Hamilton College Presidential Task force on Academic and Student Life, 2004
  • Hamilton College Alumni Council, 2003-07
  • Founder and Project Director: The ACCESS Project at Hamilton College, 1999–2009
  • Member: The Welfare Reform Task Force of the National Rural Development Partnership
  • (NRDP), Washington DC; The Truman Institute. 2001-03
  • Founding member: Utica Service Learning Experience (USE), Hamilton College 2000
  • Faculty Advisor, Disabilities Activist Group (DAG), at Hamilton College 1999/2000
  • Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture, committee member 1998-2004

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Washington
M.A., University of Washington
B.A., University of Washington


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