Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 2, Issue 1
fall 2011
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editor, John-Albert Moseley
Layout Design: Nick Appleby

WGSS Faculty Profile: Professor Liz Montegary

by Shanaz Chowdhery '13

Photo
Liz Montegary

Sunlight streams through the windows in William L. Harkness Hall as we sit around dark wooden tables. Class is about to end and all eyes are on Professor Montegary as she gestures wildly, explaining Dean Spade’s trickle-up social justice argument. To emphasize her points, Montegary pushes her arms up and out, illustrating how we should be pushing outside the boundaries of our minds to think outside the box when tackling complex issues. Montegary’s enthusiasm is infectious and ignites a loud outburst from a student struggling to push the boundaries of her own mind. The air seems almost electrically charged with the intensity of the millions of neurons firing in each of our minds.  

I leave class with a mental high, my mind spinning as I try to grapple with the new perspectives and theories covered today. Introduction to LGBT Studies is my third morning class and I enter feeling exhausted. Almost magically, within moments of class beginning, I’m alert and engaged, taking pages and pages of notes, defending my opinions and challenging others as Montegary drives the discussion. Class ends and I’m sending emails to my roommates and calling my parents, eager to talk about the challenging material covered today. I’m not the only one who feels so enthralled. Danijela Bule, sophomore, explained: “I have never left the class without continuing that day's discussion. It's rare to find a professor who can inspire that.”

Rare, indeed. Montegary is a special kind of professor, the kind Yalies actively seek out during shopping period, hoping to find someone who both wishes to engage and enlighten them, and who knows how to do it well. A multi-faceted Foucault-lover who has a passion for research ranging from feminist, queer, & postcolonial theory to histories of neoliberalism & militarization, Montegary’s teaching pedagogy revolves around redesigning the practice of critique not as a negative or destructive process, but as a creative and productive endeavor, and encouraging students to question that which is often accepted as “common sense.” Each class, she challenges students to envision other ways of thinking, desiring, and being. Both knowledgeable and approachable, eloquent and comprehensible, Montegary herself turns learning into a thought-provoking, exciting and tangible endeavor.

In interviewing Montegary, I took pages of notes. Summarizing her diverse academic passions, spunky personality and vast intelligence into a small article is fundamentally impossible—she’s too incredible. Have a conversation with her and you’ll understand.
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