Cookie Woolner: Cultural historian of race, gender and sexuality.

Assistant Professor of History, University of Memphis


Click a link below to go to that section or scroll through to see all my work.

Fellowships, Grants and Awards
Papers Presented
Invited Guest Lectures

Invited Seminars and Symposiums
Research Assistantships
Public History
Other Professional Experience
Professional Affiliations


  • Ph.D. History and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
  • M.A.  Humanities, San Francisco State University
  • B.A. Cultural Studies and Gender Studies, Hampshire College

Fellowships, Grants and Awards

Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Social Justice, Kalamazoo College, 2015-16.

African American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, Case Western Reserve University, 2014-15.

Institute for the Humanities Graduate Student Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2013-2014.

Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2013-2014 (declined).

The Black Metropolis Research Consortium Short-Term Fellowship in African American Studies, University of Chicago, July 2012.

Hans Lenneberg Fellow, Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship, Special Collections, University of Chicago, 2012-13 (declined).

Rackham Humanities Research Dissertation Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2012-2013.

Rackham Centennial Spring/Summer Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2012.

Martin Duberman Visiting Scholar, New York Public Library, 2011.

Community of Scholars Fellowship Program, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan, 2011.

African American Collections Fellowship, Manuscript, Archive, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, 2010.

Arts of Citizenship Public Humanities Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2010 (declined).

Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, University of Michigan, 2009.

Research Award Fellowship from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan, 2009.

Rackham Merit Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2007-2012.

Most Outstanding Student in the Humanities M.A. Program, SFSU, 2006-2007.

Edward B. Kaufmann Scholarship, SFSU, 2005 and 2006.

Publications in Progress

Book review of LaShawn Harris’ Sex Workers, Psychics, and Number Runners: Black Women in New York City’s Underground Economy (Illinois, 2016), Journal of African American History.

 “LGBT America” chapter in The Routledge History of the 20th Century United States. Darren Dochuk and Jerald Podair, eds. (Routledge, 2017).

 The Famous Lady Lovers: African American Women and Same-Sex Desire before Stonewall.


“‘Woman Slain in Queer Love Brawl:’ African American Women, Same-Sex Desire, and Violence in the 1920s Urban North,” The Journal of African American History special issue, “Gendering the Carceral State: African American Women, History, and Criminal Justice.” Cheryl Hicks and Kali Gross, editors. Vol. 100, No. 3, Summer 2015.

“American Excess: Cultural Representations of Lillian Russell in Turn-of-the-Century America,” Historicizing Fat in Anglo-American Culture, ed. Elena Levy-Navarro. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2010.
View the article as a PDF. © OSU Press 2010

Upcoming Presentations

“Framing Women in Harlem: Regulating Black Women’s Sexuality in the Prohibition Underworld,” American Society for Legal History Conference, Las Vegas, CA, 2017.

“The Black Queer Possibilities of Southern Vaudeville,” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA, April 2018.

Papers Presented

“Difficult Conversations in Lesbian History: A Roundtable Discussion,” Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities, Hofstra University, June 2017.

“A Very Enjoyable Stay in Gay Paree:”African American Women Performers and Queer Interracial Circuits in the Jazz Age,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, January 2016.

“Women’s Queer Labor and Resistance in the Black Popular Entertainment Industry of the Early-Twentieth Century,” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, October 2015.

“‘Woman Slain in Queer Love Brawl:’African American Women and Same-Sex Violence in the Early Great Migration,” Organization of American Historians Annual Conference, St. Louis, April 2015.

“‘My Music Is All Little Queer Things:’ Memoirs and Case Studies of African American Women Performers Who Loved Women, 1915-1940,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York City, January 2015.

“‘Only Women Were Present:’ Space and Place in African American Women’s Same-Sex Behavior in the 1920s,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, January 2013.

“‘Have We a New Sex Problem Here?’ The Great Migration and the Emergence of African American ‘Women Lovers,’” Intersections: Black Queer Sexuality Studies Graduate Student Conference, Princeton University, October 2012.

“‘Never No Wells of Lonelinesses in Harlem:’ African American ‘Lady Lovers’ and Sexual Knowledge in 1920s New York,” Queer Places, Practices, and Lives Conference, Ohio State University, May 2012.

“‘Ethel Must Not Marry:’ Black Swan Records and the ‘Queer’ Classic Blues Women,” International Association for the Study of Popular Music Conference, New York University, March 2012.

“The Classic Blues Women on Tour in the Jim Crow South and Strategies of Resistance,” Sarah Lawrence College Women’s History Conference, March 2012.

“‘Where’s That Partner of Mine?’ The Queer Performances of Ethel Waters and Ethel Williams,” National Women’s Studies Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, November 2011.

“‘I Used to Weigh 200:’ Race, Gender and the Body in the Career of Bessie Smith,” Community of Scholars Symposium, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan, October 2011.

“The Marketing of Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey’s ‘Prove It on Me Blues’ and Dialectics of Queer Popular Culture,” Berkshire Conference of Woman Historians, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, June 2011 (panel organizer).

“‘The Famous Lady Lovers:’ African-American Female Performers and the Terminology of Same-Sex Desire in the Early-Twentieth Century,” New Perspectives on African American History and Culture Conference, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, February 2011.

“Beau Brummells and Bulldaggers: African American Male Impersonators in the Early-Twentieth Century,” American Historical Association annual meeting, Boston, January 2011.

“The Queer Blues Women and the Turn from Lesbian History,” Doing Queer Studies Now Conference, University of Michigan, October 2010.

“The Black Venus: The Transgressive Performance of Cakewalker Dora Dean,” Bodies in Motion: Diaspora, Difference & Discursive Performances conference, University of Michigan, March 2008.

“American Excess: Lillian Russell on the Turn of the Century Stage,” National Popular Culture/American Culture Association conference, San Francisco, March 2008.

“In Beef We Trust: The Spectacle of Fat Women in Turn of the Century Burlesque,” Midwest Popular Culture/American Culture Association conference, Indianapolis, October 2006.


2016-17: Assistant Professor, University of Memphis

U.S. Since 1877

History of Women in America

2015-16: Lecturer, Kalamazoo College

Intro to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Black Queer History

Winter 2015: Lecturer, Case Western Reserve University

Race and Sexuality in American History

2008-10: Graduate Student Instructor, University of Michigan

Introduction to LGBTQ Studies

History of Sexuality

Introduction to Women’s Studies

Modern U.S. History Survey: 1865 to the Present

2005-06: Lecturer, San Francisco State University

Values and Culture: Representations of the Body

Invited Guest Lectures

“’All the Single Ladies:’ Spinsters, Bachelor Maids, and Unmarried Women in American History,” History Department, University of Memphis, March 2017.

“The Famous Lady Lovers: African American Women and Same-Sex Desire in the Jazz Age,” Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, Kalamazoo College, October 2015.

“The Queer Blues Women: Identity and Performance during the Harlem Renaissance,” Women as Performers, University of Michigan, March 2014.

“Queer Identities, Experiences and Cultures,” Psychology Club, Borough of Manhattan Community College, March 2013.

“An Historical Overview on Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Women in Modern U.S. History,” PSY 245: Psychology of Women, Borough of Manhattan Community College, March 2013.

Invited Seminars and Symposiums

Lesbian Studies, Lesbian Scholars: New Pathways, New Futures, University of Maryland, January 2014.

Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, Friday Workshop discussant with CUNY Professor Sharon Zukin, University of Michigan, February 2012.
Closing roundtable respondent, Symposium on Lesbian and Queer Historiography, University of Michigan, February 2011.

Graduate student seminar moderated by J. Jack Halberstam, Rethinking Sex Conference, University of Pennsylvania, March 2009.


Governing Board Member, The Committee on LGBT History, American Historical Association Affiliate Society, 2015-17.

Book Prize Committee, The Committee on LGBT History, American Historical Association Affiliate Society, 2013.

Organizing committee member, Doing Queer Studies Now graduate student conference, October 2010.

Senior Peer Mentor, Women’s Studies, 2009-2010.

Women’s Studies Graduate Student Steering Committee, 2009-2010.

Graduate Student Teaching Mentor, Women’s Studies, Fall 2009.

History/Women’s Studies joint Ph.D. program admissions committee, Winter 2009.

Research Assistantships

Research Assistant to James W. Cook, Associate Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan, 2011.

Research Assistant to Gayle Rubin, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2008-2009.

Research Assistant to Alexandra Minna Stern, Associate Professor of American Culture, University of Michigan, Summer 2008.

Public History

Contributor, Femme Histories Roundtable Parts I & II, Notches Blog, February 2017

Interviewed for article, “The ‘Criminal’ Black Lesbian: Where Does This Damaging Stereotype Come From?” Code Switch column, NPR, 2016.

Interviewed for article, “The History of Lesbian Bars,” Broadly/VICE Media, 2015.

Author, “Marijuana, Race, and Music Cultures from Jazz to Hip Hop” Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drug History Society. Blog post for roundtable in honor of the 50th anniversary of Howard Becker’s book Becoming a Marihuana User, 2015.

Author, “Capturing Communities: Lesbian Art in “On The Domestic Front” 1000-word essay for catalog accompanying the exhibit “On the Domestic Front: Scenes of Everyday Queer Life,” Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York City, 2015.

Researcher, annotated chronology of the marriage equality movement,, 2014.

Donated personal collection of fanzines and records to Alien She, 1990s feminist art exhibit, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, 2013-2014.

Blogger, Pop-Up Museum of Queer History Tumblr, 2012-13.

Submission Review Committee, Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, New York City, Summer 2012.

Volunteer, Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, New York City, 2011-2012.
Historical consultant and interview subject, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (Sara Marcus, Harper Perennial, 2010).

Professional Affiliations

American Historical Association

Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History – American Historical Association affiliate society

National Women’s Studies Association

American Studies Association

Dr. Cookie Woolner

Department of History
219 Mitchell Hall
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152

© Cookie Woolner 2016.
Built by Grubmunications:

%d bloggers like this: