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


Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search