Laurie Finke joined the Kenyon faculty in 1992 as its first tenure-track director of gender and sexuality studies, formerly called women's and gender studies. She previously taught English literature and feminist theory at Lewis & Clark College.

She has published seven books, the most recent of which, “Cinematic Illuminations: The Middle Ages on Film,” was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2010. Her articles have appeared in Women's Studies, Studies in Medievalism, Theatre Survey, Signs, Theatre Journal, Exemplaria, Arthuriana and other journals. She is currently an editor of the Norton Anthology of Criticism and Theory.

Besides teaching the introductory course and senior colloquium in gender and sexuality studies, she teaches feminist theory, masculinities, gender and film and queer studies.

Areas of Expertise

Feminist theory, literary theory, medieval studies


1980 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Pennsylvania

1976 — Master of Arts from University of Pennsylvania

1974 — Bachelor of Arts from Lake Forest College, Phi Beta Kappa

Courses Recently Taught

From the invention of Valentine's Day to the notion of love as a sickness and to the articulation of courtship as a game with specific rules, many of our ideas about and expectations for romantic love come to us from medieval literature. Yet in the popular medieval genre of adventure story known as "romance," things do not always go according to love's rules: Men fall in love with other men, women resist getting married, and married women seduce their unsuspecting houseguests. In this course, we explore the complex messages about love and sex encoded in medieval romances. Our readings include poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer, the anonymous romances "Roman de Silence" and "Amis and Amiloun," Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's "Romance of the Rose," and the rules of love offered by both Ovid and Capellanus, as well as other medieval texts and contemporary works of theory and criticism. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.

This course provide students with critical frameworks for thinking about the social construction of gender at the personal and institutional levels. Emphasis is placed on diverse women’s significant contributions to knowledge and culture; to other areas of gender studies, including men’s studies, family studies and the study of sexuality; and to the intersections of various forms of oppression both within and outside of the U.S. The course includes both scholarly as well as personal texts, visual as well as written text. This counts toward the introductory requirement for the major. This course paired with any other 0.5 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. Offered every semester.

In this course, we read both historical and contemporary feminist theory with the goal of understanding the multiplicity of feminist approaches to women’s experiences, the representation of women and women’s relative positions in societies. Theoretical positions represented include liberal, cultural, psychoanalytic, socialist and poststructuralist feminism. We explore the relationship of these theories to issues of race, class, sexual preference and ethnicity through an examination of the theoretical writings of women of color and non-Western women. This counts toward the concentration and the mid-level requirement for the major. This course paired with any other 0.5 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. Prerequisite: any WGS course, approved departmental course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

Individual study enables students to examine an area not typically covered by courses regularly offered in the program. The course can be arranged with a faculty member in any department but must conform to the usual requirements for credit in the program: Gender is a central focus of the individual study, and the course draws on feminist theory and/or feminist methodologies. The amount of work should be similar to that in any other 400-level course. Individual study courses may be used toward the major or concentration. To enroll, a student should first contact a faculty member and, in consultation with that professor, develop a proposal. The proposal, which must be approved by the program director, should provide a brief description of the course/project (including any previous classes that qualify the student), a preliminary bibliography or reading list, an assessment component (what will be graded and when) and major topical areas to be covered during the semester. The student and faculty member should plan to meet approximately one hour per week or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.

The major who wishes to participate in the Honors Program must have an overall GPA of 3.33 and a GPA of 3.5 in the major. The candidate in honors completes all requirements for the major, the Senior Capstone and two semesters of independent study and designs and completes a research project. This project should integrate feminist theory and methodologies as well as the student’s chosen disciplinary or interdisciplinary cluster. Each honors student prepares an annotated bibliography on the chosen project midway through the fall semester. After approval, the senior honors project is undertaken in consultation with a project advisor. Students are encouraged to think boldly and innovatively about the kinds of projects they undertake and about how those projects interact with and benefit their communities. Senior honors projects might include gender-focused sociological or historical studies undertaken locally; exhibitions, productions or installations of gender-exploratory art, music or theater; or political, social and/or environmental service-oriented or activist work. Students are closely mentored throughout their projects and, in the spring, are evaluated by an external evaluator and faculty in the program and in relevant disciplines. The evaluators assess the strength of the students’ overall work, as well as the strength of their self-designed, project-appropriate public presentations of that work. Permission of instructor and department chair required.