Marian Mullin Hancock Teaching Award Recipients

2019 Recipient

Susan Cannon Harris, Professor, English Department and Gender Studies Concurrent Faculty

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We are delighted to honor Dr. Susan Harris’s extraordinary skill and commitment as a teacher with the 2019 Marian Mullin Hancock award for Excellence in Teaching Gender Studies.

As Professor Harris’ department chair notes in the letter of support he sent to the award committee, “Susan is a dedicated, rigorous, and successful teacher at all levels, from the University Seminar to doctoral seminars.” Furthermore, it was clear to the award committee that Susan’s success as a teacher rests on generating enthusiasm, passion, and dedication among her students. One of her students describes her “student-centered and student-driven” approach to teaching and learning. Another describes how Susan’s own enthusiasm for the subjects she teaches ignites and sustains student interest. And another refers to Susan’s “perfect balance of contributing to and directing discussion, while making sure everyone’s voice is heard.” These are, of course, central tenets of feminist and other liberatory pedagogies. They’re also the traits of a master instructor, one whose effectiveness in the classroom is rooted in the ability to teach while simultaneously getting out of the way of the students’ learning.

Please join us in congratulating Professor Harris on this honor, and in thanking her for her years of exceptional service to Gender Studies undergraduate and graduate students.

2018 Recipient


Pamela Wynne Butler, Associate Director/Director of Undergraduate Studies, Gender Studies

Butler Award

According to the 2018 Hancock Award selection committee, “What made Pam Butler stand out from our other wonderful award nominees were three especially noteworthy qualities: her absolute devotion to her students, the wealth of her knowledge related to gender studies, and the sheer excitement of her courses, courses that integrate community involvement and social activism with the more theoretical concerns traditional to gender studies.” Several students noted Dr. Butler’s deep commitment to praxis in her classes, and one student commented, “Our assignments were exciting because they went beyond theory and worked to make a positive impact here, in the Notre Dame community.” Dr. Butler is also well known for sharing her knowledge in gender studies with students who are not in her classes.  As one student wrote, “Students can come to Professor Butler with a vague interest or question about gender, intersectionality, race, or really anything to do with gender studies, and leave with dozens of references, a more precise understanding of their interest, and a new and meaningful connection with the most helpful professor on Notre Dame’s campus.”


Dr. Butler’s research uses critical-race and transnational feminist critique to understand popular and public cultures in the United States. Her areas of expertise include post/feminist pop culture; U.S. histories of gender, sexuality, and empire; feminist political economy; and the carceral state. Her current book project, The Secret History of American Knitting: Entanglements of Race, Sex, and Empire, is a genealogical political history of hand-knitting in the United States since the mid-19th century, focused on the ways in which domestic handcrafts have produced diverse racial and sexual subjectivities through such sites as the home, the prison, the museum, and the global economy. Her work has been published in Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, and in the collection Queer Twin Cities. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Butler is a master knitter, a member of the National Needle Arts Association, and an internationally renowned designer of hand-knitting patterns.


Gender Studies courses taught by Pamela Butler:

American ‘Chicks’: Postfeminist Politics

Dearly Beloved: Histories and Politics of Marriage

Gender and American Empire

Introduction to Gender Studies

Prisons and Policing in the U.S.


2017 Recipient

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Janet Kourany, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Janet Kourany is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Fellow of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values and Concurrent Faculty in Gender Studies. She is also on the Steering Committee of the History and Philosophy of Science Program. Kourany’s research areas include philosophy of science, science and social values, agnotology, and feminist philosophy (especially feminist epistemology and philosophy of science). Her books related to gender studies include Philosophy of Science after Feminism (Oxford University Press, 2010), The Gender of Science (Prentice-Hall, 2002), Feminist Philosophies (with James Sterba and Rosemarie Tong; Prentice-Hall, 1999, 1992), and Philosophy in a Feminist Voice (Princeton University Press, 1998).

Dr. Kourany’s students described her as a “generous and dedicated mentor” who expresses a genuine interest in her students and cares for them “both in the classroom and outside of it.”  Students wrote that her classes are “extremely unique, captivating, and well thought out,” and described her as one of the “strongest and most innovative teachers” in the Philosophy department.  Both former students and Dr. Jeff Speaks, the chair of Philosophy, noted how challenging Dr. Kourany's courses are.  In addition, Dr. Speaks noted that Dr. Kourany is committed to improving teaching in her home department.

Gender Studies courses taught by Janet Kourany:
Theories of Sexual Difference (undergraduate)
Gender and Science (undergraduate)
The Science-Gender Connection (graduate/undergraduate)
Science and Social Values (graduate/undergraduate)
Forbidden Knowledge (graduate/undergraduate)
Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (graduate)
Philosophy in a Different Voice: Feminist Perspectives on Knowledge (undergraduate)


2016 Recipient

Abigail Palko, Associate Director, Gender Studies Program

Apalko And Pwojcik At Award Presentation

Abigail L. Palko holds an appointment in Gender Studies; she is also a Fellow of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Africana Studies. Dr. Palko’s research focuses on contemporary (modernist and postcolonial) Anglophone literature, specializing in Irish and Caribbean novels; she examines questions of gender and sexuality, especially the construction and representation of motherhood. Her book, Imagining Motherhood in Contemporary Irish and Caribbean Literature, is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan. She teaches Introduction to Gender Studies and Gender Studies electives (including Monstrous Mothers of Literature, Jane’s Heirs, Reading Joyce and Walcott, Caribbean Women Writers, and (En)Gendering Revolution). She is also the faculty supervisor of the Gender Studies Program’s Teaching Apprenticeship.

Abby’s students emphasized her ability to make difficult topics palatable.  One student wrote that she “masterfully crafted lively discussions to ensure that all voices – especially those of undergraduates – were heard in the classroom.  Few other professors have so subtly and successfully crafted a classroom safe space.”  Another commended her care for students beyond the classroom: “She always makes time for her students …to support them and encourage them in any way possible…She has gone above and beyond the requirements of her job in order to see her students flourish.”

Gender Studies courses taught by Abigail Palko:
GSC 10001/20001: Introduction to Gender Studies
GSC 20509: Miranda’s Meaning/Sycorax’s Speech: Caribbean Women Writers
GSC 30535: Dublin Streets to Caribbean Beaches: Reading Joyce and Walcott
GSC 30628: (En)Gendering Revolution: Literature of the Irish Fight for Independence
GSC 40508/60508: Jane’s Heirs
GSC 40512/60512: Monstrous Mothers of Literature
GSC 43514/63514: Body Politics 
GSC 43603/63403: Mother Nature?: An Interdisciplinary Introduction to Motherhood Studies