Interview with Jeremy Rapport

Dublin Core


Interview with Jeremy Rapport


Feminist studies; Feminism; Religious studies; Pedagogy; Intersectionality; Religion, race, and ethnicity


This is an interview with Professor Jeremy Rapport. Jeremy Rapport is a Professor and the current Department Chair of Religious Studies at The College of Wooster. In this interview, Rapport talks about his experiences with teaching feminist and queer pedagogy in his own classroom. He stresses the importance of feminist and queer pedagogy and the challenges that he faces with feminist and queer pedagogy. Rapport also comments on his position as a white, cis-gendered male incorporating feminist and queer approaches into his teachings.


Vogt, Anna
Rapport, Jeremy






College of Wooster Libraries,
Feminist and Queer Pedagogies Workshop


Presented With Permission From Jeremy Rapport

In Copyright 











Oral History Item Type Metadata


Vogt, Anna


Jeremy Rapport


College of Wooster Digital Studio


[00:00:01] AV: My name is Anna Vogt. I am a senior double major in Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Today is Friday the 14th of September 2018, and I am here today with Jeremy Rapport who teaches at the College of Wooster and who is currently the department chair for Religious Studies. What is your primary area of study and how do you incorporate a feminist or queer approach into your teaching?

[00:00:23] JR: My primary area of study is, um, new and alternative religious movements, uh, especially in the United States and especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Um, so that’s what I would call my research area. Now, to some extent I guess I would say I would sort have came in to interest in gender issues, feminist issues, um, kind of as a result of that. So for example, uh, there are a lot of, uh, women leaders in the movements that I study, there are a lot of, um, sort of concerns about how gender is conceived among these sorts of religious movements and late 19th century. Um, and so to some extent the data that I was being presented in the material that I was interested in studying and learning about contained issues that the more I worked on them and the more I thought about them, um, became for me, you know, questions about gender, questions about women’s rights, women’s positions in society, uh, that sort of thing.

[00:01:30] AV: Right. Who or what were some of your biggest influences in feminist and queer pedagogy?

[00:01:36] JR: Oh boy, that’s a hard one. So, I feel like much of what I would consider to be, um, my use of feminist and queer pedagogy is actually sort of an ongoing developing project. So, when I was in graduate school that sort of thing would not have existed really at all. And I finished my PhD twelve years ago [eight years ago] so it’s not like ancient history or anything like that, um, and, uh, so for example what I would have encountered when I did my work was people who were very interested in figuring out how women functioned in these sorts of movements, right, so, a scholar of Religion, uh, who teaches at Loyola, New Orleans named Catherine Wessinger, who, um, has been, was very influential in giving me to think about why we should be paying attention to women, um, in the ways that she argued we should, um, handful of other, uh, scholars who, um, sort of did this sort of work from the Religious Studies viewpoint, right, so to that extent, right, I think that what is really interesting for me, personally, is that it is a developing process, right, so what I would take to be my use of, say feminist pedagogies in the classroom really comes out of continuing to try to think about 1), what interested my students, 2), what sorts of issues did I think were important to teach about, um, related to, uh, especially religious takes on, uh, women’s issues, gender issues, um, things like that, um, and then 3), just trying to think more specifically about, um, what I thought was a value in the educational process, right, so what’s a value in the educational process? Lots of things, but one of the most basic things that I would think, is that I would hope is happening in my classrooms, is that my students learn that you can’t understand people without respecting them, and so, the various ways that you can study people should always presume that we respect them first and that who they are and what they’ve experienced is something real, and, um, that is, that’s a first step towards understanding people who may be very different from oneself. So..

[00:04:14] AV: Right. So, I took the interdisciplinary course with you,

[00:04:24] JR: uh, Race, Gender, uh, Class, and Religion.

[00:04:27] JR: Yup.

[00:04:27] AV: Uh, a few years back, and I remember that it influenced me a lot in so many ways, because you made me think critically about intersectionality or intersectional issues, uh, that I never thought about before, and that is something that I have taken from your class ever since. When was a time when you saw queer, feminist pedagogy have a positive influence or work well in your classroom?

[00:04:52] JR: Well that class is I think the primary example, um, I mean when I first thought of teaching that class, um, you know what I was thinking about primarily was, you know we, this is something that I think needs to be in the Religious Studies curriculum. Right, there is no explicit class that deals with these critical social location issues and identities in our curriculum right now and there needs to be. And, um, uh, so my thinking when I first started doing this class was, students need to be hearing it, students need to be thinking this and students need to be thinking about the ways in which, um, you know, again sort of understanding that person very different from them, means understanding the intersections of different things, right. I don’t know if you remember this, I may not even have used this example in the class, but, um, I frequently talk about how interpreting a person’s experience is like looking at a spider web, right.

[00:05:58] AV: I think I do remember that.

[00:06:00] JR: [laughs] Exactly. And so, there is a person sitting in the center of the web with all these lines of the web and each line of the web is another aspect of who they are, right. Their gender, their race, their socioeconomic location, their religious history, their family history. Um, and so I really just saw it initially as serving a need that I thought um was critical, um, and I, you know one of the things that’s been really interesting for me, really important for me, um, is the chance that that’s given for me to push my own knowledge, my own experience, my own, um, interactions with students especially, um forward in ways that, you know keep I think, sort of, how would I put it, they keep me on my toes, I guess, maybe that’s how I would put it! [laughs]

[00:06:57] AV: What kind of challenges do you think that professors face when bringing feminist and queer pedagogies into the classroom?

[00:07:04] JR: Yeah, uh, very good question. Um, so I think there’s a lot actually, um, and they come from lots of different places, right. So, one challenge is that this is not an easier obvious way of teaching, right. So, it’s not apparent what you should be doing in the classroom if you want to engage the concerns of feminist and queer pedagogies. So that’s one issue, the complexity of the task itself. Um, another issue I think is that, um, I mean again, it hasn’t been that long since graduate school, but certainly those concerns were not part of a graduate education, at least not where I came from. Um, and I would say my best guess is certainly in Religious Studies, um, that is largely still not the case although it’s somewhat, it’s slowly getting better. So that’s another challenge, right, there simply isn’t the training of doctoral candidates in these modes of thinking or at least not in any sort of wide scale or levels. So, then there’s what students are bringing into the classroom, right, uh, and some students are very aware and very interested, and very, um, very much willing to participate in the project, some students are not. Um, and I think to some extent, right, is the burden of the professor to demonstrate why this should matter. You know, so in other words, it’s not the fault of the student whose never been exposed to any of these ideas or any of these modes of thinking or interpretation that they come into a classroom and they don’t get it. [laughs] Um, that’s, I mean that’s a part of the educational system process, period. Uh, but that’s a challenge, you know, their gonna be, um, as you mentioned earlier in Religion, Race, Class, and Gender, um, the, uh, you know, that class is, um, it’s a 200 level class, right, so it’s sort of an intermediatory level class, um, and part of what that means is that there’s gonna be students from across the campus from that class. Um, and there’s gonna be students who are very enthusiastic and interested and know quite a bit already, and there’s gonna be students who don’t know anything, um, and so you have to be very aware of who’s in the room, what are their concerns, where are they coming from. Um, but again, I think for me, right, the challenge of that, right, is, um, it’s important and it’s complicated, but at some level, as I said earlier, right, I think much of this goes back to, is you start with respect, you start with assuming that everyone you’re dealing with and talking about and studying and communicating with, and whatever, you know, whoever your discourse partners are in any way, that those people automatically deserve your respect. And so, I guess that, for me, is the first principle.

[00:10:21] AV: So, is that maybe one of the reasons that motivated you to participate in this workshop today?

[00:10:26] JR: Oh absolutely, yeah! Yeah, I mean, uh, you know, the, my interest in this workshop is, um, especially coming from that place of, this is something I’m still learning, this is something that I need to understand better, to be a more effective teacher, to understand my students better, to understand, um, what that process of respect entails. Um, so yeah, absolutely!

[00:10:55] AV: Well, is there anything else that we haven’t discussed yet that you would like to talk about?

[00:11:00] JR: Yeah, I, you know, I think a lot about these issues, uh, quite a bit and, you know, my own positionality is something that I still struggle with. You know, I am a white cis-gendered hetero male, right, so I am the thing that everybody sort of expects to be the standard or normal, or everybody’s taught to think is the standard or normal. And that gives me a lot of privileges in the classroom that I know a lot of other people don’t have. And so, I think it becomes, to some extent, really important for people like me, um, to engage these issues, um, because to the extent that anyone who wants to affectively work with students, wants to help students develop their own education, um, anyone who wants to do that really sincerely, has to know the complexity of identity that they’re dealing with, even when it doesn’t necessarily look like it. I don’t know, that seems like a little bit of a wandering response, but yeah, that’s just, uh, I mean it’s one of the challenges of working in education today, and I think, what I appreciate about this workshop is the opportunity to explicitly address these kinds of concerns and think about them and think about how to address them.

[00:12:18] AV: Well, thank you for your time.

[00:12:20] JR: You’re welcome.

[00:12:21] AV: This was all.

[00:12:21] JR: Thanks for having me.

[00:12:23] AV: [laughs]

[00:12:24] JR: And, uh, yeah, I hope your project goes well!

[00:12:27] AV: Thank you!

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Vogt, Anna and Rapport, Jeremy, “Interview with Jeremy Rapport,” WGSS at Wooster: Past, Present, and Future , accessed July 22, 2024,