Interview with Brittnay Proctor

Dublin Core


Interview with Brittnay Proctor


Feminist theory; Popular culture--study and teaching; Popular music;


This is an interview with Dr. Brittnay Proctor. Dr. Proctor is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Wooster in the WGSS department. This interview revolves around her studies in black popular music, black feminist theory, visual cultures, gender and sexuality studies, and performance. Dr. Proctor talks about what has influenced her in her research pursuits, including the women in her family and her own experiences, as well as discusses influential texts she has worked with.


Malzeke, Hailey
Proctor, Brittnay






College of Wooster Libraries
Feminist and Queer Pedagogies Workshop


Presented with permission from Brittnay Proctor.

In copyright










The College of Wooster; University of California Riverside

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Malzeke, Hailey


Proctor, Brittnay


College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio


Brittnay Proctor Interview
Edited by Hailey Malzeke and Brittnay Proctor for clarity.

[00:00:00] HM: I am Hailey Malzeke. I am a double major in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Today is September 14th and I am here with Dr. Brittnay Proctor, and she is a professor in the WGSS Department here at The College of Wooster. So, the first question that we’re going to start with is what is your primary area of study and how do you incorporate a feminist or queer approach into your teaching?

[00:00:26] BP: Thank you for your question. My primary research interests are Black feminist theory, popular culture studies, but mostly I research Black music. I also am writing about the relationship between sound cultures and visual cultures in Black popular music. So, thinking about the relationship between album art and sound as it relates to how we theorize Black -- or what I call Black gender and, to a lesser degree, Black sexuality. In my own teaching I am interested in using and teaching materials that are invested in Black feminism, invested in what was once called Third World Feminisms but now we know it to be more so transnational feminisms, but primarily I teach the work of feminists of color from the United States as well as thinking more globally. I think my approach, or my use of queer studies in my course revolves around again the using the work of Black queer scholars, teaching queer color critique, and using some of the research that is a part of queer color critique as a field, and more generally I try to construct my... my courses around a kind of nonnormative understanding of the field. My hope is to not always center, you know, cis white women or their work in the kind of courses I teach. So, that’s always my aspiration, but you know, sometimes, the institutionalization of WGSS doesn’t always allow for that, but that’s definitely my intention.

[00:02:21] HM: Who or what were some of your biggest influences in feminist and queer pedagogy?

[00:02:26] BP: That’s a great question... One of my biggest influences is a... scholar named Jayna Brown. She was one of my mentors as an undergraduate at the University of California Riverside, and she, you know, I don’t know if she self-identifies as a Black feminist, but she’s definitely invested in the project of Black feminism and some of my first exposure to Black feminist text was through her. Her work is invested in thinking about Black feminism alongside performance. So, she’s definitely been a big influence to me and she encouraged me to apply to PhD programs, which at the time right out of, or at least two years removed from, undergraduate studies, I didn’t feel very prepared for. She said, “yeah, you’ll never know what people think.” So, I applied to one PhD program and all the rest Masters programs because of her, and I got into the one PhD program that I applied to because of her. Yeah, it’s kind of -- Not to say it’s all because of her, but that’s part of my investment in teaching the work of feminists, particularly Black feminists and... transnational feminists, or women of color or people of color that identify as feminists. I also think that, you know, my kind of... background in the working class has inspired my relationship to... understanding the importance of... you know... the labor of, not just women, but thinking about the labor of those that are... -- that cannot adhere to normative categories of gender and sexuality. In particular I think about my grandmothers and my mother who took...well, both of my grandmothers were domestic workers, and my mother similarly had done in-home service. So, I was exposed to the feminization of certain type of labor early on. Especially as they relate to the labor of Black woman, and Black women’s relationship to domesticity for, not necessarily in relation to their home, but to others -- other folks’ homes. So, you know, to kind of see -- to be exposed to those kinds of disparities early on also makes me feel invested in teaching the work that articulates the kinds of... ways that certain folk have to do certain types of labor and are more vulnerable and susceptible to being exploited when it comes to... labor or having to, in the case of my grandmothers and my mother, having to engage in an occupation that carried the taint of slavery, right? Like, what does it...not to say that being a domestic worker is slavery by another world, but in many ways the kind of primacy of Black women working in the homes of often white people that was reproduced in that I saw my grandmother – my grandmothers having to do and what my mother had to do to survive. So, all of those kinds of things have inspired my investments in... feminist and queer pedagogy. And, in queer pedagogy thinking through a critique of, you know, heteronormativity or heteropatriarchy, right? Like, that field or that analytic being, the way that I engage in that way.

[00:06:10] HM: So, when was a time when you saw queer or feminist pedagogy have a positive influence or work well in the classroom?

[00:06:17] BP: I think Andrea Smith’s... Three Pillars of White Supremacy is a great text to use to think about... the stakes of gender and sexuality as they relate to race outside of, you know, a kind of identity based formulation or understanding that I think really strikes students, so that in a structural way they have to think about... race, right? And gender and sexuality alongside one another so it’s not so much how one identifies but how, you know, in the case of Andrea Smith’s -- that particular piece, the ways in which being indigenous and a women, or being Black and a woman, or being brown and a woman is a problem for the kind of social order that we live in. It’s not that our identities in and of themselves are... what we kind of have to articulate as the primacy but kind of how who we are is made a problem by this current social order that we’re in. I think that piece and Kimberle Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality is a really profound piece. Especially in the moment which we think intersectionality is meant to articulate identities. Like... I have six intersectionalities. I am a woman, and I am Black, and I’m queer, and I have a mental disability, etcetera, etcetera, right? You know, that’s not the kind of way in which she’s articulating or using intersectionality, or conceiving intersectionality, right? It’s about a structural scaffolding that allows the... matrices of race and gender and class to make Black women and women of color more vulnerable to facing certain forms of violence, right? Make them more vulnerable towards living in poverty, etcetera, etcetera. So, in that way I think her reading is also a great feminist and work that can be considered queer studies work that is trying to know, identity. You know, the primacy of identity and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and get students to really think about... structurally and institutionally what is the root of a lot of the violence and ills we face in the world. Those work really well in the classroom I believe.

[00:08:56] HM: So, last question. What motivated you to participate in this workshop, and what do you hope to get out of it?

[00:09:03] BP: Oh, that’s a great question. I think as a -- someone who is embarking upon their first job outside of -- or after getting my doctorate it’s important for me to kind of sharpen the tools of my pedagogy belt, per say. I feel like (pause) I’m sure many folk coming out of graduate school don’t feel like they’ve gotten adequate training when it comes to thinking about pedagogy and I’ve been fortunate enough to have mentors and experiences in graduate school that allowed me to teach and allowed me, you know, to kind of learn certain forms of pedagogy and engage in skills and learn methods and tools. But I also think this is a great opportunity for me to kind of hone in on some of those skills and think about what might be working for... you know... how I see my own pedagogy and what I want to be as a teacher. Which, from graduate school to now has... you know -- has started to shift and change. Also, because, quite honestly, this... I’m a visiting new faculty and this is my first job and teaching two sections of Intro to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I’ve had somewhat of a hard time engaging students. Or rather, getting students to feel like they can talk and take up space in the classroom, so I think this was also a way for me to kind of... talk about some of the challenges I’ve been facing and also think about how I might tailor the rest of the course -- And also, just think that sometimes it’s not me, as much as it is a set of circumstances that make teaching this kind of work hard. It’s been really great to just have a sounding board amongst other folk in the field of WGSS and just think about more concretely what it means to do this work in the classroom... because I don’t think that always happens, which is pretty sad. I’m pretty grateful to have been here and have participated.

[00:11:21] HM: It sounds like the workshops that I’ve seen the description for sound really cool. So, I’m happy that you were able to experience some great speakers and some great topics that you could actually grow from.

[00:11:32] BP: Absolutely, I think so too.

[00:11:33] [Both laugh]

[00:11:35] HM: Well, thank you for your time and we really appreciate you providing... the voice... that you have.

[00:11:42] BP: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, and I think it’s really cool that you guys get to do this in your class. You know, in thinking about pedagogy, this is a great way to expose students to... an alternative means to kind of engage with some of the ideas that you guys are learning in the context of class. So, I think that’s always really cool. Really cool. Okay, well I’ll stop talking.

[00:12:04] [Both laugh]

[End of Recording]





Malzeke, Hailey and Proctor, Brittnay, “Interview with Brittnay Proctor,” WGSS at Wooster: Past, Present, and Future , accessed July 22, 2024,