Cait Parker

Cait Parker Profile Picture
American Studies

Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Yvonne Pitts, History Department.

Specific Research Area / Project:
Queer History, Carceral History, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Undergraduate Institution:
Radford University

Research Profile:

My research broadly focuses on incarceration, sexuality, and activism by interrogating sexual and gender regulation, criminalization, and social movements in the United States. I am currently conducting archival research by studying letters, articles, art, poetry, and newsletters written by incarcerated lesbians in feminist and LGBTQ+ periodicals from the 1960s-1990s and considering how they organized alongside LGBTQ+ activist movements. Using these periodicals, I will explore how incarcerated lesbians were directly (or indirectly) negotiating limits of citizenship through community organizing, self-advocacy, activism, and artistic resistance.

Eventually, I hope my research will contribute to activist and academic conversations concerning prison abolition. The prison industrial complex continues to have devastating personal and social consequences for communities of color, as well as queer, immigrant, trans, and poor communities -- particularly targeting sex workers and folks living with mental illness and addiction. Collectively, I hope we can begin to envision a radically different system that promotes healing, rather than perpetuating harm and disposability.

About Me:

Cait Parker About Me Picture

At Radford University, I studied Women's, Queer, and resistance history and literature. I also taught community-engagement centered composition courses that interrogated mass incarceration, institutional racism and classism, and police brutality.

After graduating with an M.A. in English, I accepted a position as a community worker in Rochester, New York. I engaged in anti-poverty work, focusing on education and harm reduction initiatives. I served as LGBTQ+ student support, provided trauma-informed academic and emotional support, and helped implement restorative justice practices in the Rochester City School District. This community work in New York and my background studying resistance histories and literatures guides my current scholarly research.

In 2018, I accepted a doctoral fellowship in Purdue’s American Studies Department, providing me with the opportunity to combine activism and scholarship.


  • Promise Research Award, Purdue University, 2019.
  • Lynn Fellowship Award, American Studies, Purdue University, 2018.
  • English Department Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 2017.
  • Graduate Teaching Fellow Scholarship, English Department, Radford University, 2016.
  • Graduate College Professional Development Award, Radford University, 2016
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Scholarship, English Department, Radford University, 2015.


  • “Anticipating Intersectionality: The Activist Work of Tar Baby, The Color Purple, and Zami” co-presented with Dr. Michele Ren and Dr. Moira P. Baker, Intersectional Inquiries Conference, 2017, University of Notre Dame
  • “A Point of Resistance: Exploring the Damaging Consequences and Powerful Advantages of Discourse in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home.”
  • On the Voice: Identity, Difference, Expression Conference, 2017, University of Rochester, Susan B. Anthony Institute
  • “Un-doing What Comes Naturally: Discourse as Constraint and Empowerment in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home.”
  • Humanities Education and Research Association Conference, 2016


  • ASGSO Treasurer, Purdue University, 2019-20.
  • Curriculum Committee, American Studies, Purdue University, 2018-19.
  • Restorative Practices for Youth, Roc Restorative, Rochester, New York, 2017.
  • Family/Youth Engagement, Monroe County System of Care, Rochester, New York, 2017.
  • Project Homeless Connect, Rochester, New York, 2017.
  • Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, Roanoke, Virginia, 2016-17.
  • Safe-Zone Trainer, Radford University, 2016-17.
  • Women’s and Gender Studies Advisory Committee Member, Radford University, 2016-17.

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