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Kelly Watson

Service Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Women’s and Gender Studies

Dr. Watson oversees the undergraduate programs in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at WVU. She received her PhD in American Culture Studies, along with graduate certificates in Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies from Bowling Green State University. She previously served as Associate Professor of History at Avila University in Kansas City, MO as well as Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. At Avila, Dr. Watson also served as the Director of Study Abroad Programs and as a governing member of the program in Women’s and Gender Studies. She was instrumental in establishing Avila University’s first ever Honors Program and was slated to be its inaugural Director before coming to WVU. In addition to courses in theories and practices of women’s and gender studies, Dr. Watson has taught many courses, including those focused on women’s history, the history of sex and sexuality, slavery and the slave trade, imperialism and conquest in North America, and Native American studies. Learn more at

Dr. Watson uses she/her pronouns.


Dr. Watson’s research has covered a seemingly wide range of disparate topics: from the power of accusations of cannibalism in the early modern Atlantic world to more recent research about sex and Native American diplomacy in the Chesapeake. What unites these topics is her abiding interest in the cultural history of bodies, sex, and sexuality in the early modern Atlantic world, particularly in zones of contact between Indigenous Americans and European imperialists. She is currently working on her second book which will focus on the historical roots of asexuality, abstinence, and celibacy in colonial North America.


“Mary Kittamaquund Brent, ‘the Pocahontas of Maryland:’ Sex, Marriage and Diplomacy in the 17th century Chesapeake,”  Early American Studies (Winter 2021).

Visiting Regional Faculty Fellowship. Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas (postponed due to COVID-19).

“Sex and Cannibalism: The Politics of Carnal Relations between Europeans and American ‘Anthropophagites.’” In  To Feast on Us as Their Prey: Cannibalism in the Early Modern Atlantic edited by Rachel Herrmann. University of Arkansas Press, 2019. 2020 Edited Volume Winner, Association for the Study of Food and Society Book Award.

Insatiable Appetites: Imperial Encounters with Cannibals in the North Atlantic World, New York University Press.  Early American Places series (2015, paperback 2017).


WGST 200: Feminist Histories and Practices

WGST 460: Men and Masculinities