About Brenna Wynn Greer
I am a historian of race, gender, and culture in the twentieth century United States. My research focuses on the relationships between social movements — especially the civil rights movement — the market, and visual culture.
My book, Represented: The Black Imagemakers Who Reimagined African American Citizenship (University of Pennsylvania Press) examines the work of black entrepreneurs in the World War II era who generated media representations that forged associations between blackness and Americanness that facilitated civil rights agendas.
As Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College, I teach courses on topics in twentieth century U.S. history, including World War II, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the broader black freedom struggle, as well as courses on consumerism and visual culture. My teaching revolves around rigorous analyses of how people experience and shape definitions of gender, race, class, sexuality, and citizenship.
As an assistant professor, I was honored to be named the Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences — an endowed chair made possible by the largess of Wellesley College trustee Sidney Knafel. I have also received support for my research, writing, and teaching from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, New York Public Library, and Suzy Newhouse Center for Humanities. And, I am a ridiculously proud recipient of Wellesley College’s highest teaching honor, the Anna and Samuel Pinanski Award.
In my role as a scholar, I am committed to illuminating and also eradicating racial disparities and other barriers to freedom. Throughout my academic career, I have worked as an instructor for programs intended to increase the numbers of people of color in higher education. The questions central to my research concern if and how people from marginalized groups can thrive in the United States without upholding power structures harmful to their greater population or others.
I devote a significant amount of time and energy to mentoring students, particularly those of color and first generation students. This is perhaps the most gratifying aspect of my job. For one, people did it for me. Moreover, I know all too well that women of color, especially, experience particular pressures and anxieties in “the academy.” Often, we are our own worst enemy when we fail to ask questions or seek help, for fear of “exposing” the un-belonging we might already feel.