Carolyn Dinshaw is senior program officer for Higher Learning. Ms. Dinshaw brings to the Foundation a career-long dedication to interdisciplinary study as well as familiarity with a broad range of US higher education institutions. She has created new structures for creative scholarly and pedagogical work in addition to having served in a variety of administrative roles.
Ms. Dinshaw received her AB from Bryn Mawr College, followed by her PhD from Princeton University in English literature. From 1982 to 1999 she was a faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was instrumental in the early development of LGBTQ studies. Moving to New York University, she was founding director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality from 1999 to 2005. Concurrently she directed the gender and sexuality studies program, developing a new, intersectional curriculum. She also helped to found the interdisciplinary department of social and cultural analysis, chairing it from 2006 to 2007 and 2012–2015. Named the Julius Silver Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English at NYU in 2015, she served as dean for the humanities from 2018 to 2021. In her twenty-three years at the institution, Ms. Dinshaw regularly taught materials past and present, on topics ranging from medieval misogyny to queer New York City. In addition, she taught through NYU's prison education program at Wallkill Correctional Facility.
In her scholarly work Ms. Dinshaw has broken new ground in medieval studies, feminist and queer studies, and studies of race and religion. Her publications include the first full-length feminist study of Chaucer, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), as well as two explorations of the desire for the past, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Duke University Press, 1999) and How Soon is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (Duke University Press, 2012). She was founding coeditor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (Duke University Press), the award-winning flagship journal of LGBTQ studies. Currently she is extending her scholarly and creative work into the visual realm with studies of impossible spaces like the Garden of Eden—on the map but inaccessible—and mirages, those unapproachable live images shot through with illusion and desire.