“I don’t want to be the authoritative person in the classroom. My favorite classes are the ones where I get to facilitate and step in as needed. The classes are there for the students. It’s not my soapbox.”
The first thing you notice about Avery Tompkins is his energy. He exudes enthusiasm. Perhaps that comes from the many hours he’s spent hiking the Appalachian Trail (nearly 500 miles so far). Or perhaps, as a self-described “teacher/scholar/activist,” he is simply accustomed to juggling multiple roles and shifting his energies from one task to the next.
Whatever the source, he is obviously excited to be on the Transylvania campus. It was the small class size and the caliber of students that drew him here. He also recognized that the students are engaged, both on and off campus. As he explains, they “consider themselves students and activists,” which helps him forge an instant connection with them.
Tompkins can’t wait to get in the classroom. “My favorite thing about teaching is when the students come in and they know absolutely nothing about a topic. And then they get really excited about it. Or, when a student resists a topic or subject in the beginning, but at the end of the term is suddenly a huge advocate for that issue.
“I love watching light bulbs go off. I love it when a student who has really struggled raises her hand and is able to explain a concept to the class.”
Tompkins knows he’s been successful when he sees his students develop a depth of understanding that allows them to teach their peers. He prefers to be a facilitator in the classroom rather than the guy running the show. “I would rather help them construct their own class together. That allows them to focus on what they want to learn.”
As a social scientist with degrees in sociology and psychology, Tompkins is interested in the interdisciplinary aspects of gender studies. He feels a liberal arts curriculum like Transylvania’s is a natural home for a women’s studies program.
“Students can all find something of interest in the women’s studies program—whether they’re biology majors, religion majors, or foreign language majors. Women’s studies cuts across so many different fields.”
“(Trans) Sexualities and Contested Identities: Cis/Trans Relationships and the (Queer) Politics of Naming.” Annual speaker series in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Saint Mary’s College, South Bend, Ind., January 31, 2012. (Invited)
“‘If It’s Not Part of My Grade, I Don’t Care’: Increasing Student Reading Through Writing.” Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Society, Atlanta, Ga., August 17, 2010.
“Queering Methods: Imagining New Intersections of Theory and Practice for Applied Sociology,” co-presented with Karen Macke. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Atlanta, Ga., August 15, 2010.
“Multimedia Methodologies: Qualitative Technologies.” Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society, Chicago, Ill., April 2, 2010, and Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, Boston, Mass., March 21, 2010.
“Teaching Sociology: Pedagogy and Syllabi Construction” co-presented with Stephanie Crist and Alecea Standlee. Department of Sociology, Syracuse University, November 3, 2009.
Areas of research
- Ph.D., Sociology, Syracuse University, 2011
- C.A.S., Women's Studies, Syracuse University, 2007
- M.A., Sociology, Syracuse University, 2004
- B.A., Sociology and Psychology, University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, 2003
- First-Year Seminar
- Introduction to Women’s Studies
- Transgender Studies
- Queer Critiques
- Activism and Social Media
- “‘There’s No Chasing Involved’: Cis/Trans Relationships, ‘Tranny Chasers,' and the Future of a Sex-Positive Trans Politics.” Forthcoming in a special issue on “Trans Sexualities” in The Journal of Homosexuality.
- Rawson, K.J. and Avery Brooks Tompkins. 2010. Review of Transforming Gender: Transgender Practices of Identity, Intimacy, and Care, by Sally Hines. Journal of Gender Studies 19(1):98-100.
Areas of research
- Qualitative methods and ethnography
- Teaching, learning, and pedagogy
- Genders and sexualities
- Queer studies and theories
- Queer ruralities and queer ecologies
- Sociology of the body
- Sociology of technology
- Social inequalities and intersectionality
- Everyday activism and resistance
- Communities and collective identities
- Foundation Award for Outstanding Graduate Student, Syracuse University, LGBT Resource Center, 2011
- Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, The Graduate School, Syracuse University, 2010
- American Sociological Society (ASA)
- Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP)
- Eastern Sociological Society (ESS)
- Midwest Sociological Society (MSS)