Faculty Spotlight: Kimberly Hamlin

photo of Kimberly Hamlin

  • associate professor of history and American Studies; director American Studies Program
  • affiliate professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program
  • worked on various PBS documentaries, including Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars and Ken Burns' National Parks series
  • published her first book, From Eve to Evolution: Darwin , Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America, in May 2014


"I attended Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where I majored in American studies and English. After college, I worked on Susan Collins' campaign for U.S. Senate and then spent four years working in her DC office. In 2000, I headed to the University of Texas at Austin for my MA and PhD in American studies. In 2007, I completed my PhD and joined the faculty at Miami University.

"I really appreciate the interplay between the past and the present that an American studies approach affords. I'm also drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the field and its emphasis on cultural analysis.

"While in Austin attending graduate school I met two documentary filmmakers doing a project about a local troop of Girl Scouts, Troop 1500. What drew this particular troop together is that their mothers were all incarcerated. To make their documentary, the filmmakers wanted to know more about the history of the Girl Scouts as an organization. At the time, I was writing my master's thesis on the origins of the Girl Scouts, so I became a historical consultant on the film and also a mentor and volunteer to the troop!

"I also served as a research assitant on the 2009 Ken Burns documentary series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Currently, I serve as historical consultant for the Bearded Lady Project—a creative effort to bring more attention to the history of women in science, and paleontology in particular."


"At Miami, in keeping with the theme of interdisciplinary education, I have worked to build bridges, especially in the College of Arts and Science. For example, I am the co-chair of the Gender, Science, and Technology working group, which created a new class called WGS 204: Gender, Science, and Technology to encourage collaboration between the humanities, social science, and natural sciences.

"We also organized a speaker series on Gender, Science, and Technology. I've been really engaged with Miami's Humanities Center, where I have worked on the Valuing the Humanities Task Force and am currently on the HumanitiesWorks taskforce.
One of my favorite courses to teach is AMS 206, which is our methods and writing course. I teach my section on the theme of science and technology in our culture. I also regularly teach a class on Sex and Gender in America Culture [AMS 392] and AMS 180, an honors class for pre-med first-year students called Medicine, Disease, and Culture.

"My teaching goals are to introduce students to interdisciplinary cultural analysis, and especially to encourage them to develop their own ideas and voices as critical thinkers and writers. I want to see the classroom as a place where we all learn together and where they can construct and support with evidence their own ideas. I also want students to connect our classroom to the outside world.

"I enjoy teaching writing, so we do a lot of rough drafts, peer reviews, and writing workshops. It's fulfilling to see students over the course of the semester harness their own voices as writers!

"Overall, the reason I became a professor is because I love to learn. Brainstorming new ideas and projects definitely keeps me motivated. It's really fun to meet a new group of students each year and watch them grow, sometimes over four years if they take multiple classes with me."


"My research interests focus on women, gender, and science, particularly from the end of the 19th century through the 1920s. For example, I wrote an article called 'The Case of a Bearded Woman,' which is about the 'disease' of hypertrichosis—superfluous hair in women. It demonstrates how and why facial hair in women came to be considered a disease in the 1870s and what this tells us about gender and science more broadly.

"My first book, From Eve to Evolution, came out in 2014. It analyzes how women in the nineteenth century responded to evolutionary theory and used science for feminist purposes.

"My second book is a biography of a woman, Helen Hamilton Gardener, who was very involved in science in the 19th century and then turned her attention to suffrage in the 20th century. She was a major suffrage leader and played a vital role in getting the 19th Amendment through Congress. In 1925, she donated her brain to science to prove that women's brains weren't inferior to men's. I hope to tell the story of first wave feminism through her eyes."

Outside the Classroom

"I enjoy volunteering in Cincinnati, where I live, and spending time with my husband, two children, and friends."

[August 2015]