Jump to content

Alison Piepmeier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alison Piepmeier
Born(1972-12-11)December 11, 1972
DiedAugust 12, 2016(2016-08-12) (aged 43)
Academic background
Alma materVanderbilt University
Academic work
DisciplineWomen's and Gender Studies
Sub-disciplineEnglish, Disability Studies
InstitutionsCollege of Charleston

Alison Piepmeier (December 11, 1972 – August 12, 2016) was an American scholar and feminist, known for her book Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism.[1] She was director of Women's and Gender Studies and associate professor of English at the College of Charleston.[2]


Piepmeier was a third-generation graduate of Tennessee Technological University, having completed her bachelor's degree in 1994. She earned her Ph.D in English from Vanderbilt University.[3]

Career and research[edit]

Following her Ph.D studies, Piepmeier held the position of associate director of Vanderbilt's Women’s Studies Program. While there, she published the book Out in Public, which chronicles the lives of women who worked in public in the nineteenth century.[3] In 2005, she moved to Charleston and became the first full-time director of the College of Charleston's Women's and Gender Studies program.[4]

Piepmeier was known for her research on third wave feminist activism.[2] Her 2009 book Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism was the first book-length academic study of zines and women as zine creators.[5] She co-edited the 2003 anthology Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, a collection which is frequently taught in women's studies courses.[2]

In her work at the intersection of feminism and disability studies,[6] Piepmeier explored how women make reproductive decisions when prenatal testing reveals their fetus has Down syndrome,[7][8] and analyzed memoirs by parents of children with disabilities.[9] In 2013 she presented at conferences for genetics counsellors and genetics educators, raising questions around the value of eradicating disability from the human population.[10]

In addition to her academic writing, she contributed a column for the Charleston City Paper[11] and had written editorials for The New York Times Motherlode blog.[12] In these writings Piepmeier covered topics such as same-sex parents, women's rights, raising disabled children and the Black Lives Matter movement. She also wrote about personal experiences, such as her and her husband's decision to decline pre-natal foetal testing during her pregnancy in 2012, and her fight against cancer from 2015.[13][14]

Piepmeier was President of the Southeastern Women's Studies Association (SEWSA) from 2006 to 2008 and was a member of the Governing Council of the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA).[15]

Recognition and honors[edit]

In 2014, she was named as one of the 50 Most Progressive people in Charleston by online magazine Charlie.[16] In 2014, she also gained attention for leading the efforts to host performances of the musical Fun Home on the campus of the College of Charleston.[17]

In September 2016, the Southeastern Women's Studies Association (SEWSA) established a $500 "Outstanding Student Award" in Piepmeier's honor, and in December 2016, the NWSA established the $1,000 Alison Piepmeier Book Prize.[18]


On August 12, 2016, Piepmeier died from brain cancer after a seven-year battle with the disease.[19][13] Three weeks before her death, Piepmeier wrote a farewell column in the Charleston City Paper.[20] The column was picked up by mainstream outlets including Us Weekly[21] and ABC News.[22]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited with Rory Cooke Dicker, 2003, Northeastern University Press[23]
  • Out in Public: Configurations of Women’s Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America, 2004, University of North Carolina Press [24]
  • Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, 2009, New York University Press[25]
  • Unexpected: Parenting, Prenatal Testing, and Down Syndrome with George Estreich and Rachel Adams, published posthumously in 2020 by New York University Press.[26]


  1. ^ Girl zines : making media, doing feminism. New York University Press. OCLC 646885664. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Alison Piepmeier Bio".
  3. ^ a b "Focus on the Faculty at the College of Charleston". harwoodp.people.cofc.edu. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Alison Piepmeier". October 29, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Clark, Jessica (November 11, 2009). "Girl Talk". The American Prospect. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Piepmeier, Alison; Cantrell, Amber; Maggio, Ashley (March 18, 2014). "Disability Is a Feminist Issue: Bringing Together Women's and Gender Studies and Disability Studies". Disability Studies Quarterly. 34 (2). doi:10.18061/dsq.v34i2.4252. ISSN 2159-8371.
  7. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (2015). "Would It Be Better for Her Not to Be Born?: Down Syndrome, Prenatal Testing, and Reproductive Decision-Making". Feminist Formations. 27 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1353/ff.2015.0004. ISSN 2151-7371. S2CID 141614921.
  8. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (2013). "The Inadequacy of 'Choice': Disability and What's Wrong with Feminist Framings of Reproduction". Feminist Studies. 39 (1): 159–186. doi:10.1353/fem.2013.0004. S2CID 148692034. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  9. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (January 25, 2012). "Saints, Sages, and Victims: Endorsement of and Resistance to Cultural Stereotypes in Memoirs by Parents of Children with Disabilities". Disability Studies Quarterly. 32 (1). doi:10.18061/dsq.v32i1.3031. ISSN 2159-8371.
  10. ^ "Feminists We Love: Alison Piepmeier – The Feminist Wire". October 25, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Charleston City Paper author archive". Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  12. ^ "New York Times Motherlode blog".
  13. ^ a b Gidick, Kinsey (August 12, 2016). "Alison Piepmeier, CofC professor and writer, dies after long battle with brain cancer". Archived from the original on August 27, 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  14. ^ Piepmeier, Alison. "Choosing to Have a Child With Down Syndrome". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "People | Alison Piepmeier | The Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University". heymancenter.org. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  16. ^ Jones, Annabel (June 2, 2014). "Alison Piepmeier: mama on a mission". Charlie. Archived from the original on August 13, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  17. ^ "We're having to fight our asses off to protect academic freedom".
  18. ^ Menchaca, Ron. "Book Prize Honors Legacy of Alison Piepmeier". The College Today. College of Charleston. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  19. ^ Perkins, Erin (August 12, 2016). "The College Remembers Beloved Professor Alison Piepmeier". College of Charleston. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  20. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (July 20, 2016). "Piepmeier: Thank you for my beautiful life". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  21. ^ Abrahamson, Rachel Paula (July 25, 2016). "Writer With Terminal Brain Cancer Pens Heartbreaking Final Column". Us Weekly. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  22. ^ McKenzie, Joi-Marie (July 22, 2016). "Journalist With Cancer Says Life Was 'Rich and Beautiful' in Final Column". ABC News. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  23. ^ Dicker, Rory Cooke; Piepmeier, Alison (2003). Catching a wave : reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Boston: Northeastern University. ISBN 9781555535711. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  24. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (2004). Out in public : configurations of women's bodies in nineteenth-century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807829042. OCLC 55078159. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  25. ^ Piepmeier, Alison (2009). Girl zines : making media, doing feminism. New York: NYU Press. ISBN 9781441633835. OCLC 646885664. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  26. ^ "Unexpected". NYU Press. Retrieved January 14, 2021.

External links[edit]