Dr. Melissa Ooten
Associate Director of WILL*
Gender Research Specialist
Courses Taught WILL* Colloquium: Gender, Race, and Activism Gender and Work Disaster, Memory, and Popular Culture Gender and Popular Culture Human Rights and Civil Rights Monument, Museum, Memorial

Melissa Ooten is the associate director of the WILL* program and a gender research specialist at the University of Richmond. She has worked with WILL* since 2005 and is deeply committed to educating the next generation of social justice advocates. She holds a PhD in history from The College of William and Mary and specializes in studying social movements in the US South. She published Race, Gender, and Movie Censorship in Virginia, 1922–1965 with Rowman and Littlefield in 2015 and has written a number of articles on issues ranging from mass incarceration to eugenics to teaching #BlackLivesMatter through film. Audacious Voices: Profiles in Intersectional Feminism, co-edited with WILL* director Holly Blake, will be published by She Writes Press in fall 2018. This edited collection features twelve stories written by alums about the power of the WILL* program in their lives during and beyond college.


Invited Presenter, “Censorship in Black and White:  African American Resistance to State Censorship in Virginia,” Birth of an Answer:  100 Years of African American Filmmaking, Old Dominion University, September 2015.
Presenter, “Race, Space and Place in the American South:  Virginia’s Civil Rights Monument and Memorialization in Richmond, VA,” Southern Association for Women Historians, June 2015.
Panelist, Doing Social Justice:  Creative Feminist Activism for the Classroom, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, November 2014.
Moderator, Working Toward a Feminist Future:  Undergraduates Organizing for Social Change, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, November 2012.
Presenter, Practicing Theory, Theorizing Practice:  Making Women’s Studies Relevant to Campus and Community, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, November 2011.
Presenter, Welfare Rights and the Democratic Promise:  Poor Women’s Activism and the Demands of Citizenship in the Long Civil Rights Movement, Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 2011.

Facilitator, The Gender Pay Gap, Women in the Know Conference, University of Richmond, June 2011.

Moderator, Is the Personal Still Political?  Perspectives from Young Feminists Today, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, November 2010.
Presenter, Teaching Public History and Activism on the Road, Women’s History/Women’s Activism Conference, Canadian Conference of Women’s Historians, August 2010.
Session Organizer and Presenter, Just Around the Bend:  Teaching the Civil Rights Movement on the Road, Southern Historical Association Conference, October 2008.
Presenter, Politics of the Body, Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 2008.
Panel Organizer and Moderator, Filming History, Southern Historical Association Conference, October 2007.
Presenter, Theory and Practice:  An Activist Model for Bridging Women’s Studies Programs and Women’s Center, National Women’s Studies Association, June 2006.
Paper presenter, Film and History, American Cultural Association/Popular Culture Association, April 2006.

National Women's Studies Association
American Historical Association
American Association of University Women
Southern Association for Women's Historians
Additional Publications

Race, Gender and Movie Censorship in Virginia, 1922-1965 Lantham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield.  2014.  New Directions in Southern History series edited by John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of History at UNC-Charlotte. 

“From the Coal Mine to the Prison Yard: The Human Cost of Appalachia’s New Economy” with Jason Sawyer, William Shumann, and Rebecca Adkins-Fletcher, eds., Appalachia Revisited: Perspectives on Regional Continuity and Change (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2014).

Censorship in Black and White: The Cultural and Racial Politics of Film Censorship in the Post World War II American South,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, Winter 2013.

A History of Resilience is a History of Resistance.” Appalachian Journal. Spring 2011.

Waves of Feminism: Discussions and Disruptions.” With Emily Miller. Alice Ginsberg, ed. And Finally We Meet: Intersections and Intersectionality Among Feminist Activists, Academics and Students. Towson, MD: Institute for Teaching and Research on Women.

Tackling the PIC: Successes and Challenges in Teaching the Prison-Industrial Complex.”  Radical Teacher. 2010.88 (2010): 32-43. Print.

“Connecting Theory and Practice.” With Holly Blake. Ms. Magazine.

Bridging the Divide: Connecting Feminist Histories and Activism in the Classroom.” With Holly Blake. Radical History Review 2008.102 (2008): 63-72. Print.

Dangerous Bodies: Women and the Censorship of Sex Hygiene Films in Virginia.” Screen Media and Sexual Politics Anthology. Cambridge: Scholars Press.

Filming Eugenics: Teaching the History of Eugenics Through Film.” With Sarah Trembanis. The Public Historian 29.3 (2007): 145-55. Print.

Ph.D., College of William and Mary 2005
M.A., College of William and Mary 2001
B.A., Carson-Newman College 1999
History and Political Science
Contact Information
(804) 289-8578
(804) 287-6061 (Fax)