Rebecca Aanerud

Becky Aanerud

Principal Lecturer Emeritus

B.A., General Studies (with concentration in feminist theory), University of Washington
M.A. English, University of Washington
Ph.D. English, University of Washington

Phone: 425-352-3687; 206-543-5139
Email: raan@uw.edu
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


I think what keeps me able to teach well is that I have not yet forgotten what it was like to be a student. Throughout my undergraduate education I was on Pell Grants, student loans, work study, merit scholarships, and I cooked at a restaurant. As such, I understand the difficulty of wanting to be an excellent student, figuring out how to pay bills, and stressing about future loan payments. My goal is to teach through the eyes of my students (diverse as they are).  I try to remember that my students are juggling many responsibilities and therefore need me to be consistent, clear, compassionate, and set high standards. I am dedicated to figuring out how to explain difficult concepts in as many ways as possible. Ultimately, I want students to grapple with complex ideas and situations so they can begin to develop their own intellectual insights. I want them to see that their ideas and perspectives might change over the course of their education through their critical engagement with the world.  For me teaching, both graduate students and undergraduate students, is a deeply intellectual activity that is fundamentally about connecting with students. When I won the distinguished teaching award in 2008 (on the Seattle campus), it was simultaneously an acknowledgement of my commitment to students and renewal of the high bar that I set for myself each and every time I walk into the classroom.   

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 224 Introduction to Feminist Studies
BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone
BISGWS 303 Approaches to Feminist Inquiry


My scholarship focuses on feminist theory, critical race theory, and wisdom studies. My primary work has been in the field of critical whiteness studies in which I explore the various ways in which whiteness is reproduced as racial norm and a dominant position within the context of the United States. While my publications on whiteness vary considerably, the connecting theme is on accountability and how to ask new questions. A driving question that shapes my research: How can we learn to be accountable to the histories of structural privilege and oppression in which we find ourselves to enable new forms of inquiry that offer the potential for more just futures?

This question informs my current research on wisdom. Wisdom has largely been overlooked in feminist analysis in favor of more conventional studies of knowledge as epistemology. By taking wisdom as a site of study, I am interested in opening new avenues for social critique and transformation. Unlike knowledge, wisdom presupposes and invites greater uncertainty, exploration and ambiguity. I am drawn to the words of Patricia Kennedy Arlin, who suggests that, “wisdom may be more a matter of interrogatives rather than declaratives…[it is] the role of the question that is found under conditions of uncertainty” that characterizes wisdom

Selected Publications

“Humility and Whiteness: ‘How did I look without seeing, hear without listening?’” in How Does it Feel to Be A White Problem? Ed. George Yancy (Lexington, 2014).

“The Legacy of White Supremacy and the Challenge of White Antiracist Mothering” Hypatia (vol 22 no2 spring, 2007).

“Widening the Lens on Gender and Tenure: Looking Beyond the Academic Labor Market” Lead author with Lori Homer, Emory Morrison, Elizabeth Rudd, Maresi Nerad and Joseph Cerny. Special issue Women and Tenure in National Women Studies Association Journal (vol 19 no3 fall, 2007).

“Thinking Again: This Bridge Called My Back and the Challenge to Whiteness" in This Bridge We Call Home. Eds. AnaLouise Keating and Gloria Anzaldua. (Routledge, 2002).

“Now More than Ever: James Baldwin and the Critique of White Liberalism" in James Baldwin Now. Ed. Dwight McBride (New York University Press, 1998).

“Fictions of Whiteness:  Speaking the Names of Whiteness in US Literature," in Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism Ed. Ruth Frankenberg (Duke University Press, 1997).