Wendy Kozol

  • Professor of Comparative American Studies
  • Affiliate of the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies


  • BA, Oberlin College, 1980
  • MA, Univ California Los Angeles, 1986
  • PhD, Univ Minnesota Minneapolis, 1990


Wendy Kozol is professor of comparative American studies with a concentration in visual culture studies. She joined the Oberlin faculty in 1992, first in the Department of History and then in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program before moving to her present position. Her research and teaching interests include visual culture studies, comparative feminist theories and methodologies, and militarization, human rights, and visual witnessing.

Professor Kozol is currently completing a book project with Rebecca A. Adelman ’01 titled “The War In Between” (to be published by Fordham University Press). In 2021, she published “‘Gonna Stomp some Rump’: Embodied Learning and the Politics of Pleasure in an American Studies Classroom,” which appeared in American Studies Pedagogy: Resources for Teaching American Studies, ed. E. Duclos-Orsello, J. Entin, and R. Hill. 

Professor Kozol will retire in June 2023.


Wendy Kozol publishes article about embodied learning

September 10, 2021

Professor of Comparative American Studies Wendy Kozol has published “‘Gonna Stomp some Rump’: Embodied Learning and the Politics of Pleasure in an American Studies Classroom” in American Studies Pedagogy: Resources for Teaching American Studies, ed. E. Duclos-Orsello, J. Entin, and R. Hill (University of Kansas Press, 2021). Featuring an impromptu moment in CAST 100 when she made all the students dance, this article explores embodied learning as a pedagogical practice that can foster student interrogations about how power, inequality, and difference operate both in the classroom and beyond.  

Wendy Kozol presents at panel

May 11, 2021

Professor of Comparative American Studies Wendy Kozol presented “Ethical Spectatorship: Looking at Hard Histories” as part of a panel sponsored by Yale University Art Gallery and the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning on April 28. The panel, “Reckoning with the Record: Ethical Spectatorship and Teaching Hard Histories,” discussed challenges and approaches to teaching from sources that tell the stories of trauma or racial and other inequities.

Wendy Kozol writes piece on visual display of militarized force

June 12, 2020

Professor of Comparative American Studies Wendy Kozol wrote a piece for Reading the Pictures about the visual display of militarized force used against peaceful demonstrators.

Wendy Kozol Publishes

January 30, 2019

Professor of Comparative American Studies Wendy Kozol published the paper "Radical Plurality and Visual Witnessing."

Wendy Kozol Coauthors Article with Alum

May 9, 2016

Wendy Kozol, professor and director of the comparative American studies program, and Rebecca A. Adelman ’01 have published “Ornamenting the Unthinkable: Visualizing Survival under Occupation” in a spring/summer 2016 Women’s Studies Quarterly special issue on survival (pgs. 171-187).

Confronting survival in visual cultures of war often requires departing from ideological absolutes (for sometimes the work of survival is ugly) and fantasies about resistance (for sometimes the work of survival is primarily utilitarian). Instead, this visual departure opens up alternative critical, political, and spectatorial possibilities. This article considers the interweaving of survival, catastrophe, and ordinariness in the needlepoint artwork of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz to illustrate this potential. Krinitz, who lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland, juxtaposes the luscious materiality and pastoral settings of 36 fabric collage and embroidered panels with a visual narrative of surviving genocidal violence. Arresting both for its virtuosic level of detail and frank rendition of the occupation and attendant traumas, Krinitz’s needlework ornaments the conjunction of the horrific and the quotidian. This jarring combination confronts viewers even as the haptic richness and sensory elegance of her craft pulls us toward spectatorial pleasures.

Rebecca Adelmann is associate professor of media and communication studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, specializing in visual culture, political theory, trauma studies, ethics, and cultural studies of war, terrorism, and militarization.

Wendy Kozol Fall Publications

November 21, 2014

Wendy Kozol’s new book, “Visible Wars and the Ambivalences of Witnessing,” was published by the University of Minnesota Press in fall 2014. This study brings a new perspective to enduring concerns about the efficacy of conflict photography and other forms of visual advocacy. In the 21st century, visuality has been a pivotal technology in U.S. militarism, as well as in critiques of the nation at war. This book analyzes both mainstream media and alternative visual projects to understand how representations of the U.S. at war navigate in, through, and around national security logics. Visual witnessing, she argues, often remains bound up in national security agendas even as it may stretch beyond those agendas into other terrains of possibility.

For the past two years, Wendy has also been working with a former student, Rebecca Adelman (OC ’01) on a new project titled “The War In Between.” Their first publication appeared this fall: “Banality: Discordant Affects and the Ethics of Spectatorship.” Theory & Event, vol. 17, issue 3 (2014).

Wendy also published two other articles this fall: “Witnessing Genocide and the Challenges of Ethical Spectatorship,” Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography, eds. S. Brophy and J. Hladki (U Toronto P); and “Witnessing Precarity: Photojournalism, Women’s/Human/Rights, and the War in Afghanistan,” in The Violence of the Image: Photography and International Conflict, ed. Liam Kennedy and Caitlin Patrick (I.B. Tauris).