Prof. Herzig is on leave during the Academic Year 2017-2018.

Rebecca Herzig

Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies


Gender and Sexuality Studies

Pettengill Hall, Room 209

African American Studies

Pettengill Hall, Room 209


Rebecca Herzig holds the College’s only full-time faculty appointment in Women and Gender Studies.  She is a contributing member of the Programs in African American Studies and American Cultural Studies, and regularly advises theses in AAS, ACS, and History.  She teaches an array of interdisciplinary courses on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, science, technology, and medicine, including Methods and Modes of Inquiry, the required research methods course for WGS, AAS, and ACS.  She currently serves as chair of the Division of Interdisciplinary Programs as well as chair of the Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Her work includes Suffering for Science: Reason and Sacrifice in Modern America, The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics, and a new series, Feminist Technosciences, co-edited with Banu Subramaniam of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Her latest book, Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, has been named a “Best Book of 2015” by the Economist magazine and the Science Friday radio program, and a finalist for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance 2016 Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Excerpts from reviews of Plucked:

“The brutal methods of depilation Herzig records are as fascinating as they are horrific…. [U]ltimately Plucked is an important work, not least because it is so very readable.”

— Times Higher Education

“Between the forced shaving of beards, an act that is emotionally painful, and the waxing of pubic hair, an act that is physically painful, who gets to decide what torture is? When, Herzig wonders, does a practice cease to be unpleasant and become cruel? Many would answer ‘when it is involuntary’, but that begs a crucial question: What is ‘voluntary’?”

Wall Street Journal

“[A] smart and engaging social history.”

— Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Plucked’s thorough investigation of hair removal’s history makes this consuming read a wake-up call for those who haven’t yet interrogated our shaving, plucking, threading, and lasering habits.”

— Bitch

“[A] fascinating new book…very timely.”

— The Times (London)

“Read on. This book is astonishing.”

— Press Herald (Portland)

“In this fascinating look at hair and its removal, Rebecca Herzig manages to explore issues of race and gender, class and religion, power and commerce, with both intellectual rigor and a healthy sense of humor.”

— Boston Globe

“Herzig has opened new avenues for thinking about what it means to remove or embrace body hair. To depilate or not has long been discussed as political, but only in light of what the hair itself, or its absence, communicates…[P]ublic discussions about body hair tend to cluster around whether hairiness is unfeminine. Herzig, in contrast, lays bare a global network among petroleum production, migration, and personal grooming decisions—which, in her analysis, are never simply personal but rather interwoven with the economy, the environment, and animals, whose hair removal paved the way for human depilation.”

 — Women’s Review of Books

“[A]n interesting, serious, and meticulously researched contribution to American history, offering a variety of insights around key topics in the evolution of attitudes and practices relating to hair.”

— Journal of American History

“By its title, Plucked would seem to offer a volume of frothy fun (tinged with schadenfreude) about the high cost of fashion glory; it turns out to be eye-poppingly informative, thought-provoking and, almost against the author’s will, frothy fun.”

— Maclean’s