Alix Olson

Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS)

Dr. Olson is an assistant professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the co-director of Emory's Studies in Sexualities program. Olson holds a PhD in Political Science and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies from the University of MA, Amherst. Olson's research interests include contemporary social and political thought; feminist, queer, and anti-racist politics; and the history of social movements. Dr. Olson's book The End of Resistance, an intellectual genealogy of four decades of resistance under neoliberalism, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press (Jan., 2024). Olson is currently at work on two projects. The Promise(s) of Resilience: Governance and Resistance in Complex Times (Columbia University Press) offers a critical examination of the rise and circulation of the concept of “resilience” within 21stCentury political life.  Mad Max, Fury Road: Feminist Apocolypse (Bloomsbury Publishing) is an experimental manuscript, combining film analysis, poetry, and contemporary political theory. Dr. Olson has published articles in Contemporary Political TheoryNew Political ScienceWagadu: Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies and contributed book chapters to a range of scholarly collections. She has received the “Christian Bay Award” for the paper presented at APSA that “best exemplifies the goal of New Political Science: making the study of politics relevant to the struggle for a better world.”  Dr. Olson has served as program chair for the American Political Science Association's (APSA) New Political Science division and is currently co-chair of the National Women's Studies Association's (NWSA) Reproductive Justice interest group. At Umass Amherst, Dr. Olson received the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award and, more recently, she received Oxford College Mizell Award for teaching-service and Emory University's "Women of Excellence" Teaching Award (2022). Dr. Olson has participated in the Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellowship, a number of CFDE Teaching Fellowship programs, and is the recipient of an Allen Grant (Oxford) and the 2023-2024 University Research Committee grant (Emory). At Oxford, Dr. Olson is faculty advisor for ReVision Intersectional Feminists. 

Prior to Olson's academic life, she toured internationally for over a decade as a spoken word artist, regularly appearing in media outlets like HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Air America (with Rachel Maddow), and NPR. She was the recipient of OutMusic's Artist of the Year, the DC Rape Crisis Center's "Visionary Award," and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.  Olson has published widely within popular media including in Ms. and Curve Magazines, co-authored Burning Down The House (Soft Skull Press, 2002), and is editor of the spoken word anthology Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution (Seal Press, 2007) which bell hooks calls an anthology “to resurrect you.”  Her poems have been featured in over a dozen anthologies and scholarly journals, including Women's Studies Quarterly (forthcoming, 2024), and on Showtime's The L Word: Generation Q.  Olson has produced three spoken word albums and poetry books, and the award-winning documentary film Left Lane: On The Road With Alix Olson. Dr. Olson has lectured and taught social justice, art and politics, and writing workshops and performed spoken word poetry at over 300 colleges and universities, and at political conferences, high schools, and prisons across the United States and internationally.



BA| Wesleyan University| 1998

MA| University of Massachusetts, Amherst| 2013

PhD| University of Massachusetts, Amherst| 2018

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 
  • Feminist Theory 
  • Special Topics in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Independent Studies (WGSS and Political Science)
  • Studies in Sexualities
  • Art of U.S. Politics 
  • Feminist Art(s) of Politics 
  • Introduction to Political Theory 
  • Introduction to American Politics 
  • Introduction to International Relations
  • American Political Thought 


  • University Research Committee Grant, 2023-2024
  • Allen Grant, Oxford, 2022-2023
  • Emory's Women of Excellence Teaching Award, 2022
  • CFDE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Teaching Fellow, Emory University, 2022-2023 
  • Mizell Award, Oxford College, 2021
  • Arts and Social Justice Fellowship, Emory University, 2020 
  • CFDE Teaching Fellow, Emory University, 2019
  • University Dissertation Writing Fellowship, UMass Amherst, 2017
  • Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, Research Associate, 2016-2017
  • Graduate Research Initiative Grant, UMass Amherst PoliSci, 2016 
  • Christian Bay Best Paper Award, American Political Science Assoc., 2014 
  • Center for Research on Families Dissertation Fellowship, 2013
  • University Distinguished Teaching Award, UMass Amherst, 2013
  • Graduate Research Initiative Grant, UMass Amherst, 2013
  • Residential First Year Experience Student Choice Teaching Award, UMass, 2012
  • Distinction, Contemporary Social and Political Thought Comprehensive Exam, 2012
  • Distinction, Interdisciplinary Political Science Comprehensive Exam, 2012


Books (forthcoming and under contract) 

  • The Ends of Resistance: Making and Unmaking Democracy, Columbia University Press- forthcoming 2024
  • The Art(s) of Political Thought, Suny Press- forthcoming 2024
  • The Promise of Resilience: Governance and Resistance in Complex Times, Columbia University Press- forthcoming 2025
  • Mad Max, Fury Road: Feminist Apocolypse, Bloomsbury Press- forthcoming 2025

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters                                                          

  • The Promise(s) of Resilience in Revolutionary Hope in a Time of Crisis (Routledge Press), forthcoming 2024.
  • Repossessing Utopia from Below: Black/Feminist/Queer Utopianism in American Political Thought” in Utopian Imaginings: Saving the Future in the Present (Suny University Press), forthcoming 2024 

  • Hope as Antiracist Praxis in African American Political Thought in The Oxford Compendium of Hope (Oxford University Press), forthcoming Fall 2023.

  • Critical Exchange: Toni Morrison and Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, 2020.

  • Queer(y)ing Permanent Partnership. Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies, 12, Summer 2014.

  • Towards A Post-Parsimonious Political Science in Studying Politics Today: Critical Approaches to Political Science, eds. Nancy S. Love and Mark Mattern. London: Routledge, 2014 (reprint).  

  • Archiving Optimism in Agitation with a Smile: Howard Zinn’s Legacies and the Future of Activism, eds. Steven Bird, et al. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, May 2013.
  • Towards A Post-Parsimonious Political Science. New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture35:3, September 2013. 

Research Interests

Contemporary Social and Political Thought; Feminist, Queer, and Anti-Racist Politics; History of Social Movements; Art and Politics.