Teacher Feature: Amanda Izzo

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Teacher Feature: Amanda Izzo

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From changing oil to changing views on feminism

In a new UNews series, Teacher Feature, a professor at SLU is chosen to be interviewed by a student writer. This week’s Teacher Feature is Dr. Amanda Izzo, from Women’s and Gender Studies.

Izzo supported herself during her extensive schooling by working at a car service facility. Although, with age, it has become a bit more difficult, she continues to change her own oil. Izzo has also worked as a restaurant waitress and as a sales clerk at a candle shop — where she was expected to wear the dress of a German peasant girl.

It might come as no surprise, then, that one of her pieces of advice for SLU students is to diversify. “It pays to be versatile,” Izzo promised. While she was specifically referring to those students interested in entering higher education as a profession, the advice spills over to those interested in business and other professions, too. Izzo warned against going to graduate school, “just to go to grad school,” noting that it sometimes paid to have other experiences first to help hone one’s interests and passions, or even just to mature.

Of course, Izzo has not always worked at SLU, but came here by way of Smith College, where she did her undergraduate work; Yale University, where she was a graduate student; and Harvard Divinity School, where she completed a fellowship. Izzo’s studies at Smith and Yale revolved around American Studies. Her undergraduate thesis focused on Helen Gurley Brown, concentrating on her book, “Having It All,” and her work of over 30 years with “Cosmopolitan.”

Trained as a historian, Izzo currently teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at SLU. When asked for one thing that she would change about SLU, Izzo hesitated, and confessed that there were actually more things that she liked about the University than disliked. She did admit that the Women’s and Gender Studies Program did have only one tenured professor, even with growing student enrollment. This brought her to some of the challenges the program faces at the University. Izzo noted that many students simply are prejudiced toward feminist issues, often misunderstanding what, exactly, feminism means. Rather than “man hating, strident, or narrow minded” feminism as a movement, feminists themselves, and students enrolled in the courses offered by the program, are simply interested in gender issues  – which is a relatively new way to frame historical issues.

Next semester, Izzo will be teaching her favorite class, Intro to Sexuality Studies, offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. The course can also be made into a graduate class for interested students. Aside from next semester’s course, Izzo will continue her research interest in Christian women’s organizations — specifically their liberal political activism. Students interested in learning more about this topic are invited to a reading group held monthly that concentrates more broadly on religion in American culture. The group meets in Adorjan Hall and is facilitated by Dr. Kate Moran from the Department of American Studies. All students are welcome.

It might come as no surprise that one of the things Izzo loves most about SLU is its level of social engagement. She also has interest in furthering connections between the campus and the community. Izzo hopes that with the help of the University, strides can be made in public education for the city of St. Louis.