Department of Women's Studies

Susan E. Cayleff
Graduate Advisor
Department of Women's Studies
San Diego State University


Susan E. Cayleff is Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of the Master’s Program at SDSU. She is also adjunct faculty in American Indian Studies and Chicano/Chicana Studies. She served as Department Chair 1997-2005 and joined the faculty at SDSU in 1987. Prior to SDSU she was an Assistant Professor in the Institute for the Medical Humanities, Preventive Medicine and Community Health Division at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, 1983-1987.


  • Ph.D. Brown University, American Civilization
  • M.A Brown University, American Civilization
  • M.A. Sarah Lawrence College, Women’s History
  • B.A. University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Women’s Studies/Honors/History

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I was fortunate to be among the first-generation of Women’s Studies students to graduate. Then, as now, I believe our intradiscipline must link academic excellence with activism to better girls’ and women’s lives. Through my teaching, research and political activism I explore the intersections of gender, race, social class privilege, sexualities and heteronormativity. Oppressive meta-structures including capitalism, imperialism, professional expertise and the Westernization of global cultures are analyzed for their complicity in reproducing seismic economic and racial divides. Women’s Studies is one of the great revolutions of twentieth-century (now global) intellectual thought. It has challenged and successfully reordered the academy, fueled feminist activism and asserted girl’s and women’s instrumentality in human history and creativity.

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  • Body Politics
  • Narrating Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography as History
  • Women, Health and Healing
  • Women in Sport: Historical and Contemporary Issues
  • Foundations of Feminist Scholarship
  • Women’s Sexualities
  • American Women’s History, pre-colonization to the present

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'Fighting the Great Poisons!': American Naturopathic Healing, Ideology and Gender Relations, 1896-1940
submitted to press

Which Door Am I?: Gendered Iconography in Public Places
nearing completion

The Greatest All-Sport Athlete of All Time: Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Conari Press

Babe: The Life and Legend of ‘Babe’ Iidrikson Zaharias 1911-1956
University of Illinois

Pulitzer Prize Nominee and Recipient of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Outstanding Book Award, San Diego.

Wings of Gauze: Women of Color and the Experience of Health and Illness
Wayne State University Press


Wash and Be Healed: The Water Cure Movement and Women’s Health
Temple University Press



Journal of International Women’s Studies, Journal of Lesbian Studies; Journal of Naturopathic Medicine; Magazine of History; Historical Journal of Massachusetts; Radical History Review; Social Science and Medicine; Women’s Studies Quarterly; Rounds; Texas Medicine; Journal of Counseling and Development; Womantide and others


American Historical Review; Bulletin of the History of Medicine; International Journal of Women’s Studies; Journal of Southern History; Journal of the History of Sexuality; Journal of Policy History; Journal of San Diego History; Oral History Review; Journal of Sport History; Journal of Women’s History; Journal of American History; Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences; Women’s Review of Books and others

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  • American women’s history: multiculturalism, geopolitical contexts, social class differentiations, sexualities and radicalisms
  • Genders and Sexualities: The Body as Political Terrain
  • Life writing as history.
  • History of and current issues in healing and medicine; women as healers and practitioners of folk and non-dominant modalities, body modifications and techno-solutions, lesbian health and patient-directed care
  • Sports: homophobia in women’s sports, elite athletes, lesbian sports culture and sports team’s cultures
  • Labor activism

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ACTIVISM (selected)

  • Co-chair and founding member of  SAFE ZONES/ SDSU.  Safe Zones works to create and maintain a safe, welcoming and supportive campus atmosphere for LBGTQI students, faculty, staff and administrators.
  • Faculty founder and mentor: the Young Women’s Studies Clubs at Hoover High School and Crawford (High School) Educational Complex, both in San Diego.
  • Women’s History Museum and Educational Center: collaborator, San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame Steering Committee, traveling exhibits through K-12 schools and all-around pinch hitter
  • Project Wildlife: transport injured and sick animals to care facilities

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AWARDS (selected)

  • Educator of the Year: The Center (LGBTQ) San Diego, CA. 2008
  • Presidential Leadership Fund Grants to enhance SAFE/ZONES SDSU and the Young Women’s Studies Club at Hoover High School, 2007 and 2008
  • University Senate Excellence in Teaching Award
  • Academic Mentor Honoree
  • Dean Carol Robisciotti Outstanding Faculty Community Service Learning Award
  • Most Influential Faculty Member to the Outstanding Women’s Studies Graduating Senior
  • Pulitzer Prize nominee, Babe: The Life and Legend
  • GLAAD, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Outstanding Book Award, San Diego
  • Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Outstanding Book in Lesbian Biography
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Research Award
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias Memorial Foundation Research Award
  • Research, Scholarship and Creativity Activity Awards, SDSU
  • Resident, Rockefeller Foundation Conference at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
  • Resident, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University
  • Kennedy Institute of Bioethics, Georgetown University

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American Indian Studies, adjunct faculty
Chicano/Chicana, Studies adjunct faculty

  • Pre-professional Health Advising
  • Brown University off-campus BASC interviewer
  • Board, Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies
  • Pacific Southwest Women’s Studies Association co-organized 2000 and 2001 conferences hosted at SDSU
  • Manuscript reviewer for the following University presses: Illinois,  Michigan; Arkansas; Temple; Minnesota and so on

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Boston Red Sox baseball (understatement)
Pow wows
"Wild Things: Outsider Art," my individually owned business
Road trips
Women’s sports, as participant and fan
All four-legged and winged creatures

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** The background image: The caribou is the only member of the deer family whose females grow antlers**

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