Michigan State University
Michigan State University
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Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Department of Writing
Rhetoric & American Cultures

Meet Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill

Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill received their PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from MSU in 2008. Dr. Driskill, a Cherokee Two-Spirit, is now Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Oregon State University. Their research interests include Native American and Indigenous Studies, Queer Studies, and creative writing.

Dr. Driskill’s most recent work is a book entitled Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory. They describe this book as “looking at how a Cherokee-centered Two-Spirit critique can challenge ideas of memory and history… and try to imagine different futures.”

Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill, taken from Oregon State faculty page

Dr. Driskill doesn’t see a strict divide between academic and creative work. They say, “Creative work is scholarly and academic work is creative. There are different ways of talking about all our issues.” True to defying this divide, Dr. Driskill’s current project is a collection of poetry. It’s still a work in process, but they say that right now, it deals with themes of memory and loss, as well as love and resistance.

Dr. Driskill is currently teaching a PhD research seminar, a graduate course in social justice theory and practice, and a course exploring the roles of queer and trans people of color in arts and activism.

Reflecting on their time in WRAC, Dr. Driskill says Dr. Malea Powell and the culture she helped to create in the graduate program was a big influence on how they approach their work. They describe this culture as “not thinking about our scholarship as isolated from our communities or isolated from making change… I think what really stands out about the program is the larger commitment to each other.”

Dr. Driskill notes that recent political events have made their combination of academic work and activism even more important. “I think that all of us really need to be intentional about building community with each other in ways that are specific and substantial,” they say. “Part of my work right now is to be centering back and really looking at specific and tangible ways to [serve] that commitment.”


Written for WRAC by Jay Hull