GWS Spotlight

Karen Flynn Faculty Spotlight

5/9/2017  8:00 am


The African-American Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her Ph.D. in Women's Studies from York University, Toronto, Ontario, in 2003. Her research interests include migration and travel, Black Canada, health, popular culture, feminist, Diasporic and post-colonial studies. Dr. Flynn’s book: Moving Beyond Borders: Black Canadian and Caribbean women in the African Canadian Diaspora published by University of Toronto won the Lavinia L. Dock Award from the American Association of the History of Nursing.  She is currently working on a second book project that maps the travel itineraries of young Black EFL teachers across borders. 

In addition to her scholarly publications, Dr. Flynn has published numerous editorials in Share, Canada's largest ethnic newspaper, which serves the Black & Caribbean communities in the Greater Metropolitan Toronto area. Dr. Flynn has had oped articles in Now Magazine, the Toronto Star, and  She was also a free-lance writer for Canada Extra, and most recently for where she wrote passionately about contemporary issues considering issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, age, and nation. Dr. Flynn was recently a Dean’s Fellow for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), a program geared towards strengthening and expanding the cadre of leaders in the College. In 2015, Dr. Flynn was selected as the Conrad Humanities Fellow for LAS for excellence in scholarship.

Finally, Dr. Flynn loves teaching, and cares deeply about her students. In response to a decade of students request an internship course, Dr. Flynn created the course, which was launched spring 2017, for the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. She also restructured her courses to include a community learning component, where students grapple with the relationship between theory and practice.

Classes being taught regularly at the University of Illinois:

GWS 201: Race, Gender and Power

GWS 363: Gender, Health and Popular Culture

GWS 498: Senior Capstone Seminar

GWS 337: Interrogating Masculinities  


Research Specialization:

Black Canada

History of Medicine


African Diasporic and post-colonial theorizing


Current research projects: 

In progress book length manuscript: Alternate Routes: The African Diaspora in the Pacific


To Air Nursing’s ‘Dirty’ Laundry: Gloria Clark Baylis and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

Mobility Matters: A Black/Caribbean Canadian in the Midwest


What drew you to the department of gender and women’s studies?

I actually have a PhD in Women’s Studies; the first Black woman in Canada to graduate from the program; it seemed like the perfect fit. It’s a great environment to work in!


Favorite places on campus

I know this is not what you expect, but my office! I have a futon; small refrigerator and a microwave.

The library.