Olivia R. Polk is a Black femme living on territories of the Haliwa-Saponi, Sappony and Occaneechi Band of Saponi (Durham, NC). She is a PhD candidate in American Studies, African American Studies, and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She received her B.A. in Africana Studies (highest honors), Art History, and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies from Williams College in 2016. Her dissertation, “‘We Can Dream the Dark:’ Black Lesbianism and the Ethic of Black Queerness” foregrounds Black lesbianism as a social ethic articulated through literary and visual experimentalism, and political organizing modeled by Black lesbians in the late 20th century and adopted by other Black queer subjects throughout the same period. In addition to her research and teaching she is a member of the What Would an HIV Doula Do? collective (WWHIVDD), and serves as Student Councilor for the American Studies Association (2022-2025).
Olivia’s work has received support from the Center for the Study Race Indigeneity and Transnational Migration, and Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale, in addition to the NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.