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Terrance Wooten, doctoral candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the Department of American studies, was named one of the 20 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation fellows for 2016, funded by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The Charlotte W. Newcombe fellowship aims to promote scholarship that focuses on ethical and religious values. This prestigious program provides doctoral candidates with a 12-month award of $25,000 to support the final year of dissertation work. 

Wooten focuses on gender and queer studies, critical race and legal studies and critical homeless studies. His recent work, Wooten said, “examines the way the state constructs home through the management of sexual deviance.”

The Newcombe fellowship will enable Wooten to work on his dissertation project “Lurking in the Shadows of Home: Homelessness, Carcerality, and the Figure of the Sex Offender,” in which he examines the connection between sexuality and homelessness, placing a critical lens on the ways people’s relationship with housing is often reliant on their ability to be “moral sexual subjects.”

In his research, Wooten argues that U.S. housing policies integrate forms of sexual regulation. By examining shelter policies and floor plans, housing authority regulations, state and federal laws, documentaries, popular literature and discourse, and the everyday practices of service providers, Wooten aims to demonstrate how homeless services are grounded in the management of sexual deviance and organized around the figure of the sex offender—both real and imagined.

Wooten’s scholarship was forged by his own experience working as a homeless service provider in Montgomery County for the past five years. He says that his work helping clients find housing inspired him to think critically about the gaps of knowledge concerning homelessness, which he has noticed in literature, theory and even in his own research.

“I have been able to take knowledge produced in the classroom and take it to the terrain of homeless services,” Wooten said. “In doing so, I help push conversations about LGBT equity and the role of shelter policies as they pertain to policing people on the basis of sexual difference rather than helping support them.”

This summer, Wooten will teach an American studies course “Sex on the Streets: Homelessness, Deviance, and the Making of America's Underbelly," where his students will have the opportunity to examine different issues tied to homelessness and produce policy interventions that may help ongoing problems in the community.