Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Ph.D. is an author, activist and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and English at Vanderbilt University. In 2008 Professor Pierce-Baker was selected as a “Fellow” in the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities to study in the area of trauma. During 2008-2009 she served as Interim Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt.
Professor Pierce-Baker’s groundbreaking first book, "Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape" (W.W. Norton, 1998), provides a forum for the heretofore-muted voices of African American women surviving the trauma of sexual violence. Praised by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison as “A book of such intelligent humanity its shocks strengthen us, and its terrors enlighten us,” "Surviving the Silence" challenges public stereotypes and private secrecy, while honoring and understanding those who choose to remain silent. Professor Pierce-Baker is a founding member of The Voices and Faces Project, a national documentary initiative that seeks to bring the stories of sexual violence survivors to the attention of the public. Through her work with The Voices and Faces Project – and through her own testimony – Charlotte speaks truth to both power and perpetrator, calling the culture to action.
Professor Pierce-Baker has served on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania, Delaware University, and Duke University, and has published essays and commentary on literature and pedagogy in a variety of journals and periodicals. She has been an active volunteer with victim-survivor services at Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) in Philadelphia. While at Duke University, where she was a Full Research Professor in Women’s Studies and English, Professor Pierce-Baker participated in activities of the Women’s Center and served as liaison between the Center and the Women’s Studies Program. Her teaching continues in the areas of Contemporary African American Women Writers; Applied Linguistics, and newly designed courses in the area of Gender, Trauma and Violence. Three of her courses at Duke became popular in the undergraduate curriculum offerings: Feminisms in Black and White, Black Language and Culture, and Women Writing Trauma.
Since the publication of "Surviving the Silence," Professor Pierce-Baker has continued to travel and lecture on issues of black women and sexual assault. She has taken the topic of rape into the classroom with her course on women and trauma. Finding and creating a language is, for her, the first step in acknowledging and documenting the “colonization of the body of woman." Professor Pierce-Baker has been honored for her book, her dedication, and taking her work into the classroom: The Rainbow Sisters Project – a feminist, multi-racial advocacy organization based in Los Angeles, presented her with a “Voice Award” in 1998. The Women’s Centers at Duke and at Vanderbilt honored her with the “Vagina Warrior Award” for her activist work and celebration of women.
Her manuscript in progress, "No Sunshine When He’s Gone," is a memoir about family and bipolar disorder. She resides in Nashville with her husband who is also on faculty at Vanderbilt.