Nikita Shepard /// PhD. Student /// Department of History

Nikita Shepard (they/them) explores histories of gender and sexuality, LGBTQ communities, social movements, data and surveillance, and radical politics in the twentieth century United States and beyond. Their research has engaged topics of queer youth culture and organizing, anarchism and homosexuality, analogies between sexuality and race and the origins of the minority model in the homophile (early gay and lesbian) movement, and the politics of data, surveillance, and privacy in the gay liberation movement. They have received research fellowships from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Texas A&M University, and the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History. As an oral history interviewer, they have founded projects on the Radical Faerie and LGBTQ communities of rural Tennessee and on the history of American anarchism, and have contributed interviews to the Rainbow Triangle Oral History Project (Durham, NC) and the Progressive Activists Oral History Project (Nashville, TN).

Here at Columbia, they serve as a graduate affiliate of the Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities, for which they developed a Research Guide describing over 150 archival collections in the Columbia University and Barnard College Library system relevant to the history of sexuality. They have also worked for the Lehman Center for American History, the Center for Spatial Research on their Mapping Historical New York City GIS project, and for the Columbia Oral History Archives. They founded and served as Graduate Director of the "Data, Algorithms, and Social Justice" working group at the Center for the Study of Social Difference from 2019-2021. They served as the LGBTQ+ Representative to the Graduate History Association for 2020-21, and are a proud member of the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC-UAW Local 2110).

Nikita brings a longstanding passion for teaching and pedagogy to their work at Columbia. They have served as a teaching assistant for courses including "US Lesbian and Gay History" with George Chauncey, "Introduction to Sexuality Studies" with Jack Halberstam, "Data: Past, Present, and Future" with Matthew Jones and Chris Wiggins, and "Technology and US Politics" with Alma Steingart. Committed to creating inclusive and anti-oppressive classrooms, they have participated in the Feminist Pedagogy course of Columbia's Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality and the Office for Academic Diversity and Inclusion's Pedagogies of Race and Oppression learning community. They serve as the History Department's 2021-22 Lead Teaching Fellow for Columbia's Center for Teaching and Learning, and are an advanced track participant in CTL's Teaching Development Program. They also hold a certificate from the Graduate Teaching Assistant Teaching Certificate Program at Middle Tennessee State University's Learning, Teaching, and Innovative Technologies Center.

Prospective students who would like to discuss the history PhD program here are warmly encouraged to reach out by email.

Photo credit: Chris Berntsen

Selected Publications