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Audre Geraldine Lorde was the third child of Linda Belmar and Frederic Lorde born on February 18, 1943. Born Audrey, she dropped the "y" from her name while still a child, explaining in Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, that she was attracted to the symmetry of the "e" at the end of each name.  Influenced by her mother's love for words and storytelling, Lorde was drawn to poetry and language from a young age. Her schooling began at a Catholic grammar school where she experienced racism and hostility. It was during this time that Lorde first began to develop her literary voice; as a teen she was an active contributor to her school arts magazine and published her first poem in Seventeen magazine. Lorde attended Hunter College (1954-1959) studying Library Science and went on to earn a Master's degree in that subject from Columbia University in 1961. There she met Edwin Ashley Rollins, an attorney, whom she married in 1962. Lorde and Rollins wedding reception took place at Roosevelt House. The couple had two children, Elizabeth and Jonathan; they divorced in 1970. In 1968, Lorde was a writer in residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi where she met Frances Clayton, a professor of psychology, who was her partner until 1989.

Mina Shaughnessy, former director of City College's SEEK Program (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) offered Lorde her first position at CUNY. From there, she went to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1970 where she fought to build a significant Black Studies program. In 1981, she accepted the Distinguished Thomas Hunter Chair offered by Donna Shalala, then Hunter College's president, where she taught until 1986. Lorde also taught in the Department of English; today an annual prize for undergraduate excellence in poetry and prose is named in her honor. Lorde was a mentor at the Audre Lorde Women's Poetry Center, housed at Roosevelt House in the 1980s-90s prior to its renovation.

In 1980, together with Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga, she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in order to call attention and make available work by women of color. As a prolific poet, talented teacher and artist, and well known activist, Lorde has been acclaimed as a central figure in the feminist movement. In 1991-92, Lorde was the State Poet of New York.

In the late 1970s, Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy; she died on November 17, 1992 ofliver cancer in St. Croix where she was living with Gloria Joseph. In her own words, she was a "black, lesbian, feminist, mother, warrior, poet"; Lorde's life and career was characterized by her hopeful efforts to establish a better humanity through her teaching, activism, poetry and prose.

This biography is compiled from a number of sources, from entries found at "e-notes",, and from Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching and Learning as well as Clare Coss and Blanch Wiesen Cook's entry in Notable American Women. Special thanks to Thorn in the Department of English for providing some details about Lorde's time teaching at Hunter.



Daniel G. Simmonds, III



Students who wish to take either WGS 298 or WGS 320, please read this information carefully. For those students interested in doing an internship, there are two options the program offers:

In order to apply for an internship, you must have a resume and a cover letter ready. You must begin the process of applying for an internship well BEFORE the semester you are going to take the internship, so that by the time the semester starts you are interning at a place of your choice.

Prerequisites: WGS 100 and WGS 201 and at least one other WGS course at the 200 level or higher. If you don't have these prerequisites, please email the Program Chairperson,  Catherine Raissiguier.


Internship Seminar

WGS 320 is the senior seminar option for students. All WGS majors must take one senior seminar: either the Internship Seminar (offered only in the fall semester) or the Research Seminar (offered only in the spring semester).

WGS 320 is only taught in the Fall Semester. Planning for the seminar begins in the summer. All students who wish to register for the seminar must attend a meeting with Stephanie St. Pierre in the summer. Please note: Failure to attend this meeting will prohibit you from registering for the class and will delay your graduation.

You may register for either:

  • 3 credits, which includes 6 hours of internship and a 1 hour weekly seminar
  • 4 credits, which includes 9 hours of internship and a 1 hour weekly seminar

The internship consists of two parts: either 6 or 9 hours per week with an organization and a 1 hour weekly seminar. You will be required to attend the weekly seminar to discuss the internship experience. Additionally, there will be weekly reading assignments on feminist organizations and activism. You will be required to submit a mid-term internship report and a 15-20 page paper at the end of the semester.

For permission to register for WGS 320, please email Jennifer Gaboury.


Independent Internship

WGS 298 is an ELECTIVE.  This is NOT a substitute for the senior seminar requirement.

WGS 298 can be 1-6 credits. The student must get permission from a faculty sponsor prior to beginning the internship. Student must fill out the Independent Research and Internship Form and the form must be signed by the professor. 

The student should have taken at least one course in the sub-field of the internship, preferably with the faculty sponsor, before receiving permission to start the internship. Our normal guideline of three hours' work per week for each academic credit ought to apply. This should include time spent in research and writing as well as time spent interning.

Students should be expected to write a substantial paper. The topic should be chosen in consultation with the faculty member and should in some fashion demonstrate that the student has applied the academic literature to the internship experience (and vice-versa.) The student should keep a diary of the internship experience and submit to the faculty sponsor.

The faculty sponsor should check in with the student's on-site supervisor to obtain reports and evaluations of the student's work. It is preferred that only full-time faculty should supervise internships because part-time faculty do not get paid to do so.

Please Note: You must be enrolled in an internship in the same semester that you register for it. Internship credits cannot be given for an internship done in the past. For example, you cannot register for an internship in the fall, for an internship done over the summer.

For permission to register for WGS 298, please email Catherine Raissiguier.


Suggested Internship Organizations

The Barnard Center for Research on Women proudly announces the publication of the Guide to New York City Women's and Social Justice Organizations to help put you in touch with the artists, activists and organizations whose work is most crucial to you.

The following is a list of organizations where students have interned in the past as well as organizations who have contacted the Women and Gender Studies Program seeking interns. We also encourage students to seek internships in organizations not on this list.

Casa Atabex Ache (Anchor Organization)

Women's Sports Foundation

Safe Horizon

Youth Speaks C/O Teachers and Writers Collaborative

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Gender Equity Project, Hunter College

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Women of Color Health Organizations and Resources




World Can't Wait


The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, located at CUNY's Graduate Center, is currently looking for (unpaid) interns who would like to work for college credit for 10-15 hours per week.

If you're a senior (in your last two semesters of study) who considered taking the senior internship seminar but who did not yet arrange a place to work, this might be an opportunity for you.

If you're interested in a CLAGS internship, contact Jennifer Gaboury who will pass along interest to the appropriate staff person. Please include a copy of your resume/CV and reply to rather than the WGS majors list.

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