Wendy Griffin was once a college dropout. At the end of her first semester at Northwestern University, back in the days when female students were locked in the dorm at 9 p.m., she made a rope ladder out of sheets and escaped out the window. She fled to New York to do Off Broadway, working with the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Mitch Ryan and Graham Jarvis. In between shows, she supported herself as a puppeteer, a “Beat” poet, and a diamond courier. After several seasons, she traveled with friends to Mexico and from there to Florence, Italy. But the wet Italian winters depressed her, so she strapped her guitar on the back of a motor scooter, and headed across the Alps to southern Spain. During the next decade, she married, had a daughter, worked as a folk singer in London, and traveled across Europe with her musician husband.
Ten years later, the ex-expatriate returned to the United States to find herself a single parent with a high school education and very limited labor market skills. She worked as a Spanish/English interpreter in Chicago and then branched out into folk and cabaret singing before moving to California. Here she sang in several clubs and got full-time work as a cocktail waitress and bartender. With time, she began to double as the Federal Women’s Program Coordinator for the El Toro Marine Corps Base. She resumed her long neglected formal education on a part-time basis through the California community college system. A scholarship from the American Association of University Women allowed her to reverse that balance and, as a full-time student, she transferred to the University of California at Irvine. There she received her BA Magna Cum Laude and then went on to graduate with a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary Social Sciences, with an emphasis on the sociology of sex and gender.
During graduate school, Professor Griffin published two historical novels, which she refers to as “subliminally subversive,” and was honored by the friends of the UCI Library for her literary accomplishments.
She taught in the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at CA. State University, Long Beach for 26 years and was presented with the award for Excellence in Teaching from the Friends of Women’s Studies in 1988, and from the College of Liberal Arts in 1993. During her last five years before retiring Professor Emerita, she served as Chair of the Department.
She is a longtime community activist, having served in leadership positions in California NOW, Orange County ERA, and Long Beach’s WomanShelter, among others, and has been honored with the highest award granted by the Women’s Network Alert, a coalition of several thousand Orange County Feminist Activists. As an expert on women’s issues, her interviews frequently appear in the broadcast and print media. Her work has been used in testimony before CA. Senate Judiciary Committee on Economic Equity.
Her articles that appear on this website have been published in noted academic journals and books on sociology, religion, and gender. She was the co-editor with Chas Clifton of the first academic series in pagan studies, by AltaMira Press, as well as the founding co-chair with Michael York of the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group for the American Academy of Religion.
Professor Griffin’s interest in spirituality and female representations is evident in her work as a performance artist and drummer, where she was able to integrate her earlier life in the arts with her academic one. The performance group which she founded was named Lipushau, after the first named drummer in history, and played at venues as diverse as Pagan Pride festivals and the Beverley Hills Women’s Club.
Unwilling to simply fade away into retirement, she accepted the position of Academic Dean at Cherry Hill Seminary which provides distance training in Pagan ministry. There she is using her academic expertise to help guide the Masters’ programs to accreditation.
In case you began reading this wondering why it was not a traditional academic C.V., you should now be able to guess the answer. Along with many other scholars today, Dean Griffin rejects the concept of absolute objectivity. She acknowledges that she is an embodied thinker and an embodied teacher who has lived an unconventional life. Who she is and where she has been contribute to shaping her classes and research.
As a friend once pointed out, there is no point in her attempting to present herself as traditional. Who she is just wells up and spills out.