Molly Merryman

Molly Merryman

Associate Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Office Hours:
By Appointment
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Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

vice president for the International Visual Sociology Association

Dr. Molly Merryman's New Documentary

Highland Lives, a documentary directed by Molly Merryman, aired on the UK-based cable program Tales from the Margins on January 8.  Highland Lives is a 30-minute documentary that combines interviews with archival photographs to share life stories of gay, lesbian and transgendered people who live in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.

The first phase of the project was a team-taught special topics LGBTQ Methods class offered in Spring 2013. Four faculty from LGBT Studies (Cara Gilgenbach (Head of Special Collections), Molly Merryman (Sociology), David Purcell (Sociology), and Lauren Vachon. In this course, six undergraduate students learned sociological approaches to understanding cities, ethnographic and oral history methods, and conducted filmed field interviews. The student researchers were: Caitlyn Dillehay, Ashley Gregg, Jessica Rogers, Abigail Rosh, Courtney Thaman, and Brian Wakely. 

Highland Lives premiered at the August 2014 international Gay Games, with video kiosk screenings at Flair Fest in downtown Akron and at the Game Change conference at the University of Akron. Clips and draft version have been shown at the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris and at academic meetings in Greece, the UK and the United States. For the final version, director Merryman was assisted by Kent State student (now graduate) Stefany Noling.

The Akron study was funded by the KSU College of Arts and Sciences' Collaborative Research Program. Additional support for the documentary Highland Lives was provided by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Sociology.

Red Umbrella Rights garners attention in the US and Europe:

  1. The Brighton-based UK Live-TV Tales from the Margin Extra is dedicating two weeks of programming to show Red Umbrella Rights and an interview with me. This airs all through the UK and is web-accessible throughout Europe.
  2. Red Umbrella Rights is screening at the NYC CineKink Film Festival, and depending on how that screening goes it may be selected for the touring show. CineKink started it 2003. It and the San Francisco Sex Worker Film Festival which screened the documentary at this past summer (2017) are highly regarded festivals that welcome sex workers.
  3. NY MOMA invited Dr Merryman to create a short version of Red Umbrella Rights for its Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance on March 4, 2018. She is attending that and combining it with an invited screening of the full version of Red Umbrella Rights at Sarah Lawrence College. 

Video Documentaries:

  • “Red Umbrella Rights,” director, executive producer, camera and editor, (2017), 58 min.
  • "Highland Lives," director, executive producer, camera and editor, (2014), 28 min.
  • "Country Crush," director, executive producer, editor, director of photography, camera and sound, (2009), 58 min.
  • "Invisible Struggles: Stories of Northern Segregation," director, executive producer, camera and editor, (2006), 52 min.
  • "Women Who Flew," co-director, co-producer, and co-editor with Tom Baumann, (1994), 10 min. -
  • "Queens of Columbus: Performance and the art of Illusion," Writer, co-director, off-line editor, and co-producer with Tom Baumann and Andy Gardner, (1992), 30 min.


Research and Teaching Interests

  • Documentary
  • Visual Sociology
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • LGBTQ Studies
  • Women’s Studies
  • Ethnographic Film
  • Public Sociology

Dr. Merryman was recently invited by Goldsmiths, University of London to present a master class on her documentary research methodology for the University’s new MA in Queer History on December 4, 2017.





Ph.D., Bowling Green State University, 1995. American Culture Studies., M.A., The Ohio State University, 1988. Journalism-Public Relations., B.A., Ashland University, 1985. Creative Writing, English and Psychology.


Documentary, Visual Sociology, Gender and Sexuality, LGBTQ Studies, Women’s Studies, Ethnographic Film, Public Sociology, LGBTQ education in the UK, Sappho/women's arts in Lesvos, global LGBTQ rights, international screenings of documentaries, Inequalities (class/gender/race/ethnicity)


  • “Nadezhda Popova: Hero of the Soviet Union,” in Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females, exhibit book edited by Linda Stein, Foreword by Gloria Steinem, Old City Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 2016.
  • “Queering the Academy: A Case Approach to LGBTQ Studies,” with K. G. Valente, in Expanding the Circle: the LGBTQ University, John Hawley, ed., SUNY Press, 2015.
  • “Invisible Struggles: A Civil Rights Project Impacts Classroom and Community,” with Kenneth J. Bindas, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Vol. 12, No. 3 (2008).
  • "Out of the Shadows: Informal Segregation in Warren, Ohio, 1954-1964," With Kenneth J. Bindas, northeast Ohio Journal of History (Spring 2006).
  • “Documenting Prejudice: Using Video to Reveal Hidden Truths,” in Freedom and Prejudice: Approaches to Media and Culture, Süheyla Kirca Schroeder and LuEtt Hanson, Eds, Istanbul, Turkey: Bahçesehir University Press (2008), pp. 223-229.
  • Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) of World War II, New York: New York University Press (1997; paperback 2001);