Janet Bennion, Ph.D.

Professor, Explorations

A self-avowed feminist, Janet Bennion finds herself captivated by Vermont women, whom she has come to appreciate since her recent move to Lyndon. “I love women who survive, and so I can’t help but love Vermont women, who are tenacious and feisty,” she says.

The strength exhibited by women in often compromising lifestyles is the subject of much of Dr. Bennion’s research and is interwoven frequently into her teaching. Raised in the Mormon culture, she developed an interest in gender dynamics and in the patriarchal lifestyle that was common to her ancestors, and became determined to learn how women survive in a lifestyle rooted in polygamy. “What I found was that women tend to band together in that type of society, and that many strong, admirable women emerge as leaders who do remarkable things.” Those findings have become the subject of two books that Dr. Bennion has published on women’s lives in polygamous societies.

Although she has taught in university settings, she welcomes the opportunity to share her expertise and experience with the small classes that Lyndon offers.

“Large classes are stifling; I do much better with smaller groups of students who can really interact,” she says. “How can you touch the lives of students when they’re just numbers and not names?”


  • Nationally-recognized scholar on polygamy
  • Fundamentalist polygynous societies
  • Sexuality and marriage and nontraditional religions
  • Sociology and anthropology theory and methods
  • Gender analysis
  • East Africa, Native America, Mexico: alternative sexuality and nontraditional marriage forms, polygyny, gender and myth, magic and religion

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