Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

English

Date of Defense

4-15-2016

Graduate Advisor

Lauren Obermark

Committee

Lauren Obermark

Suellynn Duffey

Steven Schreiner

Abstract

The two chapters that make up this thesis are culmination of my master’s degree work. While I know this is the point of a thesis, I feel like this project is exceptionally representative of all of the directions my thinking has gone in the last few years. Most predominantly, my work has caused a major rift in how I think about English Studies. On one hand, I am a literature person — I have a certain attachment to literary analysis. It is where I hit my stride and decided to take the path to a doctoral degree. On the other hand, though, I found myself questioning what the point is. I wanted to be an Emily Dickinson scholar… But do we need another one? And, if so, what is the purpose? This project attempts to show how I see literary scholarship, feminist and disability theories, and composition pedagogy as intersecting. While the two chapters that make up this project are incredibly different — they were written differently, they read differently, the first chapter is all about a poet, and the second chapter is all about students — what unites the whole project is the fact that it is actually about me. It’s about me coming to understand English studies in new and dynamic ways. I don’t have to follow the rule that one must choose either the path of isolated literary scholarship or the path of being a writing teacher and researcher…yet. Even though I had planned on being a literary scholar, those plans shifted as I got further into my graduate work. And I had to be and am OK with it. I had to be comfortable with the discomfort and the chaos that graduate work introduced me to. The first chapter integrates feminist rhetorical theory into an analysis of contemporary American poet Susan Howe. The second chapter is a study of my first-year writing course in which I integrated disability studies and feminist theories in both course content and pedagogical practice.

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