Research

“Agents Online: Assessing Access to Transfer in Online Tutoring Initiatives”; 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication, Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Recent scholarship on transfer in the field of composition and rhetoric has focused largely on implications for writing classrooms (Reiff & Bawarshi 2011; Robertson, et al 2012; Donahue 2012; Wardle 2007, 2009). However, Rebecca Nowacek (2011) addresses implications of transfer research for writing centers, acknowledging the crucial role for tutors as mediators between students and instructors as they forge connections that lead to the transfer of writing-based knowledge. Speaker 3 will expand on the conversation opened in Nowacek’s work, extending the transfer discussion to include writing centers, recognizing their important place in composition studies writ large. She will investigate what it means for tutors to actively participate as “handlers” and “agents,” as both student guides and active connection-builders, when a tutoring initiative takes on a digital life. Speaker 3 will share data from her assessment of an online tutoring program, drawing on session feedback forms, student survey data, and chat session transcripts. She will explore the process of assessing the online initiative while staying attuned to the unrecognizable forms transfer sometimes takes. Implications for work in writing center assessment will be examined and will emphasize connections between transfer and writing center experiences.

“Breaking the Bonds of Marriage: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a Rhetoric of Embodiment, and Marriage Reform after Seneca Falls”; 2013 CUNY ESA Graduate Student Conference, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York

  • During the middle of the nineteenth century, early American women’s rights activists took on the issue of women’s property rights, recognizing the need for improvement in laws regarding women’s inheritances and wages earned during marriage, as well as for their ability to maintain custody of their children and the ease with which they could obtain a divorce. These concerns were taken up in the oratory of many well-known first-wave feminist figures such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. While Stanton is most frequently noted for her pieces focusing on temperance, abolition and, of course, suffrage, her entire argument for the advancement of women in American society depended upon the reformation of marriage, as previous scholarship has argued. We can see that the passion of her words comes from her desire for women to be equal not just in the eyes of the legal system, but within the boundaries of the relationships in which they find themselves.
    Stanton’s concern with the individual lives of the women she represented in her speeches is echoed in the images of the body that can be found in much of her work. It is this element, in part, that this presentation will explore, suggesting that Stanton’s explosive rhetoric, often quite shocking for her time, was one that frequently relied upon analogies, images, and allusions to physicality and material human bodies, particularly those of women oppressed by an unjust legal system. Stanton’s use of bodily imagery is noteworthy given that bodies were not a public topic, but rather private objects to be covered and protected, according to the Victorian doctrine of modesty. A woman speaking in a public forum was already something barely tolerable for Antebellum Americans; a woman speaking publicly about politics while referring to human bodies would have been an affront on audiences’ sensibilities (Campbell 14).
    This imagery, however, speaks to a deeper notion of embodiment that has been alluded to in previous scholarship of the commonly used rhetoric of the women’s rights movements of the time.  Women’s rights discourse often relied upon a “rights versus virtue” dichotomy, inadvertently creating a paradox that positioned, respectively, sex as biologically determined or ontologically centered. In addressing the need for marriage and divorce reform, Stanton most often employed the rights topos. However, as this presentation will argue, by focusing on the need for women to find power and independence outside of a marital contract, Stanton moves beyond the simple opposition of rights or virtue, and instead engages a rhetorical portrayal of bodies similar to that of Emma Goldman in Goldman’s work on free love. By making sexuality and the need for women to control their own bodies a central part of her discourse, and by consistently creating imagery of material bodies in her speeches, this presentation will show that Stanton creates a unique rhetoric of embodiment, one connecting a radical feminist movement – free love – to the more frequently utilized women’s rights discourse of the time.

“‘Women of Ability and Understanding’: The Farmer’s Wife, The American Country Life Association and the 1926 Farm Women’s Conference”; 2012 Conference on College Composition and Communication, St. Louis, Missouri

  • In 1926, the editors of The Farmer’s Wife, the only periodical of the time to cater exclusively to the needs of farm women, collaborated with the American Country Life Association in order to bring together a select group of farm women for a conference. The event, held in Chicago for three days in March, addressed the question, “What are farm women thinking about?” and was one of the predominant farm women’s conferences held in the early twentieth century. Echoing the broader concerns of Theodore Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission in 1908, the conference focused mainly on issues of rural education and the organization of agrarian communities. While the few published scholarly pieces on the periodical’s history have been thorough, they have neglected to include the important addition of the Chicago conference in the rhetorical history of the publication. Through close readings of issues of TFW in the years surrounding the conference and of the published conference pamphlet, The Farm Woman Answers the Question: What Do Farm Women Want?, this speaker will investigate the active role TFW played during the years surrounding the conference in the actual communities of the farm women who made up its readership, and will attempt to position it more clearly in the rhetorical history of periodicals of the time.

“Power Hungry: Food and Farm Women in A Thousand Acres and The Grapes of Wrath”; 2011 CUNY English Student Association Interdisciplinary Conference, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, New York

  • Although the women in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres are marginalized in their gendered roles as farm women,  their duties as caretakers of their families give them sources of alternative power. This power, located in the domestic sphere, is directly linked to the meals they provide for their families, as food is a dominant image throughout both texts. One might see similar cases reflected in the lives of American farm women of the past as they established themselves as integral parts of agrarian life despite a marginalized status in standard power structures. Though it is easy to think of the domestic duties of women as servile, one must look past the common perceptions of farm women in order to see that, within their gendered responsibilities, women were able to obtain great power within their families. In this paper, I will argue that although the women in Steinbeck’s and Smiley’s novels, like their historical counterparts, seem to take on inferior positions in their traditionally oriented lives, in actuality their gendered roles hold as much power as those of the males in the texts due to their culinary duties. This demonstrates that food plays a key part in the distribution of authority in agricultural settings. Adhering to the definition of female power found in Susan C. Rogers’ article, “female forms of power and the myth of male dominance,“ I will attempt to show how the women in these novels achieve a subversion of the ’repressed rural woman’ stereotype using food as their main tool for obtaining this alternative authority and developing unique domestic feminisms in each text.

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