At CCCC in Chicago I had the pleasure of announcing the winner and honorable mentions for the 2022 Presidents Dissertation Award, and I am thrilled to share the good news here with those of you who were not able to attend in person.
The winner of the 2022 award is Dr. Katie Bramlett, currently Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at California State University, East Bay. Bramlett completed her dissertation, “Genres of Memory and Asian/American Activism,” at the University of Maryland.
In the dissertation, Bramlett deconstructs the narrative layers of Asian and Asian American history—narratives mediated by colonialism, anti-Asian rhetoric, patriarchy, and activism—through in-depth analyses of specific activism. This intersectional and decolonial approach complicates traditional stereotypes and brings to light the activism surrounding three genres commemorating Asian and Asian American women. Bramlett explains
One judge characterizes the dissertation as a model for scholarship: “Bramlett’s analysis of past activism provides a model for how we, as a field, can look at resistance to biocapital, racial violence across contexts contemporarily.”
Another judge concurs, adding, “This work engages many forms of rhetoric and invites us to expand how we think about memory and feminist rhetorics. It also engages in historical research in a fresh way that connects it to our current political atmosphere.”
The selection committee also identified two honorable mentions from among the many entries received. Honorable mentions went to Dr. Danielle Griffin, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Teaching of Writing at the University of Delaware, for her dissertation “Working Literacies: Gender, Labor, and Literacy in Early Modern England,” which was completed at the University of Maryland, and to Dr. Melissa Marie Stone, Assistant Professor of English at Appalachian State University, for her dissertation “Rhetorics of Menstruation: Mattering Menstrual Healthcare Technologies,” which was completed at North Carolina State University.
Griffin explores the literacy abilities and practices of early modern working women, paying attention to the ways that ideologies of patriarchy and labor, as well as the institutionalization of poor relief, mediated their engagements with literacy. Analyzing the often-overlooked literacy artifacts of economically disadvantaged groups, Griffin deftly explains how that evidence sheds light on the literacy of working women of the time period at different points in their lives. This work illuminates the complex ideological interconnections of gender, labor, and literacy to energize conversations about women and labor as well as histories of literacy and rhetorical education.
One judge notes the strength of the dissertation and offers this assessment: “From the Literature Review to the Conclusion, this dissertation provides readers with a superbly close analysis of a group marginalized by history. Uncovering the literacy practices of these multifaceted early modern women is a key goal of the Coalition.”
In “Rhetorics of Menstruation: Mattering Menstrual Healthcare Technologies,” Stone identifies the difficult material-discursive circumstances communities face in their interactions with menstruation. By applying material feminist approaches to analyze the rhetorical implications of material arrangements that include menstruating bodies, reproductive health discourses, menstrual healthcare technologies, and their ersatz technical instructions, Stone advances the call for more scholarship in material feminist rhetorics and social justice. Technologies associated with menstruation have historically followed a hegemonic patriarchal bias advocating efficiency and invisibility concerning women’s health care needs. Stone’s dissertation project provides astute insight into the importance of menstrual healthcare and more inclusive technological designs and instructional compositions at a time when period poverty is beginning to be taken seriously by some governments and industries.
One judge provides the following praise for this dissertation: “This work is long overdue and comes at a time when activists are finally getting governments to take women’s health care concerns more seriously. It’s a solidly feminist approach and an important topic in light of moves towards establishing ‘Menstruation Czars’ and advocating ‘Period Poverty Policies’ that many vulnerable individuals need.”
Congratulations to Danielle and Melissa!
In closing, I want to offer my sincere thanks to the 2022 Presidents Dissertation Award Committee: Ashley Canter Meredith, Sarah Hallenbeck, Maureen Johnson, Emily January Petersen, and Aaron A. Toscano (Chair). This group dedicated a lot of time to reading and discussing many excellent submissions. Your work on behalf of feminist scholars is greatly appreciated!
Wendy Sharer, Immediate Past President and Awards Coordinator