The 2016 and 2017 Coalition Award Recipients

As our coalition expands, we are delighted that the number of our awards have also expanded to celebrate the outstanding work of our members at all stages of their careers. Join us as we celebrate the winners recognized the 2017 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference. Additionally, we hope that you will consider nominating yourself or someone you know for our upcoming awards: the Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award and the Feminist Research Grant

The Nan Johnson Outstanding Graduate Student Award

The Nan Johnson Outstanding Graduate Student Award is presented biennially in odd years to graduate students working in the field of composition and rhetoric to recognize outstanding scholarship and research in the areas of feminist pedagogy, practice, history, and theory. The award is designed to assist students who would like to attend the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference by providing $200.00 travel stipends and conference registration. This year we received 14 applications and are able to give 5 awards. (In previous years we have made only one award per conference.) This increase is due to Nan Johnson‘s generosity as an individual and as a mentor whose example a number of donors wished to honor thereby making this year’s awards possible.

The selection committee included Mare Grohowski (chair), Patty Wilde, and Tara Wood. This year’s recipients include:

Presidents Dissertation Awards

Presidents Dissertation Awards: This is the first time we have the pleasure of giving out the Presidents Dissertation Award. We’ll be giving out this award for the first times, since we’ll be announcing the recipients of both the 2016 and 2017 awards. All told, we had 30 nominees, whose work was read by 2 lucky committees. 2016 dissertations were read by a committee that included Cheryl Glenn (Chair), Beth Britt, Letizia Guglielmo, Tara Pauliny, and Pam VanHaitsma. 2017 dissertations were read by a committee that included Lynée Gaillet (chair), Risa Applegarth, Rebekah Buchanan, Patti Hanlon-Baker, and Liz Kimball.

The 2016 Presidents Dissertation Award goes to Gracemarie Mike Fillanwerth for her dissertation, Rhetoric and Feminism in the Americanization Era: The YWCA’s Rhetorical Education Program for Immigrant Women. Grace earned her dissertation at Purdue University, where her committee included Jenny Bay (Chair), Pat Sullivan, Tony Silva, and Janet Alsup.

As the selection committee commented, 

Mike’s dissertation proved to be beautifully aligned with the criteria for selection. Rhetoric and Feminism in the Americanization Era is overtly feminist as well as rhetorical, a beautifully researched and written spatial approach to historiography. Throughout, Mike maintains a steady focus on a community-based (YWCA) program dedicated to immigrant women, offers a rigorous literature review, clearly explains her methods and methodologies, grounds her project in current scholarship, articulates her positionality, provides practical applications to WPA work and rhetorical education, and explicitly discusses implications for our scholarship, teaching, and administrative praxes. In other words, she has produced the kind of dissertation that the Coalition wants to celebrate with this inaugural award! Many, many congratulations.

The dissertation abstract explains:

This dissertation examines the Young Women’s Christian Association’s International Institute movement from an administrative perspective. Founded in the United States during the Americanization Era of the early 20th century, the International Institute movement developed programs and services for immigrant women. One of the most prominent, and least examined, aspects of the movement was its work in the area of rhetorical education for non-English speaking immigrant women. Using a feminist, administrative historiographic methodology, this project positions the work of the International Institute’s administrators ecologically among other Americanization efforts taking place in this time period. Arguing that the International Institute movement positioned itself differently in relationship to immigrants, this dissertation explores this positioning in depth through archival research. Most specifically, it focuses on the aspects of program construction, pedagogy, and activism, showing how each of these areas of the International Institute movement’s administration was informed by a feminist, ecological, rhetorical administrative philosophy. This project concludes by describing the implications of this movement on the work of writing program administrators and all those who work in rhetorical administration today.

The 2017 Presidents Dissertation Award goes to Jessica Ouellette for her dissertation, Enduring Affective Rhetorics: Transnational Feminist Action in Digital Spaces.  Jessica earned her dissertation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where her committee included Donna LeCout (Chair), Anne Herrington, Rebecca Dingo, and Svati Shah.

As the selection committee commented, “Enduring Affective Rhetorics is marked by its ambitious scope and compelling writing.” They elaborated:  

Its interventions into important conversations in the field, especially our collective engagement with affect theory and transnational rhetoric, make it particularly timely and important. Ouellette examines extensively one instance of rhetorical actions by a woman in Tunisia. She argues that the transnational turn in rhet/comp has only been about seeing the need to analyze beyond the boundaries of the nation (ie US), but that we still really haven’t done so, and that we certainly haven’t theorized how to actually intervene as rhetors. She has a clear set of research questions and methodologies, and her final chapter proposes specific ways that rhetorical scholars can intervene in digital activism, by attending to the rhetors themselves as agents, and also to the forms of circulation.

The dissertation abstract explains:

This dissertation raises questions about the possible efficacy of digital spaces as sites for transnational feminist action and engagement. Using a qualitative approach, I analyze a case study involving the digital circulation of texts that arose from activist Amina Tyler’s decision to post a nude photo with controversial, provocative language sprawled across her chest. The circulation of this image by feminist groups such as FEMEN and Muslim Women Against Femen, as well as the mass media, led to global conversations about women’s roles and rights, definitions of feminism, and statements about the body. In employing a transnational feminist rhetorical analysis of these texts, I investigate how certain claims and arguments, undergirded by emotional and embodied charges, get repurposed through the process of circulation, and how these moments of “repurposing” operate as forms of rhetorical action in their reinforcement of and/or resistance to discourses of globalization and geopolitics. For example, Tyler’s original image, as it circulated, launched a collective movement when FEMEN encouraged their members to post a similar image in support of a “Topless Jihad Day”; FEMEN’s circulation of these texts then prompted Muslim Women Against Femen (MWAF) to recirculate FEMEN’s images as an attack on women’s rights, race, and religion; the mass media then circulated Tyler, FEMEN, and MWAF’s texts in order to repurpose Tyler and MWAF as globalized images of oppressed women, invoking images of Muslim nations as oppressors, and thus furthering terrorist fear-mongering. 

My findings indicate that the web’s ability to provide texts with enhanced amplification, velocity and endurance such that certain rhetorics become privileged over others points to the need for a new theory of rhetorical production. The implications of this study, that is, emphasize the ways in which digital circulation involves an affective element that necessarily determines the boundaries of rhetorical action—what is possible and what is foreclosed. I argue that scholars in both rhetorical studies and feminist studies need to look at affective circulation in the digital from a transnational feminist perspective so that we can, (1) better understand how feminist rhetorical action, or any kind of rhetorical action for that matter, works within a globalized system such as the web, and (2) learn how to leverage affective circulation toward a more productive rhetorical efficacy.

The Lisa Ede Mentoring Award

The Lisa Ede Mentoring Award was established 3 years ago, and the award itself was given for the first time—to Cheryl Glenn—at FemRhet 2015 in Arizona. This year a total of 112 people wrote on behalf of 14 nominees, providing eloquent—and copious—testimony to the prominence of mentoring in our field as well as the terrific difference each nominee has made to their students and colleagues—and to all of us.

Perhaps needless to say, the selection committee had compelling reading and tough choices to make. That group included included Trish Fancher (co-chair), Staci Perryman-Clark (co-chair), Dawn Armfield, Alexis McGee, and Tara Pauliny.

This year’s recipient is Kris Blair. Her nominators spoke volumes in their letters about the contribution Kris has made to our field as a feminist mentor. As many of us know, and as they eloquently explained: Blair’s signature “approach to teaching and mentoring is informed by the values of cooperation, collaboration, and community-building.” That is to say, she continuously provides “an intentional and embodied counterbalance to patriarchal and colonial values of competition and individualism” that are all too prevalent in higher education. It follows that every classroom she enters becomes what former students and colleagues describe as “a place for learning as a playful, experimental activity.” In particular, they noted “the space [you] created for failure . . . where most deep learning often seems to dwell[,] was incredible.” 

Your nominators also called attention to the mentorship Blair’s scholarship and editorial work provides. They wrote: “The paths cleared by these texts . . . have allowed for at least three new generations of scholars” in both computers and composition and the larger discipline of rhetoric and composition/writing studies to “find a place to stand and to work.” In sum, this award recognizes Kris Blair as someone who has served for more than two decades “as a model for established and emerging scholars alike on how to do ethical, careful, collaborative, and community-based” feminist work in our field.