Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies

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    “Were you silent or were you silenced?”: Interrogating contemporary representations of black women in the British monarchy and royal court
    (Dec-23) Oyee-Willingham, Rikki 1995-; West, Genevieve; Sahlin, Claire L.; Abunasser, Rima; Smith, Gabrielle
    This study investigates the representation of Black British women of the royal institution historically and in the present and the effects of these representations on the ways Black women are perceived. It also explores the ways Black women royals have responded to these representations. The study analyzes the mediated messages crafted by the British press as they focus on three royal women: Queen Charlotte (1761-1818), Marchioness Emma Thynn (2013- 2019), and Duchess Meghan Markle (2018-present). Using an intersectional media analysis, historical artifacts, modern retellings of history, and various articles published in the UK in both mainstream and tabloid press during the years listed, this dissertation scrutinizes coded messaging and language that frames and categorizes these women as tropes and schemas. The research includes reviews of the history of stereotypes and schemas used as an erasure strategy against Black women, as well as the impact that media has on perceptions of Black women. The findings of this analysis indicate that the misogynoir tactics of whitewashing and overshadowing the experiences of these women shed light on the ways that the British monarchy has transformed their racist ideologies to meet modern expectations. Due to these tactics, Thynn and Markle have adapted strategies of Black feminist activism and resistance to reclaim their stories and reshape how Black women are represented.
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    Jawaharlal Nehru's rhetoric of diversity and inclusion
    (Dec-23) Joshi, Giribala 1965-; Dr. Brian Fehler; Dr. Dundee Lackey; Dr. Ashley Bender
    Jawaharlal Nehru was a leading figure in India’s freedom struggle, who subsequently served as the first prime minister of independent India. Besides being a popular leader and a statesman, he was also a philosopher and a historian. Through his rhetoric and actions, Nehru strengthened the unity of India when the British left it as a collection of several principalities. He strongly advocated for scientific advancement while staying rooted in the progressive values of ancient Indian civilization. He laid the foundation of a secular democracy where all people had equal rights and freedom of worship. In the following study, I analyze Nehru’s writings and selected speeches through rhetorical criticism. Rhetorical criticism of public address as a discipline has a long history in the US and Europe. While it is an established field in the West, there are only a few rhetorical studies on Indian texts. The analysis of Nehru’s texts fulfills a gap in the field of world rhetorics, throwing light on the history of India’s culture, philosophy, language, and rhetoric. The methods in the field of rhetorical criticism have evolved from strictly following Aristotle’s theories to critical pluralism. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell writes that “any critical procedure applied rigidly as a method becomes… reductive and formulary (101). While traditionally rhetoric is defined as an art of persuasion, in the context of comparative rhetoric, Keith Lloyd defines it as the “shaping of What and How” (ch. 1). Following this definition, my research questions are: What are important messages in Nehru’s speeches and how they are formulated? How can Nehru be read as both an eminently Indian and cosmopolitan rhetor and thinker? Besides these questions, I also explore Nehru’s influence in India and around the world, and why Nehru is still relevant. While highlighting Nehru’s messages and rhetorical strategies, this criticism also sheds light on why Nehru attracted the masses as opposed to contemporary liberal leaders who turn away a significant number of people from reason and logic into a world of conspiracy theories and propaganda of reactionary and divisive forces.
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    Afro dialogues: Unearthing the meanings and significance in what women of African descent say about their hair
    (Aug-23) Akinbode, Foluso A. Oluade; Keating, AnaLouise; Smith, Gabrielle; West, Genevieve
    Hair can be a factor in liberation and oppression. There are Black women that have used their hair to subvert societal standards that center the straight, smooth, or silky hair associated with whiteness. Also, some Black women continue to grapple with a desire to fulfill white supremacist hair expectations. There is current research that delves into ways that Black women are navigating white supremacist characterizations of their hair, but there is a need for research that holistically captures Black women’s hair perspectives during the burgeoning of global online Black hair communities and conversations. Thus, the purpose of this study is to analyze and historicize Black women’s nuanced hair perspectives. The research questions guiding this study are what are some ways Black women perceive or make meaning of their hair, and how are their perceptions shaped by the current boom in online Black hair information? I employed phenomenology and intersectionality to guide 30 in-depth semi-structured interviews with 15 participants. Participants (Black women currently living in the United States) shared their perceptions of how white supremacist hair expectations are enforced through understandings of hair maintenance, categorizations of “good” and “bad” hair, the Andre Walker hair-typing system, and hair trauma or discomfort. Participants also shared perspectives about their identities, cultures, hair education, and empowerment that work against the use of Black hair in oppression. This study brings attention to the ways that Black women currently navigate and overcome white supremacist hair ideals and encourages further research on ways to recognize and undo oppressive hair ideals.
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    Teaching digital-multimodal composition for digital-born students: Exploring pedagogical applications of interactive narrative media
    (Aug-23) Won, Daehyun; Busl, Gretchen; Lackey, Dundee; Fehler, Brian
    Digital-immigrant rhetoric and composition instructors bear a heavy burden of teaching digital-born students who have an intrinsic potential to be fluent in digital-multimodal texts but require philosophical and technology-driven pedagogical interventions to build digital literacy skills and rhetorical proficiency with multimodal texts. In today’s educational landscape, which is constantly changing due to digital technology, applying all-inclusive and interdisciplinary narrative theories – which have invariable communicative and pedagogical value – is the most suitable solution for digital-immigrant instructors. But despite narrative’s immense educational potential, in the English discipline, there is a long-standing devaluation of narrative, exemplified by the dominant utilitarian tendency found in both literature and rhetoric and composition courses. In this complex educational environment, interactive narrative – a descendant of traditional narrative – is a tool that can be applied 1) to teach students how to navigate new media technology with creative and critical thinking skills and understand how rhetorical meaning can be created and delivered, 2) to give digital-born students a wider perception of the physically explorable or even unexplorable world through interactive and immersive participation, and 3) to enlighten both digital-immigrant instructors as well as digital-born students about using their voices effectively in public rhetorical spheres by exercising the maximized agency that interactive narrative provides. Validating the educational value of interactive narrative, this dissertation argues interactive narrative needs to be integrated into current multimodal composition courses, acting as a convergent “lens” to shed light on the pedagogical value of a unified liberal arts education in the lightning-fast digital revolution and to build a narratological bridge between multimodal media technology, digital immigrant teachers, and digital-born students.
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    A critical discourse analysis of Mexican cooking devoted to American homes by Josefina Velazquez de Leon and my Mexico by Diana Kennedy
    (Aug-23) Haynes, Jacqui Denise 1981-; Lackey, Dundee; Busl, Gretchen; Fehler, Brian
    This Ph.D. dissertation employs a critical discourse analysis approach, backed by cultural rhetorics, to evaluate the significance of Mexico's Indigenous people speaking for themselves in discussions surrounding cultural survivance through Indigenous foods and cookbooks. I apply Norman Fairclough's three-dimensional model to My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey of More Than 300 Recipes by Diana Kennedy and Mexican Cookbook Devoted to American Homes by Josefina Velazquez de Leon, to identify instances of language that demonstrate resistance and survivance, as well as appropriation, in the recovery and representation of Indigenous people's works. This dissertation challenges the widely held belief that Diana Kennedy is the foremost expert on Mexican cuisine by examining introductions, recipes, and interviews by and about both women and documenting language use which counters the preservation and representation of Mexico's Indigenous culture. In doing so, I reiterate that it is Josefina Velazquez de Leon who extensively researched and documented Mexican food before Kennedy and deserves recognition as the pioneer who preserved and represented Mexico and Mexico's Indigenous foods through cookbooks. Despite her significant contributions, Velazquez de Leon remains relatively unknown outside of Mexico, and the lack of visibility and acknowledgment of her work contributes to the erasure of Indigenous people's voices from the conversations about Indigenous foods. By examining the difference between Indigenous people speaking for themselves through their food and cookbooks, compared to an outsider sharing observations of Indigenous people's storied recipes, this research seeks to contribute to ongoing debates about cultural preservation, representation, and agency in Mexico's diverse cultural landscape. The findings of this study will help to shed light on the importance of amplifying the voices of Mexico Indigenous people in discussions surrounding their cultural heritage and reveal how the latter's contributions to the field of Mexican cuisine have been largely overlooked by the mainstream media and food industry.
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    Conversations with ancestors: A theoretical analysis and interpretive application of Gloria Anzaldúa’s theory of la facultad
    (2023-05-01T05:00:00.000Z) CAMP, JESSICA RAE 1979-; Keating, AnaLouise; Sahlin, Claire L.; Fehler , Brian
    Conversations with Ancestors: A Theoretical Analysis and Interpretive Application of Gloria Anzaldúa’s Theory of La Facultad” is an archival analysis and theoretical application of Chicana queer feminist Gloria Anzaldúa’s lesser-known theory of la facultad. While Anzaldúa is heralded for her groundbreaking book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, her theory of la facultad is one of the less frequently studied theories within the book. This project seeks to deeply engage with Anzaldúa’s theory of la facultad in order to more fully understand her epistemology. By following the drafting and publication of Borderlands/La Frontera in The Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers, a large archives devoted to Anzaldúa’s paper and ephemera, this study offers an archival analysis of Anzaldúa’s development of la facultad. This project details many unknown early components of this theory and details the conception of many of Anzaldúa’s better known theories such as mestiza consciousness. The dissertation then applies la facultad as a lens to evaluate and analyze two of Anzaldúa’s short stories, “El Paisano is a Bird of Good Omen” and “Reading LP.” The interdisciplinary nature of this dissertation seeks to contribute to the evolving field of Anzaldúan studies and to explore the rich theoretical framework Anzaldúa left as part of her legacy.
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    The sexualization of Blackness in China: Race, counter-images, and hypervisibility
    (2022-08-01T05:00:00.000Z) Amos, Ch'Nell; Bender, Ashley; Lackey, Dundee; Barker, Jaime
    Encounters between Black women and citizens of China are marred by physical assaults, sexualization, and exoticism—masked as curiosity—and carried out physically through excessive photos and touching of their skin and hair. This study examines the hypervisibility and invisibility of Black women in China using iconographic tracking to examine how image events of Black women move and mean throughout China. An analysis of 100 descriptions of encounters between Black women and Chinese citizens recorded via social media platforms and web-based blogs. Black women in China experience hypervisibility in society and the media, but invisibility in research and laws for their protections, which can generate psychological distress. They respond in the following ways: (1) Did Nothing (includes counter-images as an automatic action but not reactive response); (2) Acceptance, (3) Embrace the ‘Celebrity’, (4) Outward Expressions of Annoyance, (4) Laughed them off, and (5) Set Boundaries. Although Chinese citizens and Black women do not always recognize hypersexualized encounters as assault, I aim to give language to the phenomena.
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    HOME DEPO[R]T: [Un]Documented nostalgia and memories in Vietnamese/American diasporic stories at the center of [Re]Alienation
    (2022-12-01T06:00:00.000Z) Nguyen, Kathy; Phillips-Cunningham, Danielle; Beins, Agatha; Keating, AnaLouise
    Viet Thanh Nguyen poignantly yet hauntingly recognizes that “all wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory” (Nothing Ever Dies 4). The Việt Nam War continues to produce untold ghost stories, or stories from Vietnamese refugees and war survivors who continue to live in the margins and elsewhere, obscured and stilled into ghastly silence as their stories remain untold and undocumented. In this dissertation, divided into three different articles, but with strands threading and intersecting with each other, I examine the many haunted, and haunting, memories and stories of Vietnamese refugees as they become displaced ghosts or citizens inhabiting within the geopolitical borders surrounding the diaspora. The first article is an ethnomusicological and oral historical exploration and rereading of pre-1975 Vietnamese diasporic music. I examine how that compilation of sounds, lyrics, and notes become rhapsodic artifacts to re-member South Vietnamese veterans. Vietnamese music produced and written during the pre-1975 Việt Nam War era are heard as sounds of echoic re-memories during dislocation and displacement. The second article frames an intimate oral historical narrative about my mother and her memories of surviving, navigating, and living through the war as a young South Vietnamese woman who was essentially an invisible citizen. Survivalism during the war should not be gendered, but the war’s ethos centralizes on men’s nationalistic badges of honor while women are left behind. The third article, like the first article, continues to retrace the diasporic sounds of Vietnamese music from the pre-1975 era, while specifically focusing on the lyrics and unsettling images of boats and water, evoking the moment when former Vietnamese citizens became refugees who escaped by boat. In Vietnamese, nước can mean water, nation, country, and homeland, showing a perpetual disconnect and precarity among refugees living in exiled displacement and the continual im/migratory plight of refugees as their memories and stories travel somewhere. Together, the three papers explore the weighted complexities of re-memories, identities, citizenships, wars, displacement, resettlement, ghosts, pervasive hauntology, ethnomusicology, and colonialism.
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    Escaping culpability: An intersectional feminist analysis of gendered whiteness
    (2022-08-01T05:00:00.000Z) Cavener, Christina; Phillips-Cunningham, Danielle; Keating, AnaLouise; Williams, James
    White women’s pivotal involvement in the maintenance of white supremacy in the US points to a necessary exploration of their whiteness. Historically and presently, many white women demonstrate their commitment to uphold their privileged position through their politics, beliefs, and daily interactions with whites and BIPOC. With some exceptions, most research on whiteness is broadly construed, not specific to women, and rarely draws from whites’ perceptions of race. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the raced and gendered perceptions of some white women and explore how they enact whiteness. The primary question guiding this study is: how do white women enact whiteness? I employed an intersectional feminist qualitative approach to perform twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews with white women in the South. The participants enacted whiteness through white ignorance, fragility, and innocence. The analysis revealed how these white women refused to implicate themselves within racism. This study brings attention to the ways in which white women sustain white supremacy and offers tools to disrupt whiteness.
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    Towards a post-oppositional womanist pedagogy
    (10/25/2021) Martin, Jennifer V; Keating, AnaLouise
    Building on the definitions and work of womanist scholars such as Alice Walker, Layli Maparyan, and AnaLouise Keating, this dissertation explores the possibility of a post-oppositional womanist pedagogy that can serve as a potential solution to the oppositional pedagogies and hyper individualistic cultures in Western education systems. This research discusses the following themes that emerged from interviews: (1) womanism draws people in/feels welcoming because of the spiritual component; (2) spirituality is an important aspect of personal choices, pedagogical choices, and worldviews; (3) self-care and community care are deeply connected; and (4) dialogue and an understanding of interconnectedness/interrelatedness are components of post-oppositional pedagogies. This dissertation offers a more expanded definitions of womanism and explores some possible ways of shifting teaching practices to a more post-oppositional approach.
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    Decolonizing childbirth: Women, traditional birth attendants and reproductive justice in Nigeria
    (8/13/2021) Ajayi-Lowo, Esther Oluwashina; Sahlin, Claire L
    This research study is a decolonial qualitative exploration of indigenous Yoruba birthing perspectives in Nigeria. Adopting feminist and African indigenous methodologies and using the theoretical framework of birth and reproductive justice, this study analyzes 25 in-depth interviews conducted in the Yoruba language with traditional midwives (agbebis) and birthing women (abiyamos) who use their pregnancy and childbirth services in the Ebute-Metta and Yaba areas of Lagos, Nigeria. Given that nonmedical attendants attend most of the childbirths in Nigeria and Africa more broadly, my research seeks to document and analyze the intergenerational indigenous knowledge of traditional midwives in Nigeria and the indigenous birthing perspectives of the women who use their services. It explores how the indigenous birthing knowledge of traditional midwives and the socio-cultural and spiritual birthing perspectives of the women who use their services may lead to more culturally appropriate and locally sustainable maternal health strategies, not only in Nigeria but also globally. It finds that the abiyamos describe their use of childbirth services with agbebis as a communal phenomenon, sustained by their birth attendants’ comforting care, their belief in traditional medicine, trust in agbebis’ birthing expertise, preference for vaginal childbirth, and overall resistance to compulsory and/or unnecessary medicalization of the child birthing process through a C-section. This research also finds that the agbebis utilize Yoruba indigenous birthing knowledge, practices, and procedures that have been historically passed down to them from the lineage of previous generations. They described their birthing practices as compassionate communal work and discussed the continued use of indigenous birthing know-how for successful pregnancy care and child delivery even with regard to physical conditions that have been assumed to be beyond the agbebis’ expertise. Overall, findings from the interviews with both the agbebis and the abiyamos document the desire for a mutually supportive and respectful coexistence of the indigenous and western medical birthing paradigms to enable birthing women to choose birthing approaches depending on their needs and preferences. As this study demonstrates, to improve maternal healthcare and reduce maternal deaths the perspectives of indigenous midwives and birthing women must be centered in research, policy, and advocacy work.
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    “Imagining it differently, dreaming it passionately”: Examining women-of-colors science fiction as womanist spiritual activism
    (7/28/2021) Alder, Kristin M.; Keating, AnaLouise, 1961-
    In this dissertation I explore the ways in which women-of-colors science fiction can be regarded as womanist spiritual activism. Building upon the work of Gloria E. Anzaldúa, AnaLouise Keating, and Layli Maparyan, I define spiritual activism as an engaged spirituality directed towards the ending of all forms of oppression that highlights the transformation possible when self and community collaborate in purposeful and interdependent radical change. Using Anzaldúa’s discussion of the path of conocimiento, a spiritual, psychological, intellectual, and even embodied journey that enhances self-reflexivity and self-awareness, I demonstrate how the act of spiritual activism is enacted in the plots of four women-of-colors science fiction novels: The Moons of Palmares by Zainab Amadahy, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, and Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias. In the development of this argument, I rely on textual analysis highlighting the capabilities of fiction in eliciting an empathetic response in the reader and the transformative and visionary capacity of science fiction as a genre. I call for a reading of these women-of-colors novels that is culturally aware and cognizant of both the onto-epistemologies that inform the novel and the way the fantastic, or magical, is a representation of “alternative spiritual technologies” (Lavender III Race 31). Lastly, I consider how the writing of these four novels is a transformative act in its ability to critique the oppressive realities of current society and imagine new more just worlds. The novels, then, exist as acts of “relanguaging” (Maparyan, Idea 129) which work to rewrite and replace negative thoughtforms which support the status quo. The writing of these artforms, too, is a healing act of spiritual activism. Awakening the imagination and the spiritual, these novels invite readers to consider journeying on their own paths of conocimiento ultimately considering how personal and societal change lead to the healing process of spiritual activism. With this analysis of women-of-colors science fiction novels as spiritual activism, I hope to raise questions about the lack of spirit in our academic conversations about the work of women of colors.
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    Light in the classroom: Contemplative practice as a resource for navigating uncomfortable feelings and difficult conversations in Women’s and Gender Studies’, anti-oppression, and social justice classrooms
    (5/25/2021) Wilson, Carla Nikol; Keating, AnaLouise, 1961-
    This dissertation, “Light in the Classroom: Contemplative Practices as a Tool for Navigating Uncomfortable Feelings and Difficult Conversations in Women’s and Gender Studies’ Anti-Oppression, and Social Justice Classrooms,” explores contemplative practices such as mindfulness, meditation, compassionate listening, and journaling as a means to self-awareness, self-compassion, and empathy for self and others. Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) and social justice classrooms and pedagogy include difficult conversations on social justice topics such as privilege, oppression, and white supremacy culture and characteristics. Difficult conversations often invoke uncomfortable feelings such as defensiveness, denial, anger, sadness, tension, grief, and resistance. I propose that contemplative practices can provide students with opportunities to self-reflect, to observe their feelings with self-compassion, and to listen to their bodies as a source of wisdom, enabling them to stay present and engaged when uncomfortable feelings arise during difficult classroom conversations about social justice and anti-oppression. The knowledge generated from my exploration will contribute to two ongoing conversations: scholarship on WGS and social justice pedagogies (especially concerning difficult conversations) and the growing discourse on contemplative practices in higher education. Through a qualitative study, my dissertation offers new insights to the conversations on the implementation of contemplative practices in a WGS classroom, in a social justice pedagogy, and in a higher education context through listening to WGS students’ self-reported experiences participating in contemplative practices.
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    Womanism, work, and wealth: (Re)Framing the business administration contributions of Marie Thérèse “Coincoin” Métoyer and Henriette Delille
    (4/23/2021) Johnson, Angela A; Keating, AnaLouise, 1961-
    Womanism, Work, and Wealth: (Re)Framing the Business Administration Contributions of Marie Thérèse “Coincoin” Métoyer and Henriette Delille analyzes the business administration contributions of Métoyer and Delille through a womanist lens. Métoyer and Delille were free during a time in the history of the Americas when women of African descent were generally identified as enslaved laborers. As women-of-color business professionals, their ability to control their own labor and identities (as free women of African descent) offers an alternative perspective on women of color’s experience in leadership and capitalism in the Americas. In this dissertation, I put Métoyer’s and Delille’s business contributions into conversation with Layli Maparyan’s strand of womanist theory to demonstrate the ways a womanist approach to business administration can enrich the practices of contemporary leaders. In so doing, I underscore the importance of Métoyer and Delille as active and vital business administration contributors in the Americas and offer lessons for both Business Administration and Women’s and Gender Studies scholars to consider.
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    Intersections of religion and race in Women's and Gender Studies: Possibilities for teaching introductory courses
    (4/16/2021) Clinard, Marcella C.; Sahlin, Claire L.
    This dissertation study aims to improve social-justice education by investigating an area of diversity that is often overlooked within the field of women’s and gender studies (WGS): religion. Using introductory WGS courses as a case study, I examine how instructors teach about religion as it intersects with other axes of social identity and power, especially race, ethnicity, and nationality. I conducted an exploratory qualitative case study of WGS general introductory undergraduate classes in the US in recent years, using the following data sources: six textbooks assigned in introductory courses, thirty-eight syllabi for introductory courses, a survey of thirty-five WGS faculty of introductory courses, and in-depth interviews with seven faculty WGS members who demonstrated an interest in teaching and researching about religion. Qualitative analysis and triangulation of sources revealed three main themes: 1) when WGS faculty are willing and committed to teaching about religion in spite of the risks, they often choose to do so by organically integrating religion into their teaching; 2) WGS faculty who are committed to teaching about religion in a relational way often focus on religion as a complex intersectional source of socialization for empowerment and/or oppression; and 3) WGS faculty could enact student-centered feminist pedagogy featuring open and respectful dialogue as they teach about religion and race whether or not it’s their specialty. In addition to discussing the theoretical implications of these findings, my dissertation includes a discussion of pedagogical implications of each theme, including sample materials for faculty self-reflection, class activities, and resources for further learning. Through my dissertation, I hope to empower social-justice educators with concrete possibilities for responding to bigotry and oppression that involves religion as a source of social power and inequality.
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    Shared blood: An analysis of menstrual blood as enchanted matter in depictions of menstrual art on Instagram
    (6/3/2021) Alvarez, Diana M; Busl, Gretchen Lynne
    This dissertation explores the myriad ways in which images shared on the social media platform Instagram convey menstrual blood as a form of vibrant matter. The study interprets the inherent fluidity of menstrual blood as an invitation to play with definitions of what constitutes blood itself in art. To this effect, I analyze images depicting actual menstrual blood— including stains, leaks, and menstrala—as well as images that depict visual menstrual blood metaphors. Through a textual and visual analysis of a curated sample of menstrual art that ranges broadly in mode and style, I present emerging sanguineous epistemologies. My dissertation touches on important conversations in Women’s and Gender Studies topics such as the body, sexuality, femininity, horror, and the abject as they relate to menstrual blood on Instagram.
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    Biracial identity development: A study of colorism and racial invalidation
    (8/17/2020) Gandy, Rachelle Leigh; Beins, Agatha, 1976-
    I examine the impact familial and social dynamics play in bi/multiracial (my term for non-monoracial people) women’s sense of their own racial identity. I argue for the need to reevaluate our understanding of colorism when applied to bi/multiracial individuals who are the amalgamation of their parent’s interracial relationship. Their lived experiences show that lighter skin and other bodily features that signify “whiteness” are not necessarily or always more desirable. As the bi/multiracial women I spoke with demonstrate, claims to nonwhite identity categories or to multiple racial and ethnic identities may reflect attempts to externalize one’s own sense of self and/or desires to belong with one’s kin.
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    The power of the Appalachian trail: Reimagining the nature narrative through Autohistoria-teoría
    (4/13/2020) Wolsey, Pamela White; Keating, AnaLouise, 1961-
    This study situates the Appalachian Trail (AT) as a powerful place connecting multiple communities with varying identities, abilities, and personalities, a place where we can consider our radical interconnectedness in a way that moves beyond wilderness ideology and settler colonialism through the construction of an inclusive narrative about experiences in nature. I engage in this work as a rejection of the oppressive ideologies that shape our wilderness narratives, and as a critical examination of the ways I perpetuate these ideologies through my actions as thru-hiker/scholar. The procedure for this study included the enactment of autohistoria-teoría, a method developed by Gloria E. Anzaldúa to process and theorize the divisions that mold our experiences. Out of this enactment developed (and continues) a deep understanding of how the spirit of nonhumans contributes to the language of place. Every place has a story to tell, one that includes the perspectives of all who have inhabited it, human and nonhuman. Like many stories, however, often, only one side is presented. The story of the AT is no exception. To enact decolonial transformation, I give you a magical account of my thru-hiker experience.
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    Environmental materialism: A study of relationships among matter.
    (6/5/2020) Thornton, Finley; Kessler, Mark; Bejarano, Christina
    Environmental materialism is a theory of relationships split out in a tripartite formula that looks at the relationship between A and B, with C being the relationship between A and B. Currently the status quo of human relationships with nature is that of human superiority over nature. Environmental materialism redefines this perspective to that of viewing humans as nature in a relationship with non-human matter. This is important because it raises important questions about matter, agency, ethics, spirituality, and social justice. This thesis looks at each of these concepts grounded in current theory and in conjunction with environmental materialism to create a pathway to comic books as social justice and as accessible education. I create this bridge by putting environmental materialism into conversation with Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip by Bill Watterson, and concluding my thesis with a historical account of education as activism through Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Black Panther, the comic strip and movie.
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    The canine-human interrelationship as a model of post-oppositionality
    (4/7/2020) Merenda, Kimberly C.; Keating, AnaLouise, 1961-; Beins, Agatha, 1976-; Souris, Stephen
    This dissertation is premised on the theory that the predominant westernized social paradigm is rooted within a system of oppositionality, a way of believing, being, and behaving through which concepts and entities are set against each other in a binarily divided and ranked system of continual conflict and disparity. Oppositionality depends upon (and proceeds from) internalized and interpersonal division, disconnection, and the disavowal of commonality, and it affects both individuals and social institutions. Surveying predominant western philosophy and religion, my study argues oppositionality as a system of vast, intersectional social and planetary harm that has been instrumental in bringing about the current epoch of the Anthropocene. Despite the predominance of oppositionality, I argue that there are ideas that we hold, things that we do, and identities that we embody that elude or are quietly immune from oppositionality’s conceptualization and practice. These ideas, actions, and ontologies rise as anomalies, as outliers to the dominant system, and an examination of an anomaly can shift the predominance of oppositionality, enable consciousnesses and practices of post-oppositionality. Using textual analysis and Gloria Anzaldúa’s narrative genre autohistoria-teoría, I explore a speculated prehistoric pre-oppositionality of the canine and human co-evolution and explicate the contemporary canine-human interrelationship as an anomaly to westernized oppositionality—as a site of compelling implications, possibilities, and potentials. Utilizing recent data, I examine the startling reconceptualization of the dog in the United States within the last twenty years, theorizing this reconceptualization as demonstrating the dog-human interrelationship as a liminal space in which an increasing number of humans envision, experiment with, and enact post-oppositionality. As such, my dissertation speculates, the dog-human interrelationship is an anomaly to prevailing oppositionality and exists as a model of post-oppositional possibilities.