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From the garden club: Women cultivating identity and culture through literacy
My dissertation is an ethnographic study of older women in the village of Paxton, Nebraska (population around 500) and the literacies they use and create in their lives and community. Drawing primarily upon composition and literacy theories, feminist theory, regionalism, and memoir, I show how older women in Paxton used literacy in various ways: to evoke and sustain a sense of place and heritage for members of the community, to educate citizens of Paxton in order to (literally) keep the town alive, and to sustain themselves as learners, readers, and writers. In the processes of creating, shaping, and conducting these literate activities, the practices of these women—writing for the county paper, working at the library, writing memoirs, participating in community groups—exemplify the kinds of literacies researchers miss when they overlook women's literacy practices that do not fit dominant kinds of literacy and learning. ^ Informed by composition and literacy scholars (Brandt, Roskelly and Ronald, Gere), I conclude that locating and analyzing Paxton women's literacies through a place-bound lens—based on the ways they contextualize their own literate lives—provide a new alternative for valuing scholarship and student writing in the field of composition and literacy studies. For example, I show how literacies enacted in a small town challenge accepted scholarly notions of the separate spheres of public and private in feminist studies and composition theory in ways that other studies have not. I refigure Deborah Brandt's term “sponsorship” to consider not only how Paxton women's literacies complicate historical and contemporary representations of women from the rural Great Plains but also how their literate (hi)stories might enhance and complicate rural revitalization projects at work today and writing done by college students. More broadly, implications of my research for literacy studies include a consideration of a regional pedagogy that imagines ways to use place as a heuristic for thinking and writing in composition classrooms, as well as a greater understanding of the gendered nature of literacy. ^
Language, Rhetoric and Composition
Hogg, Charlotte Ann, "From the garden club: Women cultivating identity and culture through literacy" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3009726.