ALS Doctoral Student Earns Dissertation Awards

Vicki Vanbrocklin, a Ph. D candidate in American Literary Studies, has garnered a 2021-2022 Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Her dissertation has also earned her a 2021-2022 Center for Regional Studies Fellowship, and was named as a runner up for the 2021-2022 Deans Graduate Dissertation Fellowship.

Vicki’s dissertation, More than the Defiant Few: Lost Womanhood and Necro Women Dismantling Nineteenth-Century Gender Ideologies, calls into question the lack of a more normative form of nineteenth-century womanhood outside of True Womanhood. Because the nineteenth-century Cult of True Womanhood depended on coloniality and patriarch to define itself, Vicki’s dissertation launches “Lost Womanhood” as a new category that includes women who would not or could not access a white middle-class form of womanhood. Lost Womanhood begins with black women who reveal that women have sought and created alternate forms of womanhood that acknowledge the successes of marginalized women to enact social change. As Vicki argues, “Lost Womanhood” reframes and normalizes the so-called rebellious behavior of Black, Mexican, and indigenous women on their own social and literary terms rather than framing them as marginal responses to whiteness. Combining first- and third-wave feminisms with archival research and close textual analysis, Vicki’s research sets out to rewrite American literary history from the vantage point of the lost.

Vicki’s dissertation research has already produced two forthcoming articles. The first, “The Sacred and Feminist Space of Loss: Susan Shelby Magoffin and Abortion,” will be published in Women’s Studies, a premier journal in the field, and her second article, “More than the Defiant Few: Lost Womanhood and the Outskirts of Nineteenth-Century Gender Ideologies,” will appear in the edited collection, A Space of One’s Own: Female Space and the Political and Artistic Body.

The Center for Regional Studies fellowship will allow Vicki to conduct archival research for two chapters, while the Bilinski fellowship will afford Vicki the opportunity to complete and defend the dissertation by Spring 2022. Dr. Jesse Alemán directs the award-winning dissertation.