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Visiting Scholar Spotlight

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Emily Hainze is a Visiting Scholar in WGSS for the 2019-2020 academic year. Emily received her PhD from Columbia University in Comparative Literature. Prior to graduate school, Emily worked in the legal field and became very interested in the stories people told about their experiences with the law and with institutional power, which is why she choose to go to school for cultural and literary history. For her, “literary studies provides tools to understand how our cultural narratives shape formations of social difference – specifically, the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. Because gender, sexuality, and feminist studies comes out of a long history of social activism, [she is] also interested in how textual representation has been used to contest and imagine different forms of social life.”

In this upcoming year, Emily plans to continue writing and revising her work, “Incorrigible: Writing from the Early Women’s Prison in the United States,” which draws on an array of texts in order to document women’s imprisonment and to reimagine social difference and social intimacy in a modernizing United States. She argues the women’s prison was actually a hotbed for many kinds of social dissent and creative work at the turn of the century. “To spotlight the ways that incarcerated women pushed back against carceral coercion,” she tends “to look at texts that have been overlooked or dismissed as not traditionally literary: institutional records, letters written by women in prison, writing about social reform and activism, photographs.”

When asked why her research is timely, Emily said, “Incarceration, criminalization, and state violence against women – disproportionately women of color – remains a central issue right now.  My research contributes to the historical understanding of these systems’ origins. By exploring how women engaged with, represented and wrote about their experiences with this newly established prison system, I’m also hoping to shed some light on the traditions of activism, abolition and reform that emerged from the women’s prison in this period.  For example, early feminist reformers imagined and designed more ‘progressive’ prisons for women, but ended up expanding the carceral state and amplifying its harm.”

Emily also hopes to explore during her time at Northeastern how archival material is digitalized and made accessible to a wider public, as well as questions about ethical access to this material. She looks forward to conversation and collaboration around digital pedagogy and methodology. Emily is very excited to join the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program for more conversations about interdisciplinary feminist scholarship and is especially looking forward to the Program’s annual symposium in the spring.

Published On: September 10, 2019