Collective Compositions: From Spaces of Silence to Empowerment

Garner, Ashley

Feminist studies have demonstrated that co-education can be disempowering for young women. From the onset of puberty, male voices gain ascendency in classrooms, clubs, and co-curricular activities (Bell and Golombisky, 2004). This paper explores the techniques of discursive empowerment created by Speak Out: Exploring Womanhood, a student organization at Rutgers University created to help university women develop voice and agency. The group meets weekly to discuss events that affect the lives of college-aged women. Each meeting features a writing workshop through which members individually and collectively create poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction. Emphasizing cultural production as a means to engage male/body/race privileges, Speak Out publishes a newsletter both in print and online. By analyzing a selection of these texts, I will examine how writing contributes to an “empowered” or “vocal” self, one which addresses race and gender-based restrictions and injustices, while reimagining and articulating her rightful place in the world.


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On Our Terms: The Undergraduate Journal of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies

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Academic Units
Athena Center for Leadership Studies
Center for Digital Research and Scholarship
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October 21, 2015