Theses Doctoral

The Whisperings of an Old Pine: More-Than-Human Histories at the Bread Loaf School of English

Wittchow, Ashlynn Marie

Informed by post-humanism, my research examines the entanglement of more-than-human forces at the Bread Loaf School of English. The oldest professional development institution of its kind, the Bread Loaf School of English has invited teachers to spend six-weeks each summer studying at its mountain campus since the summer of 1920. When the physical campus was forced to close indefinitely on the eve of its one-hundredth anniversary at the start of the pandemic, the loss of this physical space prompted meditations on over a century of institutional tradition as teachers shared their stories of the mountain campus.

Bread Loaf’s landscape is teeming with narrative—stories that blossom like wildflowers each summer before fading with the coming winter. Within those narratives, like the Deleuzoguattarian “orchid and wasp,” the human and non-human transform one another in an intra-active entanglement of bodies. What happens when we pause and attempt to follow the threads of these entangled narratives in order to better understand how more-than-human bodies meet, collide, and contaminate one another over time to constitute the assemblage of the Bread Loaf School of English? The rich tapestry that begins to unfold offers a model for more-than-human storytelling well beyond the mountain, spanning the manifold landscapes teachers return to at the end of the summer.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Blau, Sheridan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 3, 2024