I use this blog as a thinking space; it’s not polished/organized, and that’s on purpose. You’ll find entries that relate to my interdisciplinary interests (see word cloud in sidebar). While I will be excited for comments here and in other venues, lurkers are very welcome.


I had to video myself talking recently and was shocked at how much I say, “um.” This realization let me to this article, which offers some really helpful advice. But, it also gave me a lightning-strike moment re: gender and rhetoric with this line: “we use “um” and “ah” to hold onto the “conversational floor” as we are planning what we are going to say next.” I already knew that women tend to hedge and use filler words more than men, and I suddenly realized that I, personally, do absolutely use “um” to hold the floor. Because if I don’t, I am constantly interrupted. I tried, once, to count how many times I was interrupted in a day … and I gave up. (To be clear, I was interrupted at least as often by women as men. I’m not saying men are interrupters, necessarily. Rather, that in my experience, we all are enculturated to think it’s okay to interrupt women.) So … still searching for strategies to claim rhetorical space with resorting to holding the floor with um. Um, sigh.



This is a few months old, but an excellent read:

“Self-interrogation is a good place to start. If you see inequality as a “them” problem or “unfortunate other” problem, that is a problem. Being able to attend to not just unfair exclusion but also, frankly, unearned inclusion is part of the equality gambit.”


As COVID-19 continues to spread, I’ve been really impressed with one particular piece of technical communication. This chart has shown up in a number of places, and it’s the sort of visual representation that can really make a difference for audiences. When I saw it, I thought, “Oh–I get it now. Slowing the virus down actually lessens its impact.” This is some smart work.

A graph showing two curves and a dotted line representing the healthcare system's capacity running horizontally. One curve rises high above that line and peters out quickly; the other is a longer curve that goes on longer but peaks later and just brushes the capacity line.

Versions of this graphic have appeared in a number of places. This particular one can be found at:

Women speak!

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a report like this that … looks like this!



Feministing says goodbye

I just found out that Feministing is closing up shop. And the reason why is close to my heart. From their goodbye post:

“As digital media has become corporatized, many independent news sites and blogs have been forced to shutter. As the New York Times reports today, unfortunately, we find ourselves among these. While we became more financially sustainable over the years—in large part thanks to the support of readers like you!—we ultimately couldn’t build a long-term funding model in today’s media environment that would allow us to compensate our team fairly for their valuable work.”

The corporatization and convergence of both print and digital media have narrowed the perspectives represented as “mainstream” over the last several decades. Social media have, of course, arisen to offer an even greater variety of perspectives, but they do so without the oversight of journalist integrity that made independent media sources so important.

I’m very sad to lose Feministing as a site to read.

Screenshot showing Feministing's blog post about why they're shutting down

Women’s names

This article was sent to me last month by a smart friend who is thinking about the ramifications of name changes in academe. I wanted to pull out a few important quotes and ideas.

I love this idea: “For me, I realized that my marriage and the name-changing question gave me an opportunity for empowerment: to reclaim my identity with a name of a family I chose.” I like to see name-changing as an opportunity, a potential gain rather than a loss. After all, changing your name doesn’t mean you have to lose the name you had.

Also, this one: “We should not have to weigh the possibility that taking a new name equates to being taken less seriously as a scholar.”

Finally, this paragraph, which is one place where I don’t totally agree:

“When I asked colleagues to point out academic women who had taken a new name, they could only identify three conditions where scholars changed their names and went on to have a successful career. The first was in the early years of graduate school. For graduate students with only a few publications or presentations, the decision is often less frowned upon and might even go unnoticed by those looking over one’s curriculum vitae. The second acceptable condition is following a divorce posttenure. The idea here is that a woman is reclaiming her identity and thus it’s viewed as empowering, or at least respectable, due to the circumstances. The third acceptable condition is to hyphenate, joining one’s birth and married names.”

I think these conditions may seem more acceptable to some, but as a woman who changed her name before graduate school, I’ve still taken some heat. This usually has to do with my identification as feminist–aren’t feminists supposed to keep their names? Spoiler alert: No. Feminists are supposed to do whatever the heck they please with their names and we don’t owe anybody an explanation.

In the end, the only true downside I see about changing your name is functionality. If you do already have publications and somebody reads one and likes it, having different names on different articles may hinder them from finding your other work. But strategies exist for working around this problem.

Of course, all this presupposes that we only get one name and that name is static. That may be true for one’s legal name, but we can operate with different names beyond what is “official.” I take joy in operating as Erin Frost, Erin A. Frost, Erin Clark Frost, and Erin Clark across different contexts. They are all me, with some names representing identities that have closer associations to certain spaces, times, people, or ideas. I claim all these names as mine, and I never want to lose any of them.

CFP: Embodied and socially constructed?:  Dis/ability in media, law, and history

While the timing doesn’t work out for me, this call looks fantastic–I hope lots of folks apply! Deadline is in a month.

Call for Papers

Embodied and socially constructed?:  Dis/ability in media, law, and history

We invite proposals for papers to be included in a symposium and an edited book entitled, Embodied andsocially constructed?:  Dis/ability in media, law, and history. The symposium will be held at Suffolk University, Boston, from July 29-31, 2020.  We anticipate the anthology will publish at the beginning of 2021.

Whereas the older medical model of dis/ability saw people as physically, mentally, or otherwise lacking in ways that could be calculated as deficits, dis/abilities scholars now more broadly explore the variety of human bodies and their interactions with the social world.  The strong version of the social construction approach would say that bodily attributes are basically irrelevant, as their meanings will be determined entirely by ideologies.[1]  A strong version of embodiment theory, while not ignoring ideology, grounds its analysis almost entirely in the bodily senses and corporeality.[2]  Despite their shared rejection of the medical model, proponents of constructivist and embodiment theories have frequently disagreed on how to understand the relationship between bodies and society.  

The fields of Media Studies, Critical Legal Studies, and History have been at the vanguard in exploring the intersectionality[3] of race, gender, class, etc., but, with notable exceptions, have not significantly theorized dis/ability.  For example, media studies scholars highlight subjectivity and affects, but have not considered how both are embodied experiences; legal scholars currently focus on whether dis/ability laws can or should be used to help solve problems related to supposedly distinct identities, such as race; while history has focused on dis/ability but without engaging meaningfully with Critical Disability Studies.  This symposium and book will bring together interdisciplinary and intersectional scholarship on the simultaneous social construction and embodiment of dis/abilities.  We will thus ask how Media Studies, Critical Legal Studies, and History can interrogate dis/abilities at the nexus of corporeality and meaning making. Using the term “dis/ability” highlights the spectrum of disabilities and abilities and rejects the assumption that abilities are the norm.[4]  Moreover, it acknowledges what a person can do rather than what one cannot.  Lastly, it sees dis/abilities as processes rather than permanent states.

We will accept novel arguments from one or more of the fields of Media Studies, Critical Legal Studies, and History that approach dis/ability within the framework of the debate between embodiment and social constructivist perspectives. Authors are especially encouraged to consider the intersectionality of dis/abilities with both other identities and other structures of power.  Some questions that papers might ask include the following:

  • How, when, and where do people realize they have dis/abilities?
  • How do dis/abilities function as lenses of experiences?
  • How does (or does not) dis/ability shape identity/selfhood?
  • How do social/civic institutions shape experiences of dis/ability?
  • To what extent do dis/abilities compare and contrast with race, gender, class, and so on, as categories or vantage points of analysis?
  • How is the representation and treatment of people with neurodiversity similar or dissimilar to that of persons with non-normative physical abilities? 
  • How do cultural anxieties produced by the visibly disabled, people having imperceptible dis/abilities, and dis/ability as a concept compare and contrast with one another?
  • What are the costs and/or benefits for people with dis/abilities of drawing attention to non-normative bodily and mental attributes in their campaigns for equitable treatment?
  • Does considering pain to be both a physical experience and a site of meaning-making make it a particularly useful point of departure for analysis of dis/ability?

Regardless of an author’s topic, the editors will review all proposals and make selections based on quality and relevance to the project’s underlying themes.  Both veterans of DisCrit theory and emerging scholars are encouraged to submit proposals.  Authors of accepted proposals will be expected to participate in the “Embodied and socially constructed?:  Dis/ability in media, law, and history” symposium.  Symposium participants will provide a high-quality draft paper at the symposium, which will be read in advance by other attendees and thus not formally presented; provide constructive feedback on others’ papers during the symposium; and finalize polished book chapters shortly thereafter.  Participants in the symposium are rebuttably presumed to be accepted into the published book.

Interested contributors should note the following deadlines:

  1. Friday, January 17th, 2020:  Send a 250-750-word abstract with a working title, biography or CV, and contact information to, placing “Symposium” in the header;
  2. Friday, February 28th 2020:  The editors will notify contributors of their acceptance into the symposium;
  3. Wednesday, July 8th, 2020: Final deadline to submit a 5,000-7,500-word paper for peer review among symposium participants;
  1. Thursday, July 9th-Tuesday, 28th, 2020: Read three to five drafts of other participants’ papers and prepare oral feedback;
  1. Wednesday, July 29th-Friday, July 31st, 2020: Symposium in Boston: Make a brief (5 minutes) presentation at the symposium then receive feedback from other participants and also discuss others’ drafts;
  1. Monday, August 3, 2020:  Editors will confirm that papers have been accepted for publication;
  1. Monday, August 24th, 2020:  Submit final 5,000-7,500-word book chapter for editing and publication.

Send inquiries and proposal submissions to Micky Lee,