Emily Bock '11 Wins Second Prize for Paper at Women's Studies Conference
Emily Bock ’11 grew up in the heart of the lumber industry in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she worked outdoors with her brothers and her father, a chainsaw repairman and salesman. In the spring, Bock’s father took the family hunting; in the spring, they went fishing, hiking and searching for mushrooms.
Bock, an English major with a concentration in gender and sexuality studies, used her personal experience as a student from a working-class, rural background to enhance her academic work—and it’s resulted in recognition. She recently won second prize in the undergraduate division at the Geis Student Research on Women Conference, held in March at the University of Delaware. The conference invites submissions from students attending institutions in the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium.
Bock’s paper, entitled “Root Hog, or Die: Surviving as Working-Class in Academia,” was written for a bi-college course called “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender,” co-taught by Anne Dalke of Bryn Mawr College and Kristin Lindgren, director of Haverford’s Writing Center. The title of the paper refers to how hogs root for nuts and other edibles in the dirt. “It means doing anything necessary to survive,” says Bock. “It can also mean something along the lines of take care of yourself—‘hoe your own row,’ as my dad says—or be destined to fail.”
The paper explores how the perspectives and literary traditions of working-class women enrich academia. Specifically, Bock focuses on Appalachian women’s poetry. “Poems by women from Appalachia reflect experiences that can rarely be found in any curriculum in academic institutions,” she says in her paper. “The raw emotion and craving for survival sets their work apart from anything I have read before.”
Winning second prize at the Geis Conference, says Bock, made her feel like “my experience was being acknowledged and my opinion was legitimate. It was very affirming.”
“Emily’s writing is animated by her desire to find points of contact between her academic work and her roots,” says Kristin Lindgren. “She brings to the classroom a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, a keen interest in gender issues, and a commonsense approach to critical inquiry.”
Bock, who will intern at Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center this summer, was one of eight Haverford students and one Bryn Mawr student who presented at the Geis Conference. Lindgren credits Assistant Professor of English Theresa Tensuan, coordinator of Haverford’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, for bringing what she calls a “terrific cohort” of students to this year’s conference. “[Tensuan] has energetically nurtured student scholarship on gender,” she says.
Bock’s eight fellow presenters, and their faculty sponsors, were:
Melissa McCartney ’10 (Theresa Tensuan) Emily Tartanella ’10 (Theresa Tensuan) Sophie Taylor ’10 (Theresa Tensuan) Kaia Davis ’10 (Craig Borowiak) Kayla Hoskinson ’11 (Kristin Lindgren and Anne Dalke) Karina Puttieva ’11 (Kristin Lindgren and Anne Dalke) Jillian Barndt BMC ’10 (Hank Glassman) Kylie Lipinski ’12 (Banu Nilgun Uygun)