Tuesday, November 29, 2016

URSP Student Jessica Rauchberg Investigates Neurological Disability and its Influences on How We Communicate our Performances of Gender and Sexuality

I always knew I was interested in research and really wanted to apply to OSCAR, but I was a bit unsure of where to start. As an active member of the university’s nationally ranked Forensics (competitive public speaking) Team, my junior year, I competed with an argumentative, performance based speech discussing the stigmatization of disabled performances of sexuality and intimacy, inspired by my own personal experiences. I linked together several different styles and pieces of literature to create my performance. During that time, I also took Feminist Research Methods with Dr. Angie Hattery in the Women and Gender Studies program. I told Dr. Hattery about my speech, and after a bit of discussion, she encouraged me to apply for an OSCAR grant to explore this topic through an autoethnographic project. Essentially, using threads of personal narratives, narrative analysis, and more traditional objective styles of academic writing, I am using this project as an investigation on how neurological disability (in my case, a non-verbal learning disability) influences how we communicate our performances of gender and sexuality.

I usually meet with my mentor, Dr. Rachel Lewis, at least once a week. I carve out at least an hour every day to write, edit, or continue my research. This semester, I’ve especially concentrated on learning how to write evocative narratives and manipulate more creative styles of academic writing to work with how I’m constructing my project. It has definitely been a challenge since all my knowledge on autoethnographic writing is self-taught, but I think the effort has been worth it thus far. I’m hoping to extend funding for this project to next semester, as my mentor and I are planning on doing a research symposium and staging an auto performance of the narratives. Additionally, I plan on submitting the written portion of the autoethnography for journal publication in graduate school. Post-graduation, I hope to continue autoethnographic, performance, and gender research. I would also love to eventually receive my doctorate and work in a university setting.