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Amanda Davis, English PhD Candidate

Head of the CLAS

Amanda DavisAmanda Davis

English PhD candidate Amanda Davis has an amazing gift. She can engage a classroom of undergraduates in critical discussions on race, class and gender without major arguments arising. The result is a loyal following of students who keep in touch long after the semester is over, many of whom regard the experience as life altering.

“My women’s studies classes were often life changing for me as well,” Davis says. “Once the way I thought about the world and certain issues grew in depth and scope, it was difficult to not think about issues from a critical stance that more fully took account of the impact that intersections of race, gender, nationality, sexuality, and class have on peoples’ lives.”

Davis has taught the women’s studies introductory course, WST 3015, “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Women,” for the past nine semesters. The course focuses on such issues as third world women, women of color, the representation of women’s bodies, women and the law, violence against women, global feminism, and much more.

Davis has also taught Expository and Argumentative Writing and Writing about Literature through the English department. In the spring, she will get the chance to again teach a course she created in 2001 which focuses on one of her main research areas, Incarcerated Women: Their Autobiographies and Prison Writings. Davis’ dissertation, which she hopes to defend by this summer, is titled “Writing from the Women’s Prison: Autobiographical Texts by Incarcerated Women.”

Davis’ interest in researching women in prison started in 1995 when she began examining women’s personal narratives and the lack of rehabilitation programs offered to them as an undergraduate at Eastern Illinois University. “I read a disturbing study about the literacy rates of women in prison and realized that in and of itself could be a potential factor in the increasing number of women being incarcerated. ” She earned her BA in English from Eastern Illinois in 1998 and her MA in English from UF with a graduate certificate in women’s studies in 2000. Her thesis was “Shaping the Body Particular: Disciplinary Procedure, Institutional Power, and the Body in Women’s Autobiographies Written In and About Prison.”

In addition to women’s prison writings, Davis’ research interests center around women’s autobiographies, literature and theory by women of color, and feminist and womanist theory. She has received a Jacob K. Javits Graduate Fellowship in support of her work through the US Department of Education and has published three papers in refereed journals, seven reviews, and 13 encyclopedia essays.

“What I enjoy most about teaching,” Davis says, “is the energy and spirit of the students and their willingness to critically address the material that we’re covering and what the ramifications of those issues are outside the classroom.”

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