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2017 Research Grant Recipient Reports

2017 grant recipients tell us about what they accomplished


Grant Report – Dr. Resiree Rowe and Dr. Michaela Frischherz

Towson University

Title: Women’s Orgasm and the Happiness Imperative

As per the grant guidelines, we are pleased to report the status of the submitted project and the use of funds.   The grant made possible our pursuit of a second round of critical focus group research. During the Fall 2017 semester, we solidified a new community partnership with a women’s clothing retailer in Dover, DE.  We utilized the customers of this retailer to convene in conversation a new group of women. As indicated in our proposal, we aimed to use the ORWAC grant to move beyond our initial group of participants. Our project began in a lesbian-owned feminist sex shop in Baltimore (where we conducted our first round of focus groups) and extended our project, through the support of ORWAC, to Lularoe clothing enthusiasts in Dover, DE. Through online recruitment, we recruited three focus groups, and convened women-identified women at a Dover hotel conference room in January 2018. The ORWAC funding was used towards:

In Dover, we structured our focus groups to “privilege and advance understanding about the intersectionality and complexity defining women’s lives . . . [and] favor the voices, experience, discourses, performance and lives of women.”  The conversations we staged with our participants illustrate how narrations of orgasm tap into the rich complexity of pleasure as a communicative, process-oriented experience, rather than orgasm as an end-game or final destination for sex.  This study moves individuals identifying as women out of the one-on-one interview context into small group conversation to access the meaning-making and sense-making practices of discussing sex, pleasure, and orgasm. Centrally, the project places an inherent value on “sex talk.”  Even when women discuss faking orgasm, and even when women articulate a sense of being “confused” or “failing,” the site of small group conversation gestates the possibility of accessing the communicative contours of “good sex,” “bad sex,” and “sex.” 


Grant Report - Woori Han, Ph. D. Candidate

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Title: Cultural and affective production of queer women in the Korea Queer Culture Festival

I am writing to report on my dissertation fieldwork made possible by Research Development Grant from the Organization for Research on Women and Communication (ORWAC) in 2017. My dissertation titled “Cultural and affective production of queer women in the Korea Queer Culture Festival” investigates cultural production of the Korea Queer Culture Festival to understand how queer women’s selfhood and citizenship is configured and reconfigured through cultural and affective practices.

I have conducted fieldwork on the Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) organizing board in Seoul, South Korea. The KQCF events, including Pride parade, queer film festival, and a party, took place July 2017 and the preparation for the festival was intensive in June and July. KQCF organizers became most available for interviewing in after the events in July and August. For this reason, the ORWAC grant was used to supplement living expenses in Seoul from June to August, 2017, and was essential to my fieldwork.

During my fieldwork, which actually began in January 2017 and lasted until August 2017, I conducted participant-observation at various sites, including: the weekly meetings of the parade and film festival teams; the orientation program for newly joined festival organizers; organizers’ meetings with Euro-American embassies and city government officials; anti-gay rallies; and all festival events. Through this fieldwork, I sought to identify how queer women producers decide to join the organizing board, how they define being queer in Korea by casting performers and speakers for the parade; how they interact with the embassies, anti-gay groups, and the government; and how they feel about themselves and others in those culture-making experiences. I interviewed a total of thirty-eight festival organizers, queer performers, LGBT activists, and labor movement activists who participated in the festival. I also drew from a collection of the festival’s official pamphlets and other materials since 2000 at the Korea Queer Archive in Seoul.

Since leaving the field at the end of August 2017, I have been writing my dissertation, in expectation of my dissertation defense in Spring 2019. I have drafted one chapter titled “Proud of Myself as LGBTQ: The Seoul Pride Parade, Homonationalism, and Queer Developmental Citizenship” Fall 2017. In this chapter, I show how Pride organizers and participants negotiate nationalism, developmentalism, and global human rights discourses to reconstruct citizenship in interaction with anti-gay protestors, Euro-American embassy staffs, and city government officials. Part of this chapter was presented at the National Communication Association annual conference, 2017. The paper presented was awarded top student paper from the GLBTQ Studies Division, NCA. Based on other chapters that analyze Korean queer women’s affective labor and precarity, I will present papers at the International Communication Association, 2018 (one titled “From Pride to passion to enervation: Affective labor in the Seoul Pride parade”) and at the Cultural Studies Association, 2018 (titled “Cultural production in the Seoul Pride parade: Affective labor, affective community, and queer collectivity).

None of these would have been possible without the grant I received from ORWAC. I would like to express my appreciation again for the generous support and the work of this organization.


Grant Report – Dr. Patricia Davis

Georgia State University

 Title - Raising the Hottentot Ghost: Gender, Corporeality, and Rhetorics of Respectability

I applied for and received the ORWAC grant with the objective of accomplishing two goals. The first was to conduct archival research at the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida and the Library of Congress, where some of Mary Church Terrell’s papers are housed. The second goal was to begin analysis of the gathered data and begin work on an essay entitled “Lifting as We Climb: Black Clubwomen, Class Politics, and the Discursive Construction of Ocular Respectability.”  The essay will comprise a chapter in my current book project, Raising the Hottentot Ghost: Gender, Corporeality, and Rhetorics of Respectability. The grant’s resources enabled me to accomplish most of these goals, as well as an additional goal that I had not anticipated at the time of application.

I traveled to Daytona Beach Florida, and spent time at the Bethune archives, examining her public speeches, as well as the columns she wrote for The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier in the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s. The data I gathered there, while not what I expected to find, nevertheless is very important to my research plan for the essay and the book. In fact, in many ways, I have had to reevaluate the argument I intended to make in this chapter. Prior to conducting my research, I anticipated making the argument that, though there were class differences between the primary constituencies Bethune and Terrell addressed, they both engaged similar racial uplift/respectability ideologies with respect to their prescriptions for African American women’s corporeal presentation. Upon conducting extensive research on Bethune’s writings, I believe that the differences between the two women’s positions are more profound than the similarities. 

I would also like to report on one unanticipated outcome of the ORWAC grant. Based upon my receipt of the grant and the research I have done with it up to this point, I was awarded an internal grant to take one semester’s research leave in order to work on the book. The archival research I have conducted thus far on Bethune has enabled me to complete a significant portion of the chapter; the research on Terrell I will undertake in late May/ early June will provide the necessary data for completion of the remainder of the chapter. I anticipate completing the chapter this summer; I will take my research leave during the fall 2018 semester, and will use the time to revise the chapter and continue working on the book. The resources provided through the ORWAC grant have thus been instrumental in multiple ways, and I am tremendously grateful for the support.


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