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Harter named Outstanding Feminist Teacher, Mentor

Alex Koumas | Oct 18, 2011

Harter named Outstanding Feminist Teacher, Mentor

By Alex Koumas,

Margaret Quinlan, Stephanie Norander, Lynn Harter, Marie Thompson, and Courtney ColeAT RIGHT: Dr. Lynn Harter, center, stands with Margaret Quinlan, MA '07, Ph.D. '09; Stephanie Norander, BA '99, Ph.D. '08; doctoral candidate Marie Thompson; and Courtney Cole, MA '09, at the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG) annual conference in Evanston, Ill. on Oct. 15, 2011. Dr. Harter was named the 2011 Outstanding Feminist Teacher and Mentor. / Provided photo

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 18, 2011) – Dr. Lynn Harter, the Steven and Barbara Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University, received awards from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG) on Saturday at the organization’s annual conference in Evanston, Ill.

Dr. Harter was named the 2011 Outstanding Feminist Teacher and Mentor and also received, with her former advisee Dr. Maggie Quinlan, MA ’07, Ph.D. ’09, the Anita Taylor Outstanding Published Article Award for their piece, “Meaning in Motion: The Embodied Poetics and Politics of Dancing Wheels.”

“Dr. Harter’s scholarship emphasizes human narratives—how we live and participate in the creation of our storied lives,” says School of Communication Studies Interim Director Jerry Miller. “Her passion for understanding human communication and the integrity she brings to her scholarship are admirable.”

The OSCLG selects the recipient of the feminist teacher-mentor on the basis of who has inspired students and colleagues by modeling feminist ideals of caring, community power-sharing, and commitment while also earning individual and collaborative records or achievement. The organization seeks to provide a forum for professional discussion, presentation of research and demonstration of creative projects in the areas of communication, language and gender, and to promote recognition of those doing work in this area.

“I remain in the academy because I believe in the value of feminist and narrative theory to address salient issues and foster edifying public dialogues about lived problems,” Harter explains. “To be acknowledged by an organization that supports such scholarship is quite meaningful.Also, to live a career of curiosity, to ask and answer questions as part of one’s life calling, is indeed a blessed way of living. I get to be a footnote in students’ lives just as they shape and inform who I continue to become.”

In choosing the winner of the Anita Taylor Outstanding Published Article Award, OSCLG seeks outstanding articles or chapters in an anthology concerned with communication, language and gender public. The article by Harter and Quinlan, now an assistant professor at University of North Carolina-Charlotte, examines poetic sense-making and illustrates the significance of numerous story forms, including dance, for organizations that do the work of social movements.

Harter said they decided to co-create this piece because of the bond they formed while Quinlan was focusing on her dissertation at Ohio University and because they share many similarities within their work.

“When Maggie was a doctoral student, we worked together on a research project at Passion Works, an art studio in Athens that supports the art of people with and without medically diagnosed disabilities,” explains Harter. “For her dissertation, she continued to explore storytelling through music and dance at Dancing Wheels, a modern dance company in Cleveland, Ohio, that sponsors performances composed by sit-down (wheelchair) and stand-up dancers. This article is one of many pieces to emerge from her dissertation that explores the powerful role of storytelling in raising awareness about inequities and mobilizing resources for social change.”

Quinlan, who also cowrites a chapter with Harter in an upcoming book Imagining New Normals, is excited to have garnered acclaim with one of her mentors. She said the winning article “gets at the beauty and complexity of Dancing Wheels.

“(At Dancing Wheels,) they are challenging understandings about the body and organizational practices that fail to acknowledge and/or respond to different bodies,” she said. “Through 30 years of alternative expressions of the body, combined with aesthetic creativity, Dancing Wheels has worked to change movements that can be considered or included in dance. Through its performances, Dancing Wheels has been able to expand our vision of communication, art, beauty, and activism.”

Harter, who was named the Schoonover Professor in 2008, used part of the creative activity and research stipend to produce a documentary with Casey Hayward, assistant professor in Media Arts and Studies, and Courtney Cole, Ph.D. student in the School of Communication Studies. The documentary focuses on pediatric cancer care and follows the work of Dr. Pete Anderson and his colleagues at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The film will air on WOUB on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. and on Oct. 24 at 9 p.m.

Miller said Harter’s continued success speaks to the passion she has for her work.

“Lynn is a respected and inspirational teacher and scholar and her students find the subjects she teaches meaningful and the manner in which she presents that information reveals the sincerity and passion she brings to the classroom,” said Miller.