English Faculty Research

English Faculty Research

Catch up with research from the English department at Merrimack College.

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Dr. Paul Vatalaro

Despite the legislative gains made by the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s, economic discrimination persisted. One of the obstacles women faced was access to credit, which, in a capitalist system – as many feminists realized – meant access to power. Toward that end, feminists on the left founded their own credit unions, and not long after, mainstream feminists launched women’s banks. This paper explores how, in unique ways, feminist credit unions and women’s banks sought to use the tools of capitalism to thwart economic discrimination, educate and empower women, and help fund the growth of the women’s movement. For years, feminists had increasingly launched businesses to enable women to make a living while promoting economic equality and the growth of the feminist movement. But feminist financial institutions went one step further. Banks and credit unions drew back the curtain on the gendered nature of money and, at the same time, sought to re-gender it. Feminist credit unions did so by seeking to create new anti-capitalist and separatist institutions, whereas the more mainstream women’s banks embraced capitalism but wanted to give women equal access to everything within it. While gender inspired the advent of both feminist credit unions and women’s banks, gender – and gender politics – would also prove to be their undoing as both struggled to thwart bias and to balance economic realities with loftier political, social, and cultural goals. While both institutions were short- lived, they offer a window onto the links feminists made between activism and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Diana Arterian

The Editors’ Selection for the 1913 Press Prize for First Books in 2016. This is a book-length poem weaving many threads, but predominantly childhood experiences with an abusive father and, as an adult, increasingly aggressive acts made toward the speaker’s mother by strange men. Playing Monster :: Seiche is a piece of noir poetics. It is memoir. It is documentary.

Emma Duffy-Comparone, M.F.A.

Whether diving into complicated relationships or wrestling with family ties, the girls and women who populate this collection―misfits and misanthropes, bickering sisters, responsible daughters, and unhappy wives―don’t always find themselves making the best decisions.

A woman struggles with a new kind of love triangle when she moves in with a divorced dad. A lonely teenage beach attendant finds uneasy comradeship with her boss. A high school English teacher gets pushed to her limits when a student plagiarizes. Often caught between desire and duty, guilt and resentment, these characters discover what it means to get lost in love, and do what it takes to find themselves again.

Utterly singular and wholly unforgettable, Emma Duffy-Comparone’s stories manage to be slyly, wickedly funny at even their darkest turns and herald the arrival of an irreverent and dazzling new voice.

Dr. Ellen McWhorter

Intuitive knowledge, which is both mysterious and elusive when set against more dominant models of sense-making in the early 20th century, is critical to the representations of love and intimacy in Mina Loy’s famously controversial Love Songs to Joannes. The significance of Loy’s representations of intuition—or the desire to “mean” below the radar—manifests in the discursive antagonisms for which the poem is best known. As Love Songs strains under the weight of two conflicting world views, we come to see that Joannes’s cognitive and individualistic one stands in contrast with the speaker’s intuitive and embodied one. The division between scientific and intuitive modes of knowing occurs within a cultural moment whereby reason and fact came to be aligned with scientific and technological achievement, while being wholly cut off from ordinary human experience and its messier insights. For the speaker of the poem sequence, knowledge about the world gained and presented intuitively, through lived experience and through embodiment, cannot be straightforwardly articulated; for certain experiential truths to be shown at all, they must be made to function beyond the privileged ways of knowing and saying that structured the modern world.