By Sasha Nasir
Writing Program lecturer Patricia Fancher was one of just seven scholars to win this year’s Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Emergent Researcher Award, which provides funding for early career researchers and writing faculty. The award money of $10,000 will be used for her project called “Early 20th Century Women Physicians Use of Print-Based Social Media: A Digital Humanities Study of the Women’s Medical Journal.”
Fancher’s research on 20th century women physicians aligns with her focus on feminist rhetoric, women's writing and writing in the sciences. She was a first generation college student and attributes much of her own success to the community of women who supported her and mentored her through her educational journey.
“It feels like a beautiful tribute to continue to study how other communities of women mentor and support each other,” Fancher said in a recent interview.
Fancher joined the UC Santa Barbara Writing Program in 2014 after earning her PhD at Clemson University, South Carolina in an interdisciplinary Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program. Prior to that, she attended Georgetown University for an MA in Communication, Culture and Technology. In addition to teaching and working on her research, Fancher is also currently the Director of Digital Media and Outreach for the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition, and she directs UCSB's Leadership and Advocacy Certificate Program.
Fancher is fulfilling the vision of UCSB’s Writing Program by approaching writing as not only a practice or a skill that one can cultivate, but also as a subject to study on its own. Fancher says she studies writing and texts to learn why writing itself is important and how people can improve as writers. “It’s similar to how a sociologist would study a particular social issue or a historian might study a particular historical period or person,” she said. Fancher anticipates that her own writing pedagogy and the way she teaches writing will also develop through her research.
By studying women’s medical journals and archives of their writing, Fancher wants to understand how female medical professionals, scientists and researchers support each other through writing. For these women in the 20th century medical field, working together was really important because they were involved in a field that tends to erase women’s contributions, Fancher said. Celebrating each other’s accomplishments during that time enabled these women to bravely speak out against sexism and its challenges, such as being denied access to resources in their training. Understanding the significance of these authors and their work, especially their work in communities, is important to Fancher because it puts community at the forefront. “The deeper a writer’s commitment and connection to their community, the deeper their investment in that writing is,” she explained.
Fancher and her grant were recognized in March at the 2018 CCCC convention for writing scholars in Kansas City, Missouri.
Sasha Nasir is a junior majoring in Feminist Studies at UCSB.