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Academic women and writer's block: Mapping the terrain

Martha Trudeau Tucker, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study explores academic women's experience of writing and blocking through ethnographic interviews focusing on the women's history of writing in the academy, impediments to writing they have faced, and strategies they have used to write through blocks. Women in the humanities and social sciences at three-levels of academic accomplishment--master's students, doctoral students, and junior faculty--participated in hour-long interviews. Particular attention was given to the impact of the writer's academic and social context on her ability to compose. The results demonstrated that block, rather than a fixed entity, is a phenomenon that occurs along a continuum. It is affected by the individual's acculturation into the academy, including explicitness of cultural norms, her family and social life, the presence or absence of direct instruction in the discourse modes of her discipline, and the role and type of evaluation she has experienced in relation to her writing. Solutions and potential solutions for writing through block are discussed, as well as implications for future research in teaching, advising, and in the acculturation process of graduate students and junior faculty.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Composition|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Tucker, Martha Trudeau, "Academic women and writer's block: Mapping the terrain" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737590.