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Corey Hickner-Johnson

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Curriculum Vitae:

Research Interests

20-21st-century Literature, Intersectional Feminist Cultural Studies, Disability Studies, Affect and Feminist Politics of Emotion, Public Scholarship, and Culturally Responsive Teaching

I am a doctoral candidate in English and a certificate holder in Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies.  At this stage in my career, I am writing my dissertation, Out of The Attic: Mental Disability, Neurodiversity, and Contemporary Women’s Writing. My dissertation examines how contemporary women’s writing reframes understandings of mental disability—often called “madness”—in raced, classed, gendered, and (dis)abled experiences. My move away from “madness” and towards “mental disability” reflects my focus on how social logics and medical-industrial systems produce mental disability, while arguing for literary study as a way to better understand disability as a lived experience. I push beyond Gilbert and Gubar’s “madwoman in the attic” archetypes, reading Claudia Rankine’s poetry, Joyce Carol Oates’s and Dorothy Allison’s novels, and Amy Bloom’s short stories in order to consider race, class, and sexuality across a range of feminine and nonbinary experiences with mental disability in the contemporary era. Out of the Attic is the first monograph-length project to consider madness through an intersectional feminist disability studies framework.

My work has appeared in/on the Journal of International Women’s Studies, U.S. Studies, Feminist Studies, Modern Language Studies, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Feminist Teacher, Feministing, The Star Tribune, and many other venues. My article, “Not With the Program: Sandra Cisneros on Feeling and Being a Latina Writer in the Program Era” will soon be published in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. I have presented at the National Women’s Studies Conference, the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, MMLA, and NeMLA. I will present the fourth chapter of my dissertation on Amy Bloom’s short story “Silver Water,” paranoid schizophrenia, and the Medical-Industrial Complex at the MLA convention in January 2019.

I am a Ballard Seashore Fellow, a Jane A. Weiss and Prairie Lights Scholar, an Obermann Fellow, and a recipient of an Outstanding Teaching Award and the Lydia Maria Child Society Award for Social Justice.

Hand-in-hand with my scholarship, I enjoy teaching and mentoring students. I have designed courses such as “Feminist Spectators,” “Literary Misfits: Disability and Difference in Literature,” and “Looking for America,” as well as generalist courses including “Speaking and Reading,” and “Rhetoric.” I have also worked at the UIowa Speaking Center where I instructed undergraduate students, graduate students, and visiting scholars with English language concerns and rhetorical organization.

Before coming to the University of Iowa, I was a middle school language arts teacher for six years. In that setting, I was trained in culturally responsive teaching from The National Urban Alliance, and I have carried that work into the college classroom. I earned my MA in English from the University of Saint Thomas in 2012 and my BA in English and Education from the College of Saint Benedict in 2007.

You can learn more about me on my website at