Student Spotlight August 2012
Amy Lueck received a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Loyola University Chicago in 2006, and an M.A. in English from University of Pittsburgh in 2010. In between those degrees, she had a brief affair with an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program at University of Memphis while teaching 4th grade with Teach for America. Amy is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition at UofL.
Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):
I research nineteenth-century gendered literacies and instruction in the U.S. Though I’m not quite sure how I became interested in the nineteenth-century originally, I chose to focus on this area of research for my dissertation because I find archival work really exciting and rewarding, and there is a lot of work yet to be done in telling the story of nineteenth-century women’s literacies and learning.
How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?
Because no one seems to have heard of the field of Rhetoric and Composition outside academe, I’ve had quite a bit of practice describing my field, and I’ve found the easiest way to make sense of it is to say I study writing and the teaching of writing. My specific area of research centers on U.S. women’s education and writing of the nineteenth century, especially looking at the ways people (policy makers, writers) thought about and talked about gendered literacy and learning--not just what they did or did not do in the classroom.
Awards, honors, publications:
I graduated summa cum laude, and with departmental and university honors from Loyola, and received the Gerriets Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. At UofL, I am the recipient of the University of Louisville Graduate Fellowship. I have published an article entitled “Writing Without Sound” in the Spring 2011 issue of Currents in Electronic Literacy and have a webtext forthcoming in Kairos, both of which use closed captioning to think about composition instruction and language politics in the U.S. I also have a response to Jeanne Gunner’s recent Thomas R. Watson Symposium paper forthcoming in Journal of Advanced Composition.
Long-term goals/ aspirations:
I hope and plan to attain a tenure-track faculty position at a 4-year liberal arts university.
What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?
Though I have much to be proud of academically, I think I am most proud of my experience teaching fourth grade in Memphis, Tennessee through Teach For America. Spending seven hours a day with more than 30 energetic young learners was a tremendous challenge, as any schoolteacher well knows, but I am very proud of the work my students and I did together.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
I think the greatest challenge graduate students face is trying to strike that illusive “balance” between your ambitious scholarly goals and your personal projects and relationships. I often feel the pressure to do more--read more, write more, publish more--and don’t feel like I can allow myself the time for that craft project I’ve been planning, or that trip I’ve been hoping to take with my fiancée. Of course, everyone takes breaks, has periods of unproductivity, has periods of absolute stasis, even--but those don’t always constitute balance. For me, those are often what happens when you haven’t balanced--you cancelled that trip because you didn’t have time, only to find yourself watching an entire season of Army Wives in one afternoon instead. Balance is hard, but I’m trying to let myself enjoy my breaks guilt-free rather than push myself until any break becomes a recovery. As Karen Kopelson, one of my mentors in English, would say about work-life balance, it’s important to strive for it, but it is also important to acknowledge that we don’t always do it well. I am trying to do better, but I’m also going to let myself do it poorly sometimes.
I have two cats that live in complete disharmony with my fiancée and me in the Highlands. I will be getting married in October.
A talent you have always wanted: To be able to dance, especially to tap dance. The closest I come is step aerobics.
Favorite book: Currently, I would have to say the Hunger Games books, but that is probably just because they’re freshest in my mind. My favorite book is usually the one that I was reading most recently.
Role Model: My older sister. I have always looked up to her, and will always love seeing the world through her experiences.
Pet Peeve: When people talk over each other or cut people off when speaking, especially in class.
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Probably teaching. I’ve always considered going back to do Montessori training, so perhaps I would go do that and be a kindergarten teacher.