Meet the Fellows: 2017 Women’s Studies Fellow Alexandra Magearu

The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies supports the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences whose work addresses women’s and gendered issues in interdisciplinary and original ways. The 2017 class of Fellows includes University of California, Santa Barbara, comparative literature doctoral candidate Alexandra Magearu. Ms. Magearu shares how her personal experiences have shaped her research and influenced her dissertation:

My work often lingers on the manner in which different individuals experience cultural displacement and disorientation. In these new and startling environments  they often must readjust their senses, assumptions, and behavioral habits. To some extent, this has been the result of my own experience as an immigrant, living for a while in Britain and now in the United States. It occurred to me, after being away from home for a while, that the very experience of being estranged from your home and your comfort zone brings forth at times a heightened awareness of your own implication in different cultural, social, and political dynamics. Being away from home enabled me to rediscover home in a foreign land, to reflect on my upbringing and the education I have received at home, to look at the history of my own country from very different perspectives and using other frameworks of knowledge. I don’t mean to idealize the experience of estrangement because it also comes with great uncertainty, personal and cultural uprooting, and a shattered sense of identity. Still, I often wonder whether I had to leave home in order to better understand myself.

Ms. Magearu’s dissertation is titled Phenomenologies of Embodiment in Transnational Arab Women’s Literature in French and English, and explores diasporic and minority Arab women’s literature in France, Britain, and the United States.


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