Semotiuk Dissertation Focuses on Time and Space for Women to Write

April 13, 2019 | Education | Malcolm Shaw

Nancy Semotiuk, Walla Walla University associate professor of communication, has successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, “Women Writers: Safekeeping Time and Space to Write.”

In her dissertation, Semotiuk examined the difficulties some women have in giving themselves time and permission to write.

“From my own experience, I knew that women writers struggle with the roles in their lives — wife, mother, employee and nurturer — and run out of time and energy to do their creative work,” says Semotiuk. “It’s not a matter of writer’s block or time management. Rather, the issues run deeper. They are social and cultural in nature.”

Semotiuk used practiced-based research to write a creative dissertation comprised of a mystery novel and contextualizing document that investigated what it means to fashion a time and space where writing can be done. Her research indicates traditional advice about making time to write assumes a woman should be able to control her daily schedule. She explained how traditional advice does not adequately take into consideration the social and cultural dynamics that affect women writers.

“Women are reminded daily, in a million different little ways, that, unlike food and shelter, writing is not a basic human need,” says Semotiuk. “So, most of the time, a woman’s desire to write is superseded by her life circumstances.”

“I learned that circumstances — slow-to-change cultural traditions, critical attitudes, limited spheres of publishing opportunities, gender hierarchy that still affect the reception and evaluation of women’s work, even subject matter acceptance constraints — make writing success more difficult for women than it is for men,” says Semotiuk.

Semotiuk received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in interdisciplinary studies with a major in humanities and culture and a certificate in creative writing from Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.