Abigail L. Palko '10

Author: Andrea Martinez Dominguez

Abigail Palko S13

Graduation year: 2010

Majors/Minors: PhD in Literature, Graduate Minor in Gender Studies


I defended my dissertation, entitled “Motherhood, Declined: Negotiating Maternal Subjectivities in Irish and Caribbean Novels, 1934-2007,” in December 2009 and will graduate in May 2010 with the Ph.D. in Literature and a graduate minor in Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame. My research interests include women’s transatlantic writing in the Anglophone and francophone traditions, especially from Ireland and the Caribbean, and I have published articles on Dorothy Macardle and Maeve Brennan. I have also taught classes on the mother-daughter relationship in 20th c. Irish fiction, Caribbean women’s novels, Introduction to Gender Studies, and Jane Eyre and its literary and film adaptations.   Because I work on 20th c. novels, especially women's writing, I've found that Gender Studies gives me the theoretical framework through which to view the texts I'm reading/analyzing. In a particularly lovely bit of fortuitous timing, I took the Core Seminar during the semester that I was struggling to map out the theoretical framework of my dissertation. In the process of writing my final paper for the course, I realized how my dissertation should be organized. Making the necessary deletions and additions produced the coherent argument I been searching for, enabling me to write a dissertation that I now find exciting to read.


Current occupation: Director of Undergraduate Studies, GeNDer Studies Program, University of Notre Dame


Favorite Gender Studies class/professor/memory from your experience at Notre Dame:

There was a moment in the middle of the Core Grad Seminar when I realized I needed to scrap most of what I had already done for my dissertation and refocus it. It was one of the scariest and most authentic intellectual moments of my life... and the result was fantastic! I wrote a dissertation that I'm still deeply proud of and that truly engages with the ways the women writers of the Caribbean and Ireland negotiate the concept of the Good Mother.


How your Gender Studies education has impacted your life:

The grad minor literally led me to the position I'm in now, serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the GeNDer Studies Program. And because I'm sitting here in 325 O'Shag, I have the privilege of advising, listening to, and conversing with the insightful students who come to Gender Studies. Everyday, I get to talk about gender!


Your hopes for the future of Gender Studies at Notre Dame:

I hope that our students continue to spread the word about gender issues, driving the conversation.