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Rebecca Mercado Thornton

“Language defines us as human beings. We speak, therefore we exist.”
—Jay Parini, Why Poetry Matters


I engaged with 18 women using life history interviewing with those whose families have lived in Appalachian Ohio for at least two generations. I am most interested in how women narrate their life experiences and how those narrations reflect or reject the monolithic, and dangerously ubiquitous, stereotypical images of Appalachian women. I asked the women questions across life domains such as childhood, schooling, marriage, tragedy, and triumph, but most paramount, the mundane. The three broad research questions that drove this study were: 1. How do women in Appalachian Ohio narrate their life experiences across biographical time? 2. What are the self-stories that women tell about their individual identity that situate them into the larger culture? 3. Through a reflexive analysis, what do my participants’ narratives teach me about being a woman in Appalachia?


  • B.A., Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, Central Michigan University - Mt. Pleasant, MI (2008)
  • Doctorate of Philosophy, Communication Studies, Ohio University- Athens, OH (Anticipated June 2012); Primary Area: Rhetoric and Public Culture Track; Secondary Area: Gender and Race Studies

Academic and Professional Appointments:

  • Graduate Teaching Instructor: School of Communication Studies, (2008-present)
  • Editorial Assistant: Quarterly Journal of Speech, (2010-2011)
  • Academic Adviser: Office of Minority Student Services – Central Michigan University, MI, (2007-2008)

Recent Awards and Honors:

  • Judy C. Pearson Graduate Award (Awarded to a graduate student who does outstanding research in gender or family communication).
  • Dorothy and Larry Schey Endowed Scholarship (Awarded to a graduate student who is demonstrating leadership and service to the community).
  • Office of International Education Travel Grant, Honduras (2011)
  • Graduate Student Senate Original Work Grant, Colombia (2009)