skip to main content columnskip to left navigation

Southern Appalachian Student Conference on Literature

Department of Literature and Language

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Emily Dotson will present "Victorian Daughters and Domestic Care Labor" 

Dr. Emily Dotson

Dr. Emily Dotson holds a PhD in English from the University of Kentucky, graduate certification in Gender and Women’s Studies, Critical Theory, and Digital Media and Composition, and professional certification in Scientific and Technical Writing and Grant Writing.  At the University of Kentucky, she taught in the STEM Honors Program, was Director of the Elbert C Ray eStudio, a writing and digital media studio for STEM students, and was the Faculty Instructional Coordinator for STEM Undergraduate Education. Dr. Dotson previously served as Assistant Director of the University of Kentucky Writing in the Disciplines Initiative and was Assistant Director of the Robert E. Hemenway Writing Center. She has more than two decades of experience in teaching, curriculum development, assessment, and Writing Program and Writing Center administration.  Currently at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise she is the Director of Wise Writes, a writing in the disciplines QEP and an Assistant Professor of English. She is co-founder of Lux, the journal of undergraduate scholarship. She has published and presented nationally and internationally in writing center administration, writing program administration, STEM writing education, assessment, feminist theory and Victorian literature.

"Victorian Daughters and Domestic Care Labor"

This presentation joins a vibrant conversation in the social sciences about the challenging nature of care labor as well as feminist discussions about the role of the daughter in Victorian culture.  It explores the literary presence of the middle class managing daughter in the Victorian home.  The managing daughter indicate social anxieties about the unclear and unstable role of daughters in the family, the physically and emotionally challenging work they, and all women, do, and the struggle for daughters to find a place in a family hierarchy, which is often structured not by effort or affection, but by proscribed traditional roles, which do not easily adapt to managing daughters, even if they are the ones holding the family together.  The managing daughter is a problem not accounted for in any conventional domestic structure or ideology so there is no role, no clear set of responsibilities and no boundaries that could, and arguably should, define her obligations, offer her opportunities for empowerment, or set necessary limits on the broad cultural mandate she has to comfort and care others. The extremes she is often pushed to reveals the stresses and hidden conflicts for authority and autonomy inherent in domestic labor without the iconic angel in the house rhetoric that so often masks the difficulties of domestic life for women.  She gains no authority or stability no matter how loving or even how necessary she is to a family because there simply is no position in the parental family structure for her. The managing daughter thus reveals a deep crack in the structure of the traditional Victorian family by showing that it often cannot accommodate, protect, or validate a loving non-traditional family member because it values traditional hierarchies over emotion or effort.

Previous Keynote Speakers

icon for left menu icon for right menu