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Shrodes Wins AAUW Dissertation Fellowship

November 12, 2021
Addie Shrodes
Shrodes' dissertation examines how 21 trans and queer teens participate on social media platforms.

Graduate student Addie Shrodes has received a highly competitive American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to support her work looking at how trans and queer teens learn critical digital literacies through everyday activities on social media.

Shrodes, a PhD candidate in learning sciences, finds that social media is an important context for marginalized young people to develop communities and learn about power, privilege, and oppression. She argues that trans and queer youth develop practices to identify, resist, and transform relations of power in society and technologies through routine digital activities.

Her dissertation examines how 21 trans and queer teens participate on social media platforms, such as Tik Tok, Twitter and YouTube. By drawing on sociocultural, queer, and critical disability frameworks, she expands the study of critical digital literacies from a focus on youth resistance to include “complementary practices of humor, hope, and joy that sustain members of marginalized communities in struggle and open other possibilities for social and political life,” she said. These practices of livability arise out of necessity yet offer windows into possible elsewhere, or expansive ways of being and organizing life.

Shrodes hopes her research will help other researchers and educators better understand the importance of these newly defined critical literacies that help teens who persistently encounter oppressive beliefs around race, gender, sexuality, and disability visualize a positive future.

Shrodes is the second SESP student to win the highly selective $20,000 AAUW American fellowship, which supports graduate students during the final year of dissertation writing. Lindsay Till Hoyt (PhD13), assistant professor at Fordham University, received the award in 2012. Also that year, Rayane Alamuddin (PhD15), associate director for research and evaluation at Ithaka S+R, received the AAUW international fellowship.

Shrodes attended community college in Southeast Michigan before earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her master’s in English literature and urban humanities from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her interest in literacy and learning in LGBTQ+ digital culture was sparked her own experience in social media spaces, as well by her wide-ranging professional background, which includes designing digital movement building campaigns for national non-profits, aiding a regional government agency strive to create youth pathways to public planning decisions, and helping a National Public Radio program find new ways to tell stories about the environment.

In 2021, Shrodes was selected to participate in the fifth-annual Curriculum Inquiry Writing Fellowship, where she developed a chapter of her dissertation that is under review as an article with the journal.

Last year, she won the Best Paper Award from the Literacy Research Association’s Area 10, Literacy Technology & Media. In 2019, her writing was honored again when she received the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper award from Writing & Literacies Special Interest Group at the American Educational Research Association.

Shrodes was selected for the AAUW award in part because of her feminist and anti-racist approaches to teaching and her service and mentorship at Northwestern as a leader in the LGBTQ+ student community. From 2018-20 she served as president of the Queer Pride Graduate Student Association and a board member for the Multicultural Student Affairs LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

She was the first SESP doctoral student to pursue a graduate certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the first to serve as a graduate teaching assistant in the GSS program. As part of the Gender and Sexuality Studies teaching assistantship in 2021-2022, she designed and taught an upper-level seminar titled “Everyday Resistance and Reimagination” as Instructor of Record.

Shrodes is the Graduate Student Committee co-chair for the Queer Studies Special Interest Group of American Educational Research Association. Her work has been published in Reading Research Quarterly and the edited volume, Genders, Cultures & Literacies: Understanding Intersecting Identitiesand featured on the International Literacy Association blog Literacy Now.

Shrodes’ dissertation committee includes Wan Shun Eva Lam, associate professor of learning sciences; Jolie Matthews, assistant professor of learning sciences; Carol Lee, professor emerita; and Mollie Blackburn, professor of teaching and learning at The Ohio State University.

Founded in 1881, AAUW is one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women, due to the generosity and legacy of generations of AAUW members.