Professor Abby Wilkerson

Associate Professor of Writing | Rome 560 | 202.994.0207

Abby Wilkerson grew up in Idalou, Texas. Her loyalty to her home state remains constant, even though she, like the Texas legislators who left the state to prevent quorum on a discriminatory redistricting bill, sometimes finds it necessary to be away, most recently in her case for nearly twenty years.

Before leaving Texas, Abby studied English and Philosophy at Texas Tech University, and co-founded the Buffalo Writers Collective (where she workshopped her poetry) and the Yellow House Press, an alternative newspaper. Her duties there included editing the poetry feature, writing music and film reviews and food columns, and negotiating fees and deadlines, once in the hospital with a typesetter whose legs had both been broken by gangsters. She continues to use all of these skills in her teaching, where fortunately the need for extended deadlines is seldom as extreme as in this case. While at TTU she also gave birth to her daughter Lauren, became friends with Pat, who is now her life partner, and studied and taught Composition.

Abby received her Ph.D. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1995. As a teacher of philosophy, she came to believe that teaching writing is not separate from teaching thinking. Her book Diagnosis: Difference: The Moral Authority of Medicine (Cornell University Press, 1998) focuses on health care as social control for those perceived as different, particularly in relation to gender and sexuality. A GWU Bender Teaching Award recipient, she has taught here since 1993, initially in the Writing Program, later in Women’s Studies as well, and has participated in both the Queer Theory and the Disability Studies Reading Groups. Her current projects are (1) Refusing Diagnosis, on the ethical, cultural, and political significance of groups who have organized in order to resist a diagnosis; and (2) trying to remember how to integrate poetry writing into academic life.