Married; husband's name Walter.
Office—Department of English, College of Charleston, 26 Glebe St., Charleston, SC 29424. E-mail—piepmeiera.cofc.edi.
Academic and author. College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, assistant professor of English and director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program.
(Editor, with Rory Dicker) Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 2003.
Out in Public: Configurations of Women's Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Bitch Magazine, Skirt!, Newsday, and Scholar & Feminist Online. Coauthor of Web logs, including Baxter Sez and Girl with Pen.
An assistant professor of English at South Carolina's College of Charleston, Alison Piepmeier also serves as the college's director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program. She is a contributor to periodicals and journals, including Bitch Magazine, Skirt!, Newsday, and Scholar & Feminist Online. Piepmeier is the coauthor of two Web logs, including Baxter Sez and Girl with Pen.
Piepmeier edited her first book, Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, in 2003 with Rory Dicker. The book highlights the complexities of the "third wave" concept of feminism and gives voices to its many variants and approaches. The contributions to the account are less rigorous in stereotyping and definitions of what constitutes feminism and its "third wave" than previously published "second wave" accounts. However, the book shows that "third wave" feminists are not as self-involved as many critics charge, by showing that many elements of the "second wave" or older feminist forms are still a central element to those identifying themselves as "third wave."
A contributor to Women in Action commented that the book "is an engaging, often edgy, look at a broad range of perspectives on the diversity, complexity, multiplicity and playfulness of the third wave." Andi Zeisler, writing in the Women's Review of Books, claimed that "Dicker and Piepmeier have compiled a more or less balanced group of essays." Zeisler warned, however, that "like many anthologies, Catching a Wave is uneven. Contributors work hard to identify and define feminism for themselves—not by how it aligns with or differs from movements that came before. However, I found myself wondering nonetheless if the time they spent defining what the third wave is or isn't could have been better directed." Zeisler concluded that "it's too soon to tell whether Catching a Wave will define new-generation feminism the way Walker's or Findlen's anthologies did, but if the book makes one point clear, it's that feminism need not define its successes—or failures—solely by what's come before it. As a snapshot of feminism circa 2003, Catching a Wave offers a lot of hope, a lot of encouragement, and the same galvanizing potential that has made feminism, in all its incarnations, a movement that remains as vital as ever." Melody Ballard, reviewing Catching a Wave in Library Journal, said that "the book is well organized and detailed and contains an extensive bibliography." Ballard "recommended" the book for inclusion in all public libraries, adding that it is an "essential" edition for academic libraries.
Piepmeier published her second book, Out in Public: Configurations of Women's Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America, in 2004. From a poststructuralist perspective, Piepmeier looks into the public display of women's bodies in an attempt to define the various meanings of womanhood from within the nineteenth century. She chooses five cases studies, the lives of five women, including the actress and playwright Anna Cora Mowatt, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth, writer Ida B. Wells, and editor Sarah Josepha Hale. Each woman, through written records, brings her own perspective on nineteenth-century womanhood.
Theresa Kaminski, writing in the Historian, remarked that Piepmeier's writing "suffers from repetitiveness and the clumsy habit of the author of telling the reader what she is going to do." Kaminski observed that theorists and certain scholars would "feel comfortable with her jargon-laden style and poststructuralist approach. Others will not," calling it "a shame that" the author's "writing style requires a reader to slog through so much to get to some" ideas that are interesting. Patricia Okker, writing in Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, mentioned that "one of the many strengths of this book is its rich interdisciplinarity," continuing to say that "this emphasis on cultural contexts and polyvocalism undergirds Piepmeier's boldest accomplishment—the dismantling of the still popular nineteenth-century binaries of public and private, agent and victim. Rather than completely abandoning these dichotomies, Piepmeier instead targets their instabilities." Okker summarized that "the collective result of these five case studies is an often surprising view of nineteenth-century woman-hood, one that avoids the stereotypes of domesticated woman and defiant rebel. Most important, Piepmeier's work demonstrates the extent to which nineteenth-century women responded strategically to the varying and often competing discourses surrounding them."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February 1, 2006, Amy G. Richter, review of Out in Public: Configurations of Women's Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America, p. 177.
American Literature, March 1, 2006, Susan K. Harris, review of Out in Public, p. 185.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 2004, N.B. Rosenthal, review of Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, p. 999.
Feminist Teacher, spring, 2006, Lisa Cochran Higgins, review of Out in Public, p. 153.
Historian, spring, 2006, Theresa Kaminski, review of Out in Public, p. 161.
Journal of American History, December 1, 2005, Angela M. Howard, review of Out in Public, p. 990.
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, June 1, 2005, Patricia Okker, review of Out in Public, p. 211.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Melody Ballard, review of Catching a Wave, p. 141.
Reviews in American History, September 1, 2005, Ann Marie Nicolosi, review of Out in Public, p. 372.
Signs, summer, 2006, Kimberly Springer, review of Catching a Wave, p. 1151.
Women in Action, August 1, 2003, review of Catching a Wave, p. 61.
Women's Review of Books, June 1, 2003, Andi Zeisler, review of Catching a Wave, p. 4.
Alison Piepmeier Home Page,http://alisonpiepmeier.com (April 21, 2008), author biography.
College of Charleston, Department of English Web site,http://www.cofc.edu/~english/ (April 21, 2008), author profile.