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Dr. Gail Corning (MA 1989, PhD 1999)

Gail Corning     Imagine this: you have finally decided to back up your dissertation chapters to keep them safe. You highlight the relevant files, push a button, and suddenly the whole thing is gone. Dr. Gail Corning (1989 MA, 1999 PhD) will never forget the day she found herself in this very predicament. She was carefully selecting the relevant chapters when everything disappeared. Panic ensued. And then it was decision time. Tech support told her not to turn off the computer. Dr. Neil Randall told her to turn off the computer and bring it to him. She held her breath and chose Door Number Two. Dr. Randall took the computer, asked a frantic Gail to leave and, using his magical powers, recovered her thesis. She is grateful for his help to this day.

     When Gail first came to UW, she thought that critical theory was just a method for "bending literature to your will." Yet she had always been interested in hegemony without knowing the name for it and remembers Professor Judy Segal as a wonderful teacher who helped her realize through her courses in rhetoric that its study provided a theory and practice one could live by: "Learning rhetorical theory was the most important lesson I could take away because it gives me an incredibly useful framework from which to look at the world."

Dr. Gail Corning     For years after completing her undergraduate degree, Gail worked as Director of Development for the K-W Symphony before deciding to pursue her master’s degree. During the application process, “Dr. Gordon Slethaug's secretary, Diana, was so welcoming and reassuring that I thought, "Why don't I do this?" Gail was one of the first students to enter the English doctorate program at UW. She fondly remembers some of her peers, Philippa Spoel, Alice den Otter, and Randi Patterson, who were a fabulous, supportive group of friends. Professor Dave Goodwin was important to her graduate studies. She loved being in his classes because Dr. Goodwin was not only dynamic at synthesizing a wide range of classical and modern theory, but also was energized by the conversations with his students. "I never would have finished my dissertation without his insightful, invaluable help."

     From start to finish, it took Gail ten years to complete her master's and doctorate degrees. While pursuing her degrees, she taught as a TA and went away with her husband on his sabbatical term. She defended her doctoral thesis just before her 60th birthday.

     After graduation, Gail began teaching as a sessional the Contemporary Rhetoric course in UW's English Department and later taught writing courses, including ENGL 210F (Business Writing), as well as a Short Story course. She now works in the Department of Drama and Speech Communication teaching SPCOM 223 (Public Speaking). "At this stage in my life, this is what I want to do. I will probably keep it up until I cannot walk anymore. Infusing rhetorical theory into my teaching helps students understand that communicating is not about them, but about their audience. Those who grasp this concept gain a valuable lifelong skill."