by Alex Hartline '13
The inviting confines of the Alice Drum Women’s Center provided a fitting setting for my talk with Professor Beth Graybill. Professor Graybill is the director of the Center as well as Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies. Her personal writing style is indicative of her field. Prof. Graybill specializes in ethnographies, particularly those concerning the local Amish population. Her research relies on qualitative data, so her writing includes lots of descriptive detail. Providing “thick description”, an anthropological term for contextual description that holds meaning for an outsider, is a priority in her writing. Students of Prof. Graybill should be wary of informality—a common problem in ethnographic writing. Like many readers of student writing, Prof. Graybill appreciates revision and careful editing. Critical thinking is also key; always synthesize collected data and theory.