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Purdue University LibrariesAs the first installment of the 2017 Library Seminar series, Purdue University Libraries will host Purdue alumna Dr. Christine Masters Thursday, Feb. 23, for her talk, “Feminist Data Structures and Data Literacy.” Masters, who earned her Ph.D. in English rhetoric and composition from Purdue, will present her lecture from noon-1 p.m. (Feb. 23) in the SWAIM Instruction Center, located on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education (HSSE) Library (in Stewart Center).

Masters—whose dissertation is titled “Encounters Beyond the Interface: Data Structures, Material Feminisms, and Composition”—published the article “Women’s Ways of Structuring Data” in the November 2015 issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

“Just as infrastructures are often invisible, women’s roles within them traditionally have been rendered even more invisible. Whether or not it has been articulated with this particular vocabulary, a goal of feminism has been to make visible our ubiquitous cultural, political, social, and economic infrastructures and the roles of women within them. While infrastructures are usually transparent, the structures within them—including collections of data—can be more consciously designed from feminist perspectives,” Masters explained. “My talk will examine some of the rhetorical and cultural issues surrounding data literacy—a key term that I define as an understanding of how collections of data are compositions that involve rhetorical choices to include or exclude certain criteria. Especially in university settings, we need to understand how data literacy fits into the larger project of information literacy. Students should be encouraged to think about databases and data sets as culturally situated compositions that can either support or work against social justice issues. To this end, I propose ways that educators and information specialists can use rhetorical frameworks to encourage critical analysis of data resources.”

Masters is an assistant professor of English at Francis Marion University, and she coordinates the professional writing program there. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Washington and her M.A. from Western Illinois University.