Making Silence Tactile (Part 1)

My student, Corene Studstill, crocheted her final project for my class on silence and women. The class, called The Sounds of Silence: A Biodiversity of Mute and Quiet Women in a World of Brutal Noise,* has been a joy to teach. I’ve learned so much from my amazing students who had the option of writing a traditional research paper for the final grade or of doing a creative project with accompanying 2-page explanation. Corene, a master crocheter, made this gorgeous work of art now in my office.

Corene Studstill and I with her amazing crochet symbolizing our silence and women class
Corene Studstill and I with her amazing crochet symbolizing our silence and women class


As Corene explains, “I chose to make my own sort of wall tapestry….I started with the idea of purity, what was purity, and how I could represent purity through crocheting, which is my form of silent needlework. The concept I wanted to create was trying to show Philomela’s pleas for help, and how I could show this message.” After she explains her color and image choices, Corene concludes, “I would like to think that the tapestry Philomela made and the one I crocheted here have the same meanings. They are the plea for help and rescue to her sister….The tapestry to the unknowing eye means nothing; if one does not know the hidden meaning in every part of the this work, one cannot see the message it carries. The message had to be hidden so that it could be safely delivered to her sister Procne, and she could then escape her imprisonment.”


Thank you for not hiding your beautiful work and message from us, Corene!




* This is the course description:

This course looks at silent women, quiet women, and mute women. Sometimes their hush is self-imposed, other times it is violently forced upon them. Passing, they erase their race and gender orientation. Yet, even with their tongues cut out, women speak. Sexually violated, they insist on their story. Enslaved, they shape their ends. Philomela—raped and mutilated—survives as a mythic emblem of female voicelessness. Some texts we look at are modern novels that tell the stories of women denied their chance at speech—in feminist versions of Homer’s Odyssey, Beowulf, and Jane Eyre. In a variety of texts –from Roman myth, Icelandic saga, and medieval religious sign language texts to a cross-dressed female knight, victimized wife, and deaf nun—we will attempt to hear these quiet voices from the past and rowdily proclaim their vibrancy for their future.

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