Feature Story

OWU Professor Writes about ‘Emoji Feminism’ in NYT

March 14, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Amy Butcher’s creative writing earns the OWU faculty member exposure in The New York Times and accolades for penning the ‘Best Travel Story of the Year.’ (Photo by Carmen Machado)

Amy Butcher, M.F.A, also Earns Best Travel Writing Award 

If you’d like to congratulate Ohio Wesleyan University’s Amy Butcher on publishing an opinion column in the March 13 New York Times or on winning ‘Best Travel Story of the Year’ in the 2016 Solas Awards, consider posting a penguin emoji in your social media message. 

As Butcher points out in her New York Times column, “Emoji Feminism,” almost no digital icons exist to honor strong, accomplished women. When Butcher wanted to congratulate a hard-working friend on earning tenure, she used images of a flamenco dancer and unicorn, but struggled to find something more meaningful. When she met up with the friend, they discussed the digital dilemma. 

“Scrolling through the options, we rejected the dancer and the unicorn and, in lieu of anything else, settled on a penguin,” writes Butcher, an OWU assistant professor of English since 2014.

“My friend was, we agreed, a penguin,” she continues. “Not a creature of mythical imagination, but something real. I’d read, I told her, a recent report about several hundred thousand penguins trapped by a collapsed glacier in Antarctica. Thousands had died, but the ones that survived did so only through perseverance — regularly traveling some 40 miles across barren nothingness to reach the ocean. 

“She, and the women like her, we agreed, were creatures that persevered like crazy, and often against all odds.” 

Like her friend, Butcher also perseveres: And for her efforts, she was honored recently with the 2016 Solas Award for “Best Travel Story of the Year,” chosen by the editors of Travelers’ Tales

Butcher earned the honor for “Flight Behavior,” described by the editors as a “lyrical account of migrations both of Sandhill cranes and people and what they reveal about life in North America.” Butcher’s competition included more than 200 entries in 21 categories. Over time, winning stories will be posted on the Travelers’ Tales Great Stories page, with many appearing in future books. 

Butcher also is the author of “Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder,” a memoir based on the tragedy of a college friend who fatally stabbed his ex-girlfriend. 

Her academic interests include contemporary American essays, memoir, narrative essays, travel writing, and flash prose. Learn more about Butcher, Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of English, and the university’s creative writing major at www.owu.edu/english.