Sean Yeager recipient of the 2022-2023 Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship
The Department of English is excited to announce that PhD student, Sean Yeager, is a recipient of the Graduate School’s 2022-2023 Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship (AGGRS). Recipients of these grants are awarded each year during the autumn semester.
The AGGRS provides post candidacy and terminal master’s degree candidates with small grants of up to $5,000. Eligible applications are reviewed by the Graduate School Awards Committee, which is made up of faculty from various disciplines, and then award recommendations are made by the committee to the Dean of the Graduate School for the final decision. These awards are based on four main criteria: the project's quality, qualifications of the applicant, the evaluation of the candidate and project by advisor and the budget and needs of the candidate. These grants must be of essential use for a candidate's dissertation or thesis.
For Sean Yeager’s project, he will be researching how autistic people experience time with the awarded amount of $4,500. The research method for this project will be narrative-based and is rooted in interpersonal connection. Yeager will conduct this research through interviews that will require participants to be familiar with certain narratives like Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 or Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life. Through the shared knowledge of these narratives, Yeager wishes to create a collective, accessible and creative language. This language will be used to discuss participants' impressions of the texts. These impressions will allow Yeager to ask participants about the texts’ portrayal of time. Further discussion will work to relate these observations back to participants’ own experiences.
Yeager hopes that this project will “give more insight into autistic experiences than the dehumanizing methods which currently dominate autism research.” As Yeager describes in their application, autistic people are often treated as “inert curiosities, rather than active collaborators,” when it comes to academic settings and interviews. Yeager hopes to soothe the anxieties of prospective participants, by communicating the questions before the interview and having flexibility with the mode of communication for each interview. Furthermore, Yeager will work to include a diverse range of participants and will call for self-identified autistic adults, as autistic people must often deal with an abundance of stigma and an absence of medical care.
Through this research, Yeager seeks to provide a better understanding of research methods that can be used when working with autistic people. Yeager also hopes to benefit the research participants and help them gain a new understanding of how they move through the world.
Yeager is incredibly grateful for the support and recognition of his work through receiving this grant. “The AGGRS is an opportunity to give back to my community, and that means the world to me,” Yeager says.
Congratulations to Sean Yeager on this exciting achievement!