Dana Bisignani is an instructor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program at Purdue University. A doctoral candidate in Literature, she holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Purdue, and and M.A. and B.S. in English from Western Illinois University. Her research examines the reception of Denise Levertov’s political poetry and activism during the Vietnam Era, and on the transition from Old Left to New Left thinking of the relationship between art, politics, and gender. More broadly, her research interests include gender and militarization, women workers and globalization, the labor movement, and feminist pedagogy with an emphasis on service-learning.
She recently published a chapter on activist-apprentice pedagogy in Feminist Community Engagement: Achieving Praxis (Palgrave, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in several journals as well, including Slipstream, Cimarron, Crab Orchard Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. Her poem “Bankruptcy Hearing” was reprinted in Ted Kooser’s column American Life in Poetry in March 2010. She has been active in local and state-wide anti-racist activism and has also recently been involved in the fight to end sexual assault on college campuses. In Spring of 2013, she received the Berenice A. Carroll Award for Feminism, Peace, and Social Justice for her community service-learning work with her WGSS students.
Dana grew up in Worth, a suburb of Chicago’s industrial South Side, and has held a variety of jobs over the years to put herself through school and otherwise cobble together a living. She began by pet-sitting and dog-handling, teaching flute lessons, and mucking stalls. Since then she has cleaned and repaired driver’s ed films as an audio-visual library assistant; sold bras at Victoria’s Secret and cards at Hallmark; operated industrial Xerox machines and collated thousands of booklets at a copy center; worked as the marketing director for a women’s dance theater company in St. Louis; cleaned vacated apartments in a college town; taught at-risk campers how to use computer software; edited technical reports for the Indiana Department of Transportation; and prepared rotisserie chickens and sliced deli meat at the West Lafayette Marsh grocery.
She began her undergraduate degree as a music performance major, studying flute for almost 13 years. Eventually changing her major to English with a focus on secondary education, and began to write both poetry and non-fiction more seriously. Her current interests include American modernist art, vintage clothing and thrifting (the more she has to dig, the better), hiking, and knitting. She has binge-watched Breaking Bad and Mad Men and has a weakness for diners, pie, and Chicago deep-dish pizza. She aspires to one day own a couple of sheep, spin her own yarn, and grow a really killer garden.