Hello, again, and welcome BACK to the 255! We, here at HUMSOC, are thrilled to be back online and keeping you posted on all things related to the Humanities and Social Sciences. As we near the end of the semester, we want to share with you all the amazing work our faculty has been up to! We have brought together some highlights of a variety of faculty work across the Division. From medieval literature to gender and development in Rwanda, this post will give you the 411 on our work here at the 255! Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Professor Jennifer Brown, Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences Division and Professor of Writing, Literature, and Language, had multiple essays published this semester and co-edited a book on medieval devotional traditions! First, editors Michelle Sauer and Jenny Bledsoe brought together a multitude of works addressing a variety of anchoritic texts that explore reclusion and materiality, spanning from the eighth through the fourteenth centuries. Released on the 31st of October, Sauer and Bledsoe’s The Materiality of Middle English Anchoritic Devotion features an essay by Professor Brown entitled “The Material of Vernacular English Devotion: Temptation and Sweetness in Ancrene Wisse and Richard Rolle’s Form of Living.” In Brown’s essay she examines how language about the material world describes the spiritual world, and, further, how language evolves throughout medieval devotional texts. Additionally, Professor Brown co-edited a book with Nicole Rice entitled Manuscript Culture and Medieval Devotional Traditions: Essays in Honour of Michael G. Sargent which explores the great religious and devotional works of the Middle Ages in their manuscript and other contexts. The essays center around the work of Michael Sargent and pay tribute to his influence on devotional texts and the books in which they appeared over time. To learn more about Professor Brown’s work, you can find her essays in the links below. A big congratulations to Professor Brown for her publications and dedication to researching such a fascinating and complex topic.

  • Manuscript Culture and Medieval Devotional Traditions: Essays in Honour of Michael G. Sargent (here)
  • The Materiality of Middle English Anchoritic Devotion (here)

This next faculty feature demonstrates the diversity of work of our faculty here at HUMSOC. Professor Sharon Meagher, Professor of Philosophy and former Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at MMC, served as a contributing editor to and her work is featured in a book entitled Gender and Learning in Rwanda. The book, released in November of this year, provides an account of “the establishment of an innovative and culture-shifting approach to leading and managing culture change in Rwanda, following the devastating Genocide of 1994.” Additionally, the book recounts the formation of the first Gender, Culture, and Development Master’s Program at the Kigali Institute of Education, to which Professor Meagher was a founding leader and faculty member. The establishment of this educational program in Kigali is essential to development of a more inclusive society which supports and empowers women as leaders, both in Rwanda and worldwide. We, here at HUMSOC, couldn’t be prouder of Professor Meagher’s contribution to the creation of such a vital program. To find out more about Professor Meagher’s work, check out the link to the book below! Congratulations to Professor Meagher for the publication of the book!

  • Gender and Learning in Rwanda (here)

Our next faculty feature returns to the world of literature to explore the global legacies of the French Revolution! Professor Cecilia Feilla, Associate Professor of Writing, Literature, and Language, has recently been published both in peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as book chapters. Professor Feilla’s research interests include 18th-century literature, drama and performance theory, genre studies, urban literature, and the literature of revolution. Her article, “Future Perfect History: Historiography and Republican Space-Time in French Revolutionary Theater” was recently published in the New Literary History journal. Feilla’s research explores the 1793 play, L’Heureuse Décade, and argues that the piece “represents not the spectacle of history or current events, but the spectacle of a new historiography in the making.” Further, Feilla’s article reveals that L’Heureuse Décade creates a reimagined historical paradigm that “presents a complex thinking of history’s relationship to the people, the everyday, and the future to posit a notion of history that lies ahead of France, not behind.” Second, Professor Feilla also has another publication entitled “Crypts, Corpses, and Living Tombs on Stage during the French Revolution: Crises of Burial and Mourning” that will be featured as a chapter in Last Scene of All: Representing Death on the Western Stage edited by Jessica Goodman. To learn more about Professor Feilla’s awesome works check out the links below! A huge congratulations to Professor Feilla on her accomplishments.

  • Future Perfect History: Historiography and Republican Space-Time in French Revolutionary Theater” New Literary History 52.1 (2021): 27-51. (here)
  • “Crypts, Corpses, and Living Tombs on Stage during the French Revolution: Crises of Burial and Mourning” In Last Scene of All: Representing Death on the Western Stage, Ed. Jessica Goodman, Legenda (forthcoming 2021)

Our last faculty feature today highlights the work of Professor Hannah Bacon. Professor Bacon, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Ferraro Fellow in Prison Education and Public Philosophy, recently published her article, “The intersubjective responsibility of durational trauma: Contributions of Bergson and Levinas to the philosophy of trauma,” in Continental Philosophy Review 2021. In Bacon’s article, she outlines a “genealogy to trace the emergence of what is now the dominant temporal framework of psychological catastrophe,” and “supplement this evental nosology with a durational consideration of trauma by drawing on the works of Henri Bergson and his articulation of duration, memory, and lived experience.” Further, Bacon adds a new perspective to this field of study by “draw[ing] on Levinas and his intersubjective ethics drawing out the relevancy his work has for this concept of durational trauma.” Her work pushes these fields forward by combining the studies of Bergson and Levinas together, and to a larger degree, the fields of “philosophy of trauma and ethical responsibility and temporality of ongoing systematic harm.” To learn more about Bacon’s work and read her article, check out the link below! Another huge congratulations to Professor Bacon. Her interdisciplinary studies demonstrate a key value of the HUMSOC Division!

  • “The intersubjective responsibility of durational trauma: Contributions of Bergson and Levinas to the philosophy of trauma” in Continental Philosophy Review (here)

Thank you to all the professors who eagerly shared their work for this semester’s faculty feature round-up. It is always a pleasure to see the research projects and publications of our tremendous HUMSOC faculty. Next semester, we look forward to bringing you monthly faculty features to continue to highlight the essential work of our Division. Thank you for joining us here on the 255, we are so excited to be bringing you back content. As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and stay warm throughout this winter season. We here at HUMSOC wish you all the happiest of holidays!

Welcome back to the 255! We, here at HUMSOC, hope all your semesters are off to a fabulous start. As the semester is well under way, we wanted to highlight an ongoing event series that jump-started this academic year. Professor Lauren Brown, Chair of the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies Department, coordinated a special event series entitled “II + 20” to reflect on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This interdisciplinary series has brought together faculty from all over the MMC community, including Professors from the Dance, Psychology, Theatre Arts, and Communication Arts Departments. To get the inside scoop on the inspiration and collaborative process that led to II + 20, we took the time to interview Professor Lauren Brown herself! Check out what she had to say below.

What was the inspiration for the II + 20 September Event Series?

Earlier this year the faculty noted we were coming up on the 20th anniversary of 9.11.  We realized that while this is a moment we will never forget, for our students this was a moment they did not remember–because they had not been born.  Yet we’ve seen how radically that day shaped both the world our students grew up in and the city they now call home.  

What are you hoping to accomplish with this series?

We wanted to mark the anniversary with conversation–talking and thinking about what changed and what didn’t.  We couldn’t know, when we started planning this months ago, that the week before school began the United States would, after twenty years, finally leave Afghanistan.  These discussions feel even more important given so.  We did know, obviously, that the world was still navigating a pandemic–I’ve heard students say COVID-19 feels more important to them than 9.11.  But they aren’t separate.  New York was an epicenter for both and both changed the city.  It’s our job as scholars to compare these events and think about how crisis impacts our communities–we must learn so as to do better.

To what coursework, this semester, do these events relate?

The II + 20 September Series: The City Since became an amazing collaboration with faculty across the college, intending to engage students from a wide range of programs.  Some of our writing professors are dedicating their semester coursework to reading 9.11 literature and writing themed essays.  Theatre Professor Kenny Finkle had an alumna, Kellie Diodato ’21, who completed a play on 9.11 last year (which she’d begun in Creative Writing Professor Jerry William’s class in an earlier semester).  With directing by alum and Theatre Adjunct Richard Hutzler, Kellie’s work will get a featured reading as part of the series.  Other professors are hosting guest lectures—my American Foreign Relations course will host legal scholar Dr. Lawrence Cappello, speaking on the radical alteration of privacy laws by the Patriot Act post-9.11, while Professor Jenny Mueller’s Contemporary Global Issues class will host Vikram Singh, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Institute for Peace, as he debriefs us on America’s exit from Afghanistan.  Philosophy Professor Sharon Meagher kicked off our series with an excellent talk on what it means to live ethically in the city and Religious Studies Professor Brad Herling is opening his Nature of Evil AIP for a discussion of faith and doubt at Ground Zero.  Towards the end of the month Psychology Professor Cheryl Paradis will share how our brains remember (or don’t) moments like 9.11.  And we will have a roundtable of professors debating how history in creative form–film, literature, theatre, art, and dance–can be most successful (or sometimes fail).  Finally, Archivist and Professor Mary Brown will be taking students on the Staten Island Ferry to view the Tribute in Light from the water on 9.11 itself.  We are so grateful to all our colleagues for their contributions to making this series happen and we hope to see many of our students there.

A special thanks to Professor Brown for taking the time to answer our queries. If you are interested in learning more about the event series, check out the HUMSOC page on MMC Engage to register for the current events. We hope you all get the opportunity to participate in this historical moment. Lastly, we would like thank you all for joining this week on the 255 and looking forward to seeing you back here soon. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and stay cozy as we approach the Fall season!

Welcome back to Fall 2021! We are thrilled to be back to the academic grind, and excited to see some faces IRL. Masks on, of course!

HUMSOC has some big news to kick off the 21-22 school year!

The Department formerly know as EWL has transformed, upgraded, renewed and renamed and will henceforth be know as-

Writing, Language and Literature. Has a nice ring, don’t you think. The newly named Department has big news hidden in it’s pages: a brand new major.

You can now major in Creative Writing at MMC. What was formerly a Concentration in the major is now full blown major unto itself. The official announcement from Dept. Chair Michael Colvin came earlier this summer:

We are pleased to announce that the Department of English and World Literatures (EWL) will be merging with the Department of Academic Writing (WRIT) as of July 1, 2021. Our new name will be the Department of Writing, Literature, and Language. Starting this summer, students can declare as their major a B.F.A. in Creative Writing, or a B.A. in English and World Literatures with a concentration in Literature or Literature and Media. The Department of Writing, Literature, and Language will be the home of the Academic Writing Program, and will continue to offer minors in Creative Writing, Literature, and Literature and Media; and language and culture classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish.

– Prof Michael Colvin

All these exciting changes got us wondering: How was the study of English evolved at MMC?

The earliest records we could find show an English program heavily focused on American and European literature, but there are definitely a few classes that are still on the books! When yours truly (esteemed HUMSOC admin and MMC alum) arrived on campus the English Dept. had minors, but no concentrations, and featured core classes organized by era, with some focused on theme or genre. By the time I matriculated English had become English and World Literatures (2010), with a focus on moving towards a broader canon. This Dept. also included a concentration in Creative Writing, which had previously only been available as a minor.

When I showed up in 2004 there wasn’t even a CRW minor, so I designed that and it grew into a concentration in EWL in 2014 (?) and NOW it’s a BFA in WLL.

– Prof Jerry Williams

Thanks for joining us on that jaunt down memory lane in appreciation of our wonderful faculty past and present, and also of all the ways HUMSOC continues to grow and evolve. If you have any questions about WWL reach out to Prof Colvin, and all Creative Writing questions can go straight to Prof Williams. The HUMSOC fam is now located on main campus, split between CH202 and NH151. Stop by with any questions, comments, concerns and long delayed greetings. It really has been wonderful to see folks back in action.

Off to the races! First reminder of the school year to stay hydrated, stay kind, get rest and take care of yourselves and each other. As always, thanks for reading.

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to 255. We are super excited to be here at the end of the spring semester. WE DID IT! To all faculty, staff, and students alike, you should be proud of what we have accomplished this semester – it was no easy feat. We, here at HUMSOC, would like to recognize our appreciation for all of the hard work you all have put into the 2020-2021 Academic Year. A special shoutout and congratulations to the Class of 2021! You made it! We wish you the best of luck as you embark on the next journey of your lives. A last piece of advice, no matter how far you go, remember you always got community here on East 71st! This week, as we say our goodbyes for the semester, we are bringing you the 411 on the history behind summer break. Who is the godsent individual that began this holiday? And why? All your summer queries will shortly be answered. Without further ado, let’s get started.

To uncover the origins of summer vacation, the 255 discovered the following information provided by Malki Ehrlich, author of the article “Why Do We Have Summer Vacation?”

So what is summer vacation?
Summer vacation, which can be either referred to as summer holiday or summer break is a school holiday that occurs in the summer both in the United States and in other countries around the world. Summer break is usually the longest break in the school year lasting usually for a period of 6 to 14 weeks, depending on the country.

Origin of summer vacation
There have been a lot of myths and oral tradition concerning the origin of summer vacation. Some of these myths contend that summer vacation or summer holiday originated as a result of the school calendar originating from the Agrarian family calendar. Since during the early settlement of the United States, the nation was made up primarily of farmers. According to this myth, it was believed that school kids took a break during summer to help their parents in their fields and farms. As exciting this story may sound, it is incorrect and had nothing to do with kids sweating off labor hours in the farm all in the name of tilling the soil. Before the civil war, school kids never took a break from school during summer. Looking back at the history of the American summer breaks we found that in the year 1842, school kids in the city of Detroit had an academic year that ran for 260 days.

The origin of summer vacation in the US had a lot to do with the rising middle and upper class in American society. During the summer period, most wealthy and affluent families took all excuses to escape from the hot and harsh summer weather with their kids to the cool countryside. This affected the school attendance and learning progress since school attendance wasn’t mandatory at that time. As this continued, legislators and labor union advocates argued for counterbalancing a more regulated summer holiday/break for school kids. They were all agreed that the idea of learning year-round was not ideal for kids since the brain is a muscle which needed to be rested.

As time went by, summer holiday became a norm and fully instituted with various districts cutting out about 40- 60 days off the school year calendar to accommodate this newly conceived summer break. Gradually, summer holidays became a sort of business for business folks who took advantage of this summer break to turn it into a business industry and venture.

A big thanks to Malki Ehrlich for shedding the light on the social constructions of summer vacation. It is always fascinating to learn the sociological foundations of things we usually take for granted like summer break. Be sure to take time over the vacation to read and learn more about the origin of topics that interest you.

We would like to again congratulate everyone for finishing this term. Although the summer will be lonely without you, we can’t wait to see your return in the fall for another amazing academic year. To the Class of 2021, we are beyond proud of all your accomplishments and look forward to keeping in touch. To everyone, be sure to take the time over the summer break to decompress, relax, and give your body the rest it deserves. As always a last reminder, to be kind, stay safe, and wear lots of sunscreen in the summer season. SEE YOU SOON!!

Welcome back to 255! To begin, we would like to send our best wishes and support to our students who are working tirelessly to finish out the semester. Best of luck to all of you. You got this!

This week on the 255 we are reviving a classic segment of ours. That’s right, an all new segment of #StudentSpotlight is coming your way! The ongoing series of #StudentSpotlight highlights the amazing work, research, and excellency of our own MMC students. In this post, we are featuring the work of graduating Senior, T’keyah Grant, an exceptional student and leader both in and out of the classroom. In addition to learning more about T’keyah’s involvement and studies at MMC, we are highlighting her most recent research featured at MMC’s own Honor’s Day. So sit back, relax, grab your beverage of choice, and get ready for thrilling #StudentSpotlight.

T’keyah Grant is a double major in International Studies and Politics & Human Rights with a double minor in Law & Ethics and Social Work. She demonstrates commitment to excellence both within the MMC community and the larger New York City area. In the classroom, T’keyah’s astounding merit is recognized by the many college accolades she has received. On top of making the Dean’s List every year of her college career, T’keyah is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Pi Gamma Mu Honor’s Societies, and has proudly served as Senior Marshall for the Class of 2021. Most recently she was awarded the Certificate for Academic Excellence for her Social Work minor. Outside of Marymount, T’keyah has worked for the Sunrise Movement, volunteered with the Movement for Black Lives, and interned with the United Nations Office of the Scalibrini International Migration Network. Upon graduating, T’keyah seeks to continue her engagement in policy research and advocacy to develop community capacity for effectively addressing the social problems of our time.

This April, T’keyah submitted her research and was accepted to Marymount’s own Honor’s Day. You can read her work, Above the Law? : UN Peacekeepers, Sexual Exploitation & Accountability here. The 255 took the opportunity to reach out to T’keyah and further inquire about her research project. Check out what she had to say below.

1. What is your research paper about?

My paper, Above the Law ? : UN Peacekeepers, Sexual Exploitation & Accountability is an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data on the United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in relationship to sexual exploitation and abuse. It takes a look at peacekeepers that have been deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the MONUSCO mission (the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo). The paper highlights UN peacekeepers, as violators of human rights rather than an instrument of the UN, used to promote human rights and to keep the peace. The paper also argues that the UN seems unwilling and unable to hold these individuals accountable for their actions. This paper answers the question of why the UN, as the upholder of human rights throughout the world, is unable to police its own. Through analysis of the data, I was able to assert that it is difficult to effectively hold peacekeepers accountable for their violations of conduct, due to issues of command and control, impunity, high standards of substantiation and corroboration, as well as early repatriation.

T’keyah Grant, Class of 2021

2. What was your motivation for conducting this research?

In alignment with the tide of adjusting and reforming the UN and its operations to suit the modern dilemmas of the world of today, I wrote this paper with the intention of lending to bigger conversations around the effectiveness of the UN as an international governing body, as well as the larger conversation around gender and human rights. My study adds to these conversations by illustrating why the inability of the UN to effectively hold their own accountable, affects the legitimacy of the body as a whole to address injustices throughout the world.

T’keyah Grant, Class of 2021

We would like to thank T’keyah for taking the time to share her research with us. Needless to say, whether conducting research projects or applying her studies in internship and volunteer experience, T’keyah is an outstanding individual. Congratulations to T’keyah for her myriad achievements and graduation from MMC. We, here at HUMSOC, wish our future alum nothing but the best in her future endeavors. As we approach the home stretch of this semester remember to take breaks, take naps, stay hydrated and help each other out.

Welcome back to the 255. A brief message to all our student: keep going and you got this! This part of the semester is particularly stressful and we wish all our students the best of luck in the final stretch of the semester. On the 255 this week, we continue our celebration of National Poetry Month by amplifying the Black poetry. Specifically we highlight the awesome work of Black female poets some of whom you may or may not already know about. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Ego Trippin’ by Nikki Giovanni

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
    the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
    that only glows every one hundred years falls
    into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
    drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
    to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
    the tears from my birth pains
    created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
    out the sahara desert
    with a packet of goat’s meat
    and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
    so swift you can’t catch me

    For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
    He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
    as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
    men intone my loving name
    All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
    the filings from my fingernails are
    semi-precious jewels
    On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
    the earth as I went
    The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
    across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
    except by my permission

I mean . . . I . . . can fly
    like a bird in the sky . . .

“These Poems” by June Jordan

These poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?

These words
they are stones in the water
running away

These skeletal lines
they are desperate arms for my longing and love.

I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
around me
whoever you are
whoever I may become.

“Poetry is not a luxury” by Audre Lorde (excerpt! the full piece can be viewed here)

I speak here of poetry as the revelation or distillation of experience, not the sterile
word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean — in order to
cover their desperate wish for imagination without insight.

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the
quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and
change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external
horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences
of our daily lives.

“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

“In this Place (An American Lyric” by Amanda Gorman (excerpt! read the full piece here)

How could this not be her city
su nación
our country
our America,
our American lyric to write—
a poem by the people, the poor,
the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew,
the native, the immigrant,
the black, the brown, the blind, the brave,
the undocumented and undeterred,
the woman, the man, the nonbinary,
the white, the trans,
the ally to all of the above
and more?

Tyrants fear the poet.
Now that we know it
we can’t blow it.
We owe it
to show it
not slow it
although it
hurts to sew it
when the world
skirts below it.       

we must bestow it
like a wick in the poet
so it can grow, lit,
bringing with it
stories to rewrite—
the story of a Texas city depleted but not defeated
a history written that need not be repeated
a nation composed but not yet completed.

Thank you for joining us this week on the 255. Today, tomorrow, this week, and forever, is always the best time to amplify black voices, black art, and black lives. We hope you enjoyed these selections of our fav poems and writings from badass poets of color! If you are interested in learning more about poetry by black authors, check out this attached link. We here at HUMSOC wish you all the best in the upcoming week. As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and embrace your creative side!

Welcome back to the 255! We wish our students our best of luck as we now embark on the final stretch of the semester! In celebration of National Poetry Month, the 255 is bring you a special segment highlighting our favorite poets and writings. We hope that throughout this month you all take time to reflect on your favorite styles of poetry from classical to contemporary, in both written and oral traditions. For more information on how to celebrate National Poetry Month check out the source below brought to you by the Academy of American Poets. They have some awesome year-round project going on.

Academy of American Poets

Professor Jennifer Brown’s Featured Poem:

“Good Bones”

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

– Maggie Smith

Professor Jerry William’s Featured Poem:

“St Judas”

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

– James Wright

HUMSOC Admin Alex Dill’s Featured Poem:

“An Old Cracked Tune”

My name is Solomon Levi,
the desert is my home,
my mother’s breast was thorny,
and father I had none.

The sands whispered, Be separate,
the stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving,
on the edge of the road.

– Stanley Kunitz

We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite poems. What poetic themes and styles interest you? What about those poems hold meaning to you? What makes a poem memorable? These are all great reflective questions that we should consider throughout National Poetry Month. Whether it be reading a poem a day, reflecting on some of your favs, creating your own poetry, or actively participating in a poetry group, we wish you all a wonderful poetry month. Finally, as always, a brief reminder to be kind, stay safe, and stay hydrated and poetic!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that all our students had a fun and relaxing spring break! Especially during these times, it is super important to practice self-care and consistently decompress and treat yourself. This week on the 255 we celebrate the conclusion of Women’s History Month with one last amazing woman that shattered the glass ceiling for women everywhere – Marie Curie! We highlight Marie Curie’s work to demonstrate the groundbreaking precedent she set for women in the sciences and we provide sources you can use to continue researching her amazing career. We also want to highlight some cross disciplinary brilliance and acknowledge National Poetry Month. What does Marie Curie have to do with poetry? Stay tuned to find out!

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. Marie Curie was involved involved in a students’ revolutionary organization and eventually found it necessary to leave Warsaw, fleeing oppressive Russian domination. She finished her schooling at the Sorbonne in Paris where she obtained Licentiateships in Physics and the Mathematical Scientists. Following the death of her husband, Pierre Curie in 1906, Curie took his place and became the Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences at Sorbonne, the first time a woman ever held this position.

Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity in 1896 inspired the Curies in their researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium and radium. Marie Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties. Curie advocated for the use of radium to alleviate suffering during World War I and she devoted herself – alongside her daughter, Irene – to this remedial work. Marie Curie was held in high esteem and admiration by scientists throughout the world. She was a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay from 1911 until her death and since 1922 she had been a member of the Committee of Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations.

The importance of Marie Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine, and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. Marie Curie’s contribution to the world of science not only was provided invaluable research into the discovery of polonium and radium but also established a glass-shattering precedent for all women around the world aspiring to enter the world of the sciences. To check out more information on the life of Marie Curie check out the following links below that give you fun articles, podcasts, and videos!

And now, we shift towards the poetic, in a curious and connected tangent. Adrienne Rich is one of America’s most respected poets. Born in Baltimore, MD in 1929, she grew up steeped in the intellectual ambitions of her father, who was a pathologist at Johns Hopkins. She excelled academically, and earned her degree from Radcliff University. She married and had 3 children, but her marriage began to fall apart as she became more politically aware in the 1960’s. She would later say that “the experience of motherhood was eventually to radicalize me.” This new understanding of her personal and political life began to show in her work. Beginning with Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962 (1963), Rich’s work has explored issues of identity, sexuality, and politics. Best known for her politically-engaged verse from the tumultuous Vietnam War period, Rich’s collection Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) won the National Book Award. Rich accepted it with fellow-nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker on behalf of all women. In addition to the National Book Award, Rich received many awards and commendations for her work, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and a MacArthur “Genius” Award. She made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts for political reasons. You can read more about her prolific and thoughtful career here.

We are talking about Adrienne because of a poem she wrote in The Dream of a Common Language called “Power”.


Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

This poem is a beautiful tribute to Marie Curie, and illustrates the ways art and science can inspire and reinforce one another. Nature often provides artists with majestic subjects and interesting, clear metaphors. Here Rich uses radiation sickness and the images of amber, decaying earth and body, to comment on the emotional landscapes of women, and the lived experience of womanhood. You can read more about the poem, and hear it read aloud by author Cherly Strayed (who includes this poem in her memoir Wild, continuing the women inspiring women train!) here.

We hope you enjoyed our last segment in our Women’s History Month series. It is crucial to recognize the contribution of women like Marie Curie to the world of science and education, and to let them inspire us towards creation like Adrienne Rich! Although Women’s History month is coming to an end, we will keep highlighting the contributions made by women in all fields, and in poetry in particular though April. We hope you’ll take the time to read and write some poetry this month, and explore poets as yet unknown to you. As always stay safe, kind, hydrated and poetic!

Welcome back to the 255! As we approach spring break, we wish our students a nice and relaxing time away from the virtual classroom! This week on the 255, we continue to highlight Women’s History Month. This post features the amazing work of now Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. While providing more information around Secretary Haaland’s historic confirmation, we are also taking this time to give more insights on sovereign tribal nations all around the United States. So grab your tea or coffee and get ready to jump right in to this segment of #AcademiaIRL.

Secretary Deb Haaland was confirmed by the Senate on March 15th, 2021 and became the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet Secretary. This is not the first time Secretary Haaland has shattered the glass ceiling. In 2014, she ran for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico and became the first Native American woman to lead a state party. Secretary Haaland also served as the U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District from 2019-2021. Haaland is a 35th generation New Mexican and a member of the Pueblo of Laguna – a federally recognized tribe of the Native American Pueblo people in west-central New Mexico. During her tenure as a public official, Haaland has pioneered conversations and legislation concerning environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies. Outside of public service, Haaland has managed and run her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa, held a variety of tribal administrative positions at San Felipe Pueblo, and eventually became the first woman elected to the Lugana Development Corporation Board of Directors. Haaland holds a B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School. Both in and out of public service, Secretary Haaland has demonstrated time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with.

To learn more about Deb Haaland check out the links below:

The Pueblo of Laguna is just one of the many federally recognized tribes of Native American people in the United States. One of the problems that face many Native Americans today is the ignorance of the majority of the U.S. public regarding knowledge around the legal and political institutions of Native tribes and their sovereignty. It is easy to discredit the treaties between settler colonials and indigenous peoples as “a thing of the past.” However, many people fail to understand the contemporary relevance of those legally and politically binding treaties and documents, and to recognize the sovereignty of indigenous communities across the United States. Even Supreme Court cases acknowledge the existence of the three sovereign entities that make up the U.S.A – the federal government, state governments, and tribal governments. If you’re interested in learning about the relationship between tribunal governments and the state and federal systems, you can follow the links below.

Check out these sources to learn more about the sovereign tribes around the United States:

We send our support and congratulations to Secretary Haaland for shattering the glass wall. We hope you enjoyed this segment on the 255 as we continue to decolonize American history and more specifically women’s history! We here at the 255 believe it is crucial to revisit our history with new perspectives so we can take away new understandings of the contemporary world. We look forward to bringing you our last features for International Women’s History Month in the coming week! As always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and read about indigenous people’s history!

Welcome back to the 255! We send all our students our best wishes as we quickly approach midterms season. This week we wanted to give a quick update on one of our former #FacultyFeature posts. Last semester we highlighted the work of Professor Lauren Erin Brown and her book project Cold War, Culture War, and War on Terror: The Art of Public Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War World. Professor Brown’s work was one of our featured reading posts which you can check out here. Recently, the Wilson Center, a non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research, interviewed Professor Brown about her motivation and inspiration to conduct her study. Check out snip-bits of the interview below and use the following link to read the entire entry.

As a quick refresher Dr. Brown’s work examines how the National Endowment for the Arts lost funding during the 1990s and reframes the conversation around the relationship between the arts and larger U.S. foreign relations in the Cold War and War on Terror. Dr. Brown discusses her own work by explaining “I’m forever interested in how and why America supports the arts and the impact those policy and money decisions have on the art that actually gets made.” She elaborates on the mission of her project by adding “These are important stories to tell in 2020, as we face a new chapter in the culture wars in an unstable economy where continued support for artists is far from guaranteed.”

“Q: What project are you working on at the [Wilson] Center?

My current book project, “Cold War, Culture Wars, War on Terror: The Art of Public Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War World, 1990-2010” is an expansion of a recent article published in Cold War History.  I’m asking three essential questions.  First, what role did cultural agencies like the NEA/NEH, the Kennedy Center, and the Smithsonian play in American public diplomacy?  Second, how did the Cold War’s end impact their operations?  Third, was the resuscitation of agencies gutted in the mid-90s and subsequent programming related to the War on Terror. Preliminary research suggests the Bush-era launched a public diplomacy operation—a marketing campaign straight from the Cold War playbook—to rebrand the NEA, enlist other agencies in reaffirming American cultural values, and support the war.

Professor Brown

“Q: How did you become interested in your current research topic?”

There’s the romantic answer and the intellectual answer to that question. The intellectual answer is that I’ve had the great fortune, over my career, to be mentored by some outstanding consumer historians–Daniel Horowitz at Smith, Charlie McGovern, with whom I overlapped at the Smithsonian, and Lizabeth Cohen at Harvard. And what is cultural diplomacy if not marketing America? . . . I remain endlessly interested in how cultural policy reflects and creates “America,” especially abroad, particularly when the version we sell to others conflicts with an “America” actively contested at home.

The romantic answer? A rose from a Russian ballet dancer. A child of the 80s, I had the good fortune to present the after-show flowers on stage to a touring group of Soviet dancers who performed Sleeping Beauty’s “Bluebird” pas de deux. I handed the dancer her bouquet and as they do, she pulled out a rose to hand back to me . . . I knew this was the enemy (being the last generation to grow up with atomic bomb duck and cover drills) and she was so beautiful. That I’d find myself decades later sitting at the Bolshoi and the Maryiinsky, studying the exchanges that brought that dancer to stand in front of younger me, seems fitting.

Prof Brown

“Q: Why do you believe that your research matters to a wider audience?”

The Russian government shuttered the U.S. Embassy’s American Center in Moscow in 2015, housed for two decades at a local library.  I lectured there while a Fulbrighter—an unassuming spot for the people-to-people interactions Cold War programs promoted.  The American Center reopened, but within the Embassy’s campus, thus necessitating Russian visitors present passports and eliminating the casual visits people-to-people exchange intends.  These are important programs which are not always maintaining support . . .  Calls to eliminate the NEA/NEH increased over the previous administration . . . Whether these agencies—domestic and international culture exchange workers that they are—survive (hopefully thrive) or follow the USIA’s path depends on our understanding of the work they do in the world.  America lives with institutions and policy approaches, cultural diplomacy especially, that are by-products of the Cold War.  It’s time to understand historically how the Cold War’s end impacted their well-being and missions as we’ve moved into a post-Cold War world, especially one with new Russian antagonism and instabilities.

Prof Brown

“Q: What do you hope the impact of your research will be?”

Simply put, for more people to see the value a coherent and thoughtful cultural policy offers our nation, both as an avenue for self-understanding domestically as well as a path for positive impression management and connections abroad.  And for these efforts to be funded appropriately, dare I even suggest, richly.

Prof Brown

Congratulations to Professor Lauren Erin Brown for the success of her research project. We are excited to have her back sharing her research findings with students this semester in AIP 317 Cold War Diplomacy. Thanks for joining us this week on the 255 and reading our #FacultyFeature. Stay on the look out for our updates that give you the 441 on the awesome works of our MMC faculty. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and tune into your creative side.