The 255 is excited to continue our 3rd entry of the Meet the Division series. For the HUMSOC spotlight this week, we wanted to highlight our new Division Chair, Prof Jennifer Brown! The Chair is responsible for Division leadership, as well as communication with the higher ups of the college, and we applaud Prof Brown for taking on this role during this most challenging time.

MEET JENNIFER BROWN:

Professor Brown is the current Chair of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division. She previously held the titles of Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English and World Literatures at MMC. Her teaching and research interests includes Medieval and Early Modern Literature. She is the author of four books: Fruit of the Orchard: Catherine of Siena in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (University of Toronto Press, 2018), Sexuality, Sociality and Cosmology in Medieval Texts (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), Barking Abbey and Medieval Literary Culture: Authorship and Authority in a Female Community (University of York Medieval Press, 2012), and Three Women of Liège: A Critical Edition of and Commentary on the Middle English Lives of Elizabeth of Spalbeek, Christina Mirabilis, and Marie d’Oignies (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2008). Some of Professor Brown’s current work focuses on sexuality in Medieval Europe.

  • What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • I love teaching History of the English Language (which I will be teaching in the Spring)! I find the way English has evolved completely fascinating and the course is also a mini history of literature written in English, political and religious turmoil, colonization, and nationalism. My students also have written the most fabulous papers ranging from translations of Old English poetry, to editions of the Bible, to Hip Hop.
  • What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • I do a mixture of lecture and seminar. Much of the material I teach is really foreign to students (medieval literature, for example), so I do need to lecture a bit to give some context of the time period, the people writing, the literacy, the religious climate. But then I like to move to seminar where the students take the lead. I find no matter how well I know a text or have taught it, the students will show me a new way to see and interpret it.
  • Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I fell in love with Chaucer and Women’s Studies both in college, terrific texts and professors, so medieval studies and feminist theory were a natural combination for me.
  • What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • I love to run, and can’t wait for the day when races start up again in the city. I also really enjoy cooking, especially with my kids. And of course, reading! I love reading contemporary fiction. My favorites from the quarantine were The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo; Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, and A Burning by Megha Majumdar. I also enjoy memoirs and non-fiction, and recently read and loved Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom and Heavy by Kiese Layamon, as well as The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.
  • Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • Yes! I have a dachshund named Athena. She is the third dachshund I’ve had, and I will stand by the assertion that there are no better dogs.
  • What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • Our students are learning the most important work place and life skill right now — to adapt. As this pandemic showed us, we truly don’t know what the future will bring, but students have learned to work from the most unlikely places, to move their courses online, to navigate new software. Learning to roll with the changes, pivot from plans, and reassess your goals are lifeskills we can always use.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Prof Brown, HUMSOC’s intrepid leader! Happy first day of autumn, and remember to stay kind and stay cozy!

Welcome back to the 255! We are excited to continue our Featured Reading series this week highlighting the work of Professor Lauren Erin Brown. Dr. Brown recently received two research grants to continue her book project Cold War, Culture War, and War on Terror: The Art of Public Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War World. .

Dr. Brown, on sabbatical for the Fall 2020 semester, is conducting research in Washington D.C. at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and the National Archives. Dr. Brown received two research grants for her current project, the first coming from the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the second from the Dirksen Congressional Center.

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. 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.”

In the Spring semester, Brown will return to MMC as she expresses her enthusiasm to share her research finding with her students. A goal of Dr. Brown’s has been to reframe the ways that students view history. She adds:

Everyone needs to understand that you can’t change the world unless you understand how this world we live in came to be. Studying history—cultural, social, and political revolutions—provides lessons in shaping your own.

A digital copy of Dr. Brown’s previously published work around this subject can be found on the link below.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14682745.2019.1706165

We would once again like to congratulate Dr. Brown on her research grants and we look forward to having her back in the classroom next semester.

Welcome back to the 255! As a part of our on-going featured reading series, we would like to highlight the work of Marymount’s own Professor Tahneer Oksman. Professor Oksman most recently published work “An Art of Loss” is must a read for anyone interested in gender, diversity, and identity in comics.

“An Art of Loss” by Tahneer Oksman can be found in Volume I of Spaces Between

Professor Oksman discusses her work by explaining that “‘An Art of Loss,’ talks about representations of sexual assault, harassment, and violence in two contemporary graphic novels: Ulli Lust’s Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life (2013) and Una’s Becoming Unbecoming (2016).” She connects the article to her current course at MMC entitled Comics as Literature. Prof. Oksman expresses her enthusiasm for her course as it directly relates to her work in Spaces Between:

We’ll be reading comics and graphic novels to explore storytelling and genre in visual narratives. Some of the topics we will address include race and racism, illness and disability, and gender and sexuality.

For those interested in this topic, Prof. Oksman provides the literature below as supplemental readings she plans to highlight in her course:

  • Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
  • Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
  • Marbles by Ellen Forney
  • Belonging by Nora Krug

Prof. Oksman has submitted an excerpt of her work below. For those that want to purchase a copy of Spaces Between: Gender, Diversity, and Identity in Comics to read “An Art of Loss” can follow the link provided.

https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783658301156

“When Susan Brownmiller published her influential 1975 feminist work, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, she drove the point home that any woman can be a target of rape and that the threat of rape is a constant, pervasive influence for women. Similarly, in Aftermath (2002), a book that in part recalls the author’s own traumatic experience, philosopher Susan Brison argues, ‘Sexual violence victimizes not only those women who are directly attacked, but all women’ (Brison 2002, pp. 17–18). The treat of attack is expansive; it can’t be boiled down to a single moment, or incident. In Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, an atmosphere of threat is developed through the repetition of a roster of images––groups of men leering and laughing, individual men lurching, grabbing, coaxing and scolding, the protagonist wincing and watching, exclaiming and retreating. These repeated images wind their way through the course of the book; a steady, beating accumulation”

–Tahneer Oksman “An Art of Loss”

We would like to congratulate Tahneer Oksman and thank her for sharing her work. We wish Professor Oksman the best of luck in all her courses in the coming semester!

Welcome back to the second entry of our Meet the Division series!

As Fall semester is well underway, we wanted to highlight one of our department Chairs, as many of you may have him in class this semester.

MEET MICHAEL COLVIN:

Professor Colvin is the Chair of the English and World Literatures Department. Michael’s research interests include late twentieth-century Latin American narrative, Portuguese literature and culture produced under fascist dictatorships, and narratives of personal trauma. He is the author of three books: Las últimas obras de José Donoso: Juegos, roles y rituales en la subversión del poder (Madrid: Pliegos, 2001), The Reconstruction of Lisbon: Severa’s Legacy and the Fado’s Rewriting of Urban History (Lewisburg, US: Bucknell University Press, 2008), and Fado and the Urban Poor in Portuguese Cinema of the 1930s and 1940s (Suffolk, UK: Tamesis, 2016). Dr. Colvin’s current book project focuses on subjective analyses of linguistic and visual encoding of terror in nightmares and creative acts.

Dr. Colvin and his dog Boa
  1. What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • My favorite course is SPAN 315, Hispanic Civilization. I love to teach this course because we examine a variety of texts in many regions over thirteen centuries, and I get to meet students from all over the College. I teach the course almost every semester, and it’s always exciting to teach, and I am always learning from that class.
  2. What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • I like to layer the material I assign, so that students can return to new concepts from different perspectives until they can make sense of the material in relation to the greater goals of the course. I also go to class with an obsessive interest in my course material, so that helps to keep the students engaged in what I am engaged in.
  3. Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I chose my field of study -Latin American Literature, because I wanted to do graduate work only in Spanish and Portuguese, and because I loved to learn languages through reading, talking to people, watching films, and listening to music. I started teaching Spanish language labs as an undergraduate student, and on the side, I taught English as a second language at an Atlantic City casino. In graduate school at Temple University, I had the opportunity to teach In Spanish and Portuguese as part of my assistantship, and that is when I chose my profession.
  4. What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • When I am not working, I make large collages, mostly landscapes. I also sing classical music in the bass section of a chorus, so I like to sing every day.
  5. Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • My pet is my dog Boa. He is 10.5 years old. I cook his meals twice a day.
  6. What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • I have found that by creating a structured schedule for work and non-work, and by setting achievable goals in both areas, I reduce my own feelings of helplessness. I also go outside ten times a day to walk my dog, and I leave my phone at home when I do that.

A gentle reminder for us all: go outside. Grab a cardigan. Take a warm beverage. Enjoy the newly returned crispness.

Thanks for reading.

Welcome all to the Fall 2020 Semester!

We are thrilled to kick off the start of the semester with a new HUMSOC Blog series entitled Meet the Division. We hope that these entries provide students with opportunities to get to know the amazing faculty and staff in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (aka HUMSOC!)

For the first week we are highlighting two members of our community that work behind the scenes!!

MEET ALEX DILL:

Alex Dill works as the Administrative Assistant for the HUMSOC division. Alex graduated from MMC with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and continued her studies in a Master’s Program in Gender Studies and Creative Writing at New York University. This is her second year working with the HUMSOC division and she is a vital asset to keep our lovely community functioning.

  1. What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • This semester I’ve been given the opportunity to teach LINK 101, a class that helps first year students learn about the college and it’s many resources, and build community. I’m really excited to get to work directly with students in this capacity.
  2. What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • Authenticity 
  3. Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I always loved to read, and found myself interested in poetry and writing super young. As my “career” twists and turns, the one thing that’s steady is that I never stop writing. 
  4. What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • I love to teach Pilates, cook vegan food, and ride my bike (her name is Dolly Jean Rose Louise Dill).
  5. Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • No pets, cause my roommate and I are both clean freaks! But I love animals, especially puppies and sloths and whales.
  6. What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • Learn/read as much and as widely as you can, always assume positive intent and lead with kindness, and figure out early how to take care of yourself mentally/physically/spiritually. Success is not about money or exhaustion, and defining that on your own terms will save you so much energy and anxiety along the way. Don’t for a second think that any one you know/follow, or “adults” have it all figured out, we are all learning and evolving and feeling the effects of the world as it turns. Put succinctly: remember to breathe.

MEET DORIAN PROVECHER:

Dorian Provencher works closely with Alex & the HUMSOC division through the Federal Work-Study Program. Dorian is a Junior seeking a dual-degree in International Studies and Politics & Human Rights. We are super excited to have Dorian on board with our department!

  1. What is your favorite course/subject that you have taken here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • Out of the courses that I have taken so far, I have two favorite courses. Power: Conflict & Diplomacy was an interesting class that educates students about the concept of power in international relations. I am interested in this course as it is a part of my studies in the IS program, but would encourage students of all departments to take it. Secondly, America’s Founding was a “reacting to the past” (role playing) pedagogical approach to teaching the constitutional founding of the United States. Especially during quarantine this course was a nice escape from the 21st Century. Again, a MUST TAKE!
  2. Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I chose International Studies and Politics & Human Rights because of my interest in contemporary global issues; specifically cases of human rights. I plan to use my education to work with NGOs and IGOs that seek to enhance global human rights.
  3. What is your favorite activity to do when you are not in school?
    • When I am not in school, I enjoy listening to music, dancing around, going on walks, and reading.
  4. Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • YES! I own three wonderful pets who unfortunately are all back home in North Carolina. I have 2 dogs: Juju & Opti and a cat: Shadow.
  5. What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • Study hard and take care of yourself. Our awesome faculty members are working really hard to ensure that MMC can continue to effectively educate its students even in a global pandemic. Study hard and take as many opportunities as possible to further your education. Even though its a tough situation, I have no doubt that our community will be able to persevere. And finally, take care of yourself, these times are unprecedented. We all need to take that into consideration when we are doing work and studying. Treat yourself, spend time with your loved ones, and do whatever you need to ensure that you are both mentally and physically healthy!