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!