Welcome back to the 255. This week we wanted to feature an ongoing series hosted by the English and World Literature Department; the Brown Bag Lunch Series. The faculty from across Divisions are able to share their work with students, connecting it to ideas relating to their courses and research interests. The 255 took this opportunity to interview the Chair of the Department, Michael Colvin, to get some insight on the series and its position within the department.

  1. What is the Brown Bag series and what inspired the English and World Literatures Department to host such a series for students?

I was very curious to see how we could look at the different ways text is used in different disciplines. So my idea was to start inviting people from different disciplines who use or define text in different ways to see what they’re doing. For example, I always think it is interesting to teach Bible as Literature to see students who have experienced the Bible as Bible first, and to see that there is already, in the reading, a tradition of close analysis commentary. So this also becomes an opportunity to see, even in our disciplines, the way we read things. We read through our disciplines, but there is an overlapping. It is also a way to get inspiration as faculty for ways that analysis can be used for intervention. We like sharing and seeing our work and seeing how this comes in with the work that we do with students. We do a lot of student showcases, so for us this experience was also a way to show that all of us as faculty are involved in some way beyond just teaching. We wanted to be able to share what drives us outside of the classroom.

2. What are other events that you have hosted and how does the brown bag series relate to those?

Some of the past talks we’ve had have been very interesting because the presenters have used different formats to present their work whether that be using technology or in conversational ways to demonstrate their outcomes. These events tend to be very informal, but it invites students to ask questions.

I’m hoping that these events are sending the message that our department and our major programs are very involved in creative work and also in analytical and intellectual work. It’s part of everything that our students do. It’s actually very nice to see that the brown bag series, the creative writing functions, and student showcases that we will be doing compliment each other. All of it is very interesting to me how these events demonstrate students engaging in text. And that to me is really amazing because it’s creating a sense of community.

3. How is the engagement between the Brown Bag Series and the students translating in the virtual world?

It is harder to get people to confirm ahead of time to know what the headcount or screen-count will be. And that makes it difficult for us because we don’t know if we’re going to have three people or three hundred people in any given event. However, I think that there is something that we have realized that we need to work on, which is our communication outreach to know how many people are going to attend.

But, I find that the turnouts have been really good. For example, Professor Williams hosted an event after graduation in the Spring. No students were required to be there, but we had about thirty students attend the meeting to read and hear poetry. And these are the types of things that I think are really positive during our current times. No, we don’t want to be Zoomed in all of the time, but on the other hand, Zoom effectively creates spaces to share the intellectual life of the college. I think that the Brown Bag series and the Creative Writing series are proving to us a good testing ground for how we might consider hosting these types of events in the future.

4. Do you have favorite Brown Bag series topics coming up?

I have loved all of our events, but I would like to promote the upcoming ones. Professor Tatianna Serafin, who teaches in both EWL and the Communications Divisions, will be presenting on Wednesday October 21st from 1:00-2:15 PM. She will presenting on “TwoTwoOne.NYC” the digital journal. That one I am really excited about because I believe we will get students who have participated in the journal before. Also, with the screenshare function, she will be able to provide a lot of examples that will funnel students’ interests in taking one of her journalism courses. I think students are going to be thrilled to see this centerpiece of production that students are involved in.

The other event to note will be given by Professor Cecilia Feilla regarding Jonathan Swift and the Surrealist. I know that Professor Feilla had spent a long time conducting research in Paris a couple of summers ago and was going to present before about it, but, unfortunately, it got cancelled. I am extremely excited to see what she is presenting on and I am also encouraging my seniors to attend because we have been discussing in great detail magical realism.

These are two talks that we have coming up, but I am discussing with my colleagues events and presentation that we might want to do in the spring!

We would like to thank Professor Colvin for taking time to share with us his perspective and vision for the Brown Bag Lunch Series. Don’t forget to check out the upcoming events on the HUMSOC and EWL insta! And as always, be kind, stay safe, and get CREATIVE!!

Shakespeare Globes’ Production of Twelfth Night, 2013

Welcome back to the 255! We are enthusiastic to reintroduce our #StudentSpotlight series. This series will highlight the wonderful work of students, and share with the community their interesting, provocative, and innovative ideas of future. This week we are featuring Maggie Salko, who is a creative and articulate writer whose work reaches far beyond her MMC studies. Her most recently published article on The Daily Fandom, “It’s Time to Bring Shakespeare Out of the Elizabethan Era,” is the highlight of this week’s #StudentSpotlight.

Maggie Salko

Maggie is a Junior at MMC who is double majoring in Business Leadership and Literature & Media. She hopes to go into publishing after graduation. She is currently the President of the student club Marymount Marauders, whose mission is to bring the magical world of Harry Potter to MMC and spread its message, excitement, and magic to the rest of the community. Outside the classroom, Maggie has a plethora of professional internship experiences from organizations like StoryCorps, Custom Broadway, & The Daily Fandom. Maggie has had a passion for Shakespeare since high school, after joining her school’s Shakespeare club. This experience introduced her to plays outside of the ones taught in common core curriculums and inspired a new love for The Bard. She’s been writing for The Daily Fandom, a site dedicated to getting pop-culture and fandom-centric topics into spheres of academia, since May of this year.

Maggie published “It’s Time to Bring Shakespeare Out of the Elizabethan Era,” on August 31st, 2020. In her article she discusses the entertainment value of Shakespeare’s work in the modern era. Throughout the piece, Maggie argues that keeping Shakespeare’s plays in the Elizabethan Era loses some of its important entertainment value. She observes that these pieces of art were the highlight of the theatrical world during their time. However, in a contemporary setting, Maggie describes them as a “chore to see.” She concludes that it is important for directors to place Shakespeare’s work in the modern era because it adds a dynamic to the piece that invigorates its entertainment value.

Maggie explains her interest in this topic by adding: …

When given the opportunity to write about whatever I wanted, I immediately knew that I wanted to write about Shakespeare. After spending quarantine watching the productions from my article, I decided to put that knowledge to use and show people how Shakespeare can be entertaining in today’s world. My main goal was to show that The Bard can still be relevant today, and new theatre creatives have the ability to make his plays exciting and captivating once more.

Chicago Shakespeare’s Theatre Production of Romeo and Juliet, 2019

Thanks to Maggie for sharing her work with us! We love seeing our students spread their wings outside the hallowed walls of MMC. We highly encourage you all to check out her article “It’s Time to Bring Shakespeare Out of The Elizabethan Era.” You can access her entry here. Thanks for reading another entry here at the 255. Finally, a brief reminder to be kind, stay safe, and support each other’s work!

Welcome back to the 255! We are quickly approaching the last few faculty spotlights in our Meet the Division series. This week we wanted to feature the Director of Academic Writing at MMC. She is a vital member of the community and shapes much of the curriculum that stretches beyond the HUMSOC division.


In addition to being the Director of Academic Writing, Professor Epelbaum teaches introductory and advanced writing courses offered for all students at MMC. This semester, Dr. Epelbaum teaches a Writ 101 course that explores “writing about writing” linked with a NYC Seminar, and an AIP course entitled “Race and Place in Natural Histories of the Americas.” Her research interests include Writing and Rhetoric Studies, Early American Literature, and History of Science. Her current book project Empire and Ecology: Gender and Place in Women’s Natural Histories of the Americas, 1688-1808 explores 17th and 18th century women naturalists who disrupted imperial modes of knowledge production and offered alternate visions of the Americas. The New York Times awarded Professor Epelbaum the “Teachers Who Make a Difference Award,” for her excellence in teaching.

Dr Diana Epelbaum
  • What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • I love teaching writing. In these courses, we spend a lot of time on reflection and introspection (and I do, too). We explore our educational journeys, individual writing habits, practices, blocks, preconceptions, emotions, and processes, and work to transform ourselves as writers, readers, and thinkers.
  • What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • I use a lot of metacognition in my courses. This means everything is transparent–why and how I ask students to complete certain tasks, and why and how these tasks might transfer to other situations, both academic and personal. Metacognition creates awareness around our processes and liberates us to make interdisciplinary connections.
  • Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I think this career chose me! From the time I was a kid, everyone told me I would teach, and once I taught my first high school class, I never wanted to do anything else! As a literature teacher, I always gave a lot of class time to writing, but when I went for my doctorate, I realized that writing was a whole field of study, and I’ve been teaching writing ever since. I learn so much from my students, and every year is different. 
  • What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • I love to hike, camp, garden, do anything outdoorsy. I love to travel, and I’m really into travel photography. Attaching a few travel shots here!
  • Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • I have a ten year-old mutt named Frannie, adopted from Miami-Dade Animal Shelter. She is my constant companion. Here’s a pic!
  • What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • The most important advice I’d give to MMC students is to keep challenging yourself to make connections, to think associatively rather than linearly. We are not in a linear world, and many career paths are no longer linear journeys. The more connections you actively make among your classes, and among your classes and personal and professional contexts, the more successful you’ll be at thinking outside the box and creatively approaching the work you ultimately choose. 

Thanks to Professor Epelbaum for sharing with us these wonderful pictures and responses. We look forward to bringing you more stories from our HUMSOC fam later this week! As always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and write more.

The 255 is back with a another Meet the Division series! These week we are highlighting the Chair of the Politics & Human Rights department who is vital to organizing guest speakers, community activities, and cooperating with the sociopolitical student led organizations such as the Bedford Hills Program and the Social Sciences’ Assembly.


In addition to chairing the Politics & Human Rights department, Dr. O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Sociology. Her research, studies, and interests include ethnography, culture, art, work, knowledge, body phenomenology, body, and craft. Her book manuscript, Firework: art, craft, and self among glassblowers, researches glassblowing studios to analyze the meaning of contemporary craft in industrial and knowledge economies. Her research reveals the relations among body, materials, and others inform the emergence of self, community, and meaning while investigating the socio-political meaning of craft throughout history. O’Connor’s published work can be found in journals such as Qualitative Sociology Review, Qualitative Research, and Ethnography among others. She explains that she uses her areas of expertise as lenses through which to investigate social inequality and human rights in regards race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and class among others.

Dr. Erin O’Connor
  • What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • I have a lot of favorite courses, so it is hard to say. Spring 2020, it was Queer Ecologies (PHR 312 aka EcoCulture & Sustainability). The course was an exciting outcome of my research on craft and material ontology; it broke down the dichotomies that construct and separate subject and world. In short, ‘we’ are the ‘world’. Currently, I’m loving all my classes — Environmental Justice, Culture & Ideology, and Art, Politics & Society. I’ve revamped each in light of contemporary social and political issues. Particularly exciting has been the reworking of the Art, Politics & Society syllabus with students from the class. I honestly wasn’t feeling excited about the previous syllabus in the current climate — art activism is everywhere, morning and night, inside and out and I was feeling like that was more pressing to address. Luckily, the students felt the same! So, after talking about the movements, social issues, happenings important to them, I rewrote the syllabus as “Art Activism”. It’s very exciting as we’re discovering new artists and methods of art activism every week. Everyone pitches in!
  • What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • I’m an ethnographer, so I like to be out in the city, talking with people, and learning from environments. Typically, I pair readings with field research. I feel strongly that experiential and theoretical learning go hand in hand. In my own research on glassblowing, for example, I couldn’t have gotten to the theories of material ontology that eventually took me into environmental studies without having blown glass. That’s our payment of the debt of experience — articulation! Covid has changed that, but have adapted through changing classes — Art Activism — does expansive surveys virtually and also through organizing a fall 2020 virtual department event series that brings experts in the field of racial justice into our community via Zoom. This has been so uplifting. At the end of the day, I need experience, the world, and community voices to think and to feel human. At the end of the day, we can neither think nor learn without this.
  • Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • I’m from rural northern Michigan. In my house growing up, we had a set of encyclopedias, a glossary of tropical fish, a book about gnomes and both endless National Geographics and tomes about narrow-gauge railroads. The moments in which I got my hands on some ‘big-picture’ thinking — my English teacher, Ann Reasner, and my mom’s friend, who was an artist, Valerie Loop — I felt my mind leap and bound. I didn’t know what it meant exactly, but I knew that I wanted more. By almost random luck, I submitted one application for college and was accepted to Michigan State University (I’m the first person in my family to earn a college degree). First year, I didn’t understand anything — small town culture didn’t translate into a 40,000 person campus with 200+ person classes — and, though I was fascinated by the catalogue of classes (those lists under Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology!), I nearly flunked out of school. Luckily, my parents let me go back to try again the second year and I came upon a mentor in Political Science, Ron Puhek. Through him and a couple of philosophy and women’s studies professors — Herbert Garelick, Richard Peterson, and Marilyn Frye — I learned that the pursuit of ideas could indeed be a profession! I decided then, my sophomore year, to become a professor. I’m forever indebted to them for showing a small town girl that she could have big ideas 🙂  And, on that note, my town was quite conservative in the typical way of small American rural towns in the 1980s and 1990s, white, homophobic, heterosexist, and insular. I felt strongly at a young age about racial inclusivity, environmental justice, and gay rights, especially as I came to regard myself as bi-sexual. So, in short, I didn’t fit the bill. College was absolute liberation for me as were the big ideas that I encountered there.
  • What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • I love to be outside. All day in any way. I love walking, hiking, swimming, gardening. I also love laughing with my boys — age 7 and 3. When they’re smiling and we’re laughing, running around, there is nothing better.  Before the kids, I did a lot of collage work with handmade paper. I still build and make a lot….shelves, treehouses, garden beds, and anything that involves arranging.
  • Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • Yes, two cats: Michael and Sappho. I was never into cats and my husband is allergic, but, hey, the boys begged us and the kitties were found by neighbors newborn with their mom on top of a garbage bag! Happy to have them now. They’re sweet.
Sappho (Left) and Michael (Right)
  • What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • Stay connected!

Thanks to Professor O’Connor for sharing her pictures, interests, and professional background. Join us next week as our series continues! Autumn is well underway, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and begin to layer up!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that you are all having a wonderful transition into official autumn. To celebrate our seasonal change, we wanted to bring to you our new #FacultyFeature series. Each post will encapsulate the work of one of our awesome HUMSOC faculty. This week we’ll highlight the recent work of Professor Jessica Blatt!

Professor Blatt is an Associate Professor of Political Science here at MMC. Dr. Blatt’s work focuses on American political thought, specifically how ideas of difference such as race, gender, class, etc, interact with political discourse and public policy. Blatt is the author of Race and the Making of American Political Science (University of Pennsylvania Press 2018). At MMC, she teaches many courses relating to social and political theory, race, and American political development.

Professor Jessica Blatt

The Always Already Podcast, a podcast that holds conversations about critical theory, featured Professor Blatt in a conversation around race in relation to American political science. Always Already Podcast has two consistent segments that discuss critical theory in their words “in the broadest read of the term!” The two segments are (1) discussions of texts around critical theory, political theory, social theory, and philosophy; and (2) Epistemic Unruliness that consists of interviews and conversations with activists, artists, and academics.

Throughout the podcast interview, Always Already Podcast question many aspects of American political thought and its relations to race. The podcast explicitly raises the questions: What was political science’s role in shaping a de-radicalizing ‘race relations’ paradigm? How did the early discipline of political science turn to categories of ‘race’ in a bid for foundation funding and claims to scientific knowledge? And, what are the pedagogical implications for political scientists today of the book and of this genealogy of racism in the discipline? Check out Professor Blatt’s interview in the link below as well as her book Race in the Making of American Political Science.

  • Always Already Podcast Interview — here
  • Race in the Making of American Political Science — here

Thanks to Professor Blatt for sharing with us her work. We highly recommend that you all check it out. Join us soon for our next segment on the #FacultyFeature. And as always, a quick reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get to your teachers!

Welcome back to the 255! Today, we look forward to sharing our first In Class Today segment for the Fall 2020 semester. The transition to remote instruction throughout the world forced both instructors and students to re-imagine the classroom. Teachers especially deal will the challenging task of effectively engaging student with only virtual tools in their hands. Jerry Williams, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at MMC, has turned to music as a way of sparking creativity and engagement in virtual spaces.

Professor Williams currently teaches Literary Magazine Publishing, Special Topics in Creative Writing, and a Senior Seminar. Throughout his three hour long lecture classes, Williams sought to engage students through music on their breaks and as a background when writing. He created five Spotify playlists that he cycles through throughout the courses. Check out what he had to say about creating each playlist and how he uses them in class to engage students.

First of all, I often listen to music when I write creatively, but there can’t be any words to distract me. So that means classical and jazz. I have a pretty long writing music playlist on Spotify that I cycle through. I’m also a proponent of the in-class writing prompt for creative writing. Dead air in a Zoom class seems a little deader than usual, so I like to share my screen and put on selections from my writing music playlist while the students spend ten minutes responding to a prompt at the beginning of class. Also, since I teach double session classes once a week, we take a fifteen-minute break in the middle of class. Rather than listen to total silence, I share my screen and put on a break playlist that includes various alt rock songs.

– Jerry Williams

I look through the Spotify catalogue and choose songs based on the student work we will be discussing on that particular class day. I also like to include former Marymount Manhattan College creative writing students such as Tony Boll’s band The Flops and Jackie Cohen’s solo work. After some initial technical issues, I think I’ve figured out the best way to include these playlists, so I’ll probably keep it up throughout the semester.

– Jerry Williams

Below are links to Professor William’s Spotify Playlist, check them out to see what’s going on in class today.

  • Listen to Break #1 here
  • Listen to In-Class Writing #1 here
  • Listen to Break #2 here
  • Listen to In-Class Writing #2 here
  • Listen to Break #3 here

Thanks to Professor Williams for sharing with us his virtual classroom tips and tricks. We hope you enjoyed this segment of In Class Today and we look forward to keeping you in the loop about classroom happenings. A gentle reminder to be kind, layer up, and wear a mask.

Welcome back to the Meet the Division series! For this week the 255 will spotlight the Chair of the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies department.


Prof Herling is fresh off a two term stint as Division chair! In addition to chairing the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies department, Professor Herling’s teaching and research interests include religious traditions of Asia, philosophies of religion, and a variety of themes in the study of religion. Herling is the author of three books: The German Gita: Hermeneutics and Discipline in the German Reception of Indian Thought, 1778-1831; A Beginner’s Guide to the Study of Religion; and Deliver Us From Evil. Some of Herling’s online work includes a presentation on suffering in comparative perspectives, and his analysis and critique of just war theory.

  • What is your favorite course/subject to teach here at Marymount? Why does this course interest you the most?
    • I don’t think that I have a “favorite”–they all appeal to different interests and approaches. The one that has probably been the most popular over the years is the Nature of Evil; I of course like that the content of the course compels MMC students.
  • What pedagogical approaches do you use when teaching? Why do you believe that this method is the most effective in engaging students?
    • I am old school and do lecture from time to time, but I like that at MMC, a lecture is never really a straight-up “lecture”–it’s an exchange. Discussions are best, however, and recently I have also appreciated the online discussion forums on Blackboard.
  • Why did you choose your individual career and/or field of study?
    • In general, I just knew as an undergrad that I wanted to stay in college forever. How do you do that? Become a professor. I studied religion because it opened so many possibilities, and I was curious about a lot of things. Later, I got interested in the way that religion is positioned in popular and scholarly discourse, and in the way that religion intersects with power–social and otherworldly. 
  • What is your favorite activity to do when you are not teaching?
    • Hanging out with my wife and daughter; travel; craft beer; binge-watching!
  • Do you own any pets? If so, how many? If not, why?
    • No pets. If I had one, it would be a dog, but difficult to have a dog in the city and leave to travel for extended periods in the summer.
  • What is advice would you give to Marymount students in today’s uncertain and rapidly evolving world?
    • As grinding and difficult as this period has been (and will continue to be), persevere. And also, if possible, take this as an occasion to see the world in a different way.

Big thanks to Professor Herling for contributing to our ongoing series! Join us next week as we highlight another faculty in our division. As always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get ready for the sPoOkY sEaSoN.

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.


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.


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.


“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!