Welcome back to the 255! In this final week of the semester, we would like to wish all of our students the best of luck getting through their finals, projects, and exams. In celebration of the Winter Break, we are highlighting all of the wonderful holidays that make up this season. No matter what you’re celebrating this season, on behalf of the HUMSOC Division, we send you our best and warmest wishes!!

December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day. Historically, Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in what is now Turkey, in the fourth century, and he had a reputation as a giver of gifts and a defender of children. In time Christians in Europe and further East developed the tradition of leaving their shoes by the chimney in hopes that Saint Nicholas would leave them gifts. In the United States this tradition has not been widely celebrated, and Saint Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus, has become more associated with Christmas than his own Feast Day. This holiday is observed by Christians in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican communions. 

December 10 through December 18 mark Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday. Hanukkah is an 8-day celebration in remembrance of the Maccabean revolt, in which Jewish rebels, let by Judah Maccabee, liberated Jerusalem from the Seleucid dynasty. When the war was won, there was only one small container of consecrated oil with which to purify the temple in accordance with Jewish Law. This oil miraculously lasted eight days, leading to the celebration we have today. Hanukkah is typically observed with friends and family in the home, and involves games and gift giving.  Hanukkah dishes typically consist of sufganiyot, latkes, apple friters, and kugel!

December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a feast of particular importance in Latin American Catholic churches. Our Lady of Guadalupe is another title for the Virgin Mary, who in 1910 was made the Patron Saint of Latin America. According to tradition, Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a poor Aztec Christian, outside of Mexico City on his way to mass. Mary told Juan Diego to tell the Bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill on which they were meeting. The Bishop was skeptical, and required a sign, which Mary provided when she made the hill bloom with roses in the middle of winter. The church that was built on that hill is now one of the most visited holy sites in the world, and pilgrimages to it feature prominently in celebrations of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. The Winter Solstice is celebrated in a variety of ways across cultures, but commonly involves feasting. Yule, which is the Germanic manifestation of Winter solstice, has been revived as part of the neopagan and wiccan traditions. While observations vary, neopagans typically commemorate Yule with feasting and gift giving. Wiccans celebrate Yule as the rebirth of the Great Horned Hunter god, and commemorate with their covens and/or families. Yule is also the origin of some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as the Yule log or the Yule ham.  

December 25 is Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who in Christianity is the Son of God and the Messiah. Christmas is marked by the decoration of trees, gift giving, and general togetherness, and is celebrated across Christian denominations as well as by those who recognize no religious affiliation at all. 

December 26 is the first day of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, who got the name from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” The holiday has its roots in the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was meant to provide African Americans with a way to reconnect with African cultural and historical heritage by study of the Nguzo saba, the seven principles of African heritage. The seven principles are Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to celebrating one of these principles. 

And, finally, December 31 is New Year’s Eve. This is the last day of 2020 in the Gregorian calendar,  and begins the countdown to 2021. 

Again, we would to wish all of our students the happiest of holidays! As you work through this semester’s final stretch remember to stay hydrated and take breaks. As we depart for Winter break we wish you rest and merriment, along with a reminder to be kind and stay safe. We look forward to seeing all of you in the new year and new semester!!

Welcome back to the 255! Again, we would like to wish all MMC students our best wishes in these final weeks of the Fall semester. During this is a stressful time please be sure to take a few moments to care for yourselves. This week we continue our #InClassToday segment. This post highlights the work of Grace Delsohn and Zachary Chamberlain in Professor Jessica Blatt’s Reform and Revolution in Radical New York York City course. Blatt uses a “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy to educate her students on societal structures and relationships. We took to time to interview Grace and Zach to discuss and showcase their work to the entire division. Photos throughout this post were created by Grace and Zach!

Professor Blatt uses “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy in many of her courses, including courses like Playing Politics and America’s Founding that immerse students in critical historical time periods. Below is a description of Blatt’s current Reform and Revolution course:

What is the meaning of citizenship, and who should exercise it? What is economic justice, and how might it be achieved? What sorts of family and sexual relationships nurture and unleash human potential? This course explores how a diverse group of New York intellectuals engaged with such questions in the early twentieth century. These figures confronted a changing world: small-town America faced great cities and hitherto unimaginable contrasts of wealth and poverty. Ideas about American culture were challenged by an influx of immigrants and the claims of women and African-Americans to equal citizenship. Stable social roles were undermined by a new fascination with the Self, a unique identity that had to be discovered, nourished—even created. This course uses a game-based format called “Reacting to the Past” to immerse students in the ideological, artistic, and sociopolitical context in which these challenges played out.

Below are Zach and Grace’s reflections of their work as well as some content the students created throughout the course:

  1. How do you find participating in the interactive pedagogy of Professor Blatt’s course?

Participating in this class has been a lot of fun and a highlight of my week. It makes zoom class more engaging. It forces you to pay attention because the stakes are high at this moment in history, and everyone gets in to it. Everyone usually says or presents interesting and fun things. We have costumes and props. We present creative work, play games, debate, and discuss. 

Grace Delsohn

I took a game class with Professor Blatt last semester which is what led me to taking this one this year. To talk about the pedagogy and structure of this class tells its own story for my wanting and willingness to take another game class with her. With the zoom format, it is obvious that it is changed from the in person style. Luckily for us, the class becomes more interactive with one another, since the chat function in Zoom grants us the ability to ask questions during speeches, have relevant conversations with one another, as well as giving a platform for those that do not like to speak up as much a better chance at participating. I enjoy the pedagogy of Professor Blatt’s teaching, as well as the class itself as it works really well with the online format. 

Zachary Chamberlain
Cubist Painting – Grace Delsohn

2. How does this educational approach differ from a traditional lecture course?

It differs in the sense that it is more interactive and more personal. We all have personal goals and assignments, and it makes things be a bit competitive too. I know so much about this time period and it is rooted in my brain like stories I have been told, or things I have lived through. Other lectures, I tend to forget material after the test or paper is due, but this is not about memorizing. It is about learning, applying, and then fighting for your goal.

Grace Delsohn

This is not your typical, run of the mill college course. Most classes are spent with us having conversations, better worded, critiques with one another as opposed to the traditional lectures that are in many other classes. What I take away from this class in particular is that history is living within us. We the students take on roles that are based on historical figures, giving us the ability to see a time period from an individualistic perspective as opposed to studying it in an overview which I know is not very fun. When looking at other PS classes that I have taken besides the theoretical classes, I learn much more with the interactive structure rather than reading and lecturing.

Zachary Chamberlain
Zachary Chamberlain’s Presentation on the Suffragette Cook Book (here)

3. What are your highlights and takeaways from the class?

My favorite parts of this course were the movies we watched in preparation for the game, it made me feel very connected to the world and able to visualize events. I also loved the “heckling game”, where we heckled the labor faction like people did when they were in the streets. Mainly, I am taking away how to gain support for a movement, how to organize, what worked and what did not in history, and how to work with people to achieve radical change. These are all crucial with the current social justice movements in 2020, and now I feel more prepared and confident to get involved.

Grace Delsohn

So far, the highlights and takeaways from this class are that it gets people more comfortable with public speaking. After taking this class, as well as the game class last semester, I was always nervous giving presentations and thinking that I would fail. I still do get nervous, but after these I trust in myself as a speaker and presenter more. My confidence has been boosted as well as my physical ability to do so. I also have enjoyed learning about 1910’s America. I did not know that there were so many Progressive thoughts going around and it really changed my perspective of the country, specifically in New York, where women’s rights were becoming more and more important as well as labor rights for the country. 

Zachary Chamberlain
Watch and listen to Zach’s musical recreation here!

We would like to thank Zach and Grace for sharing their thoughts on the course as well as allowing us to showcase their work. We are happy to hear your positive reflections and takeaways. Congratulations to Professor Blatt for engaging students in such innovative ways. Finally we would like to gently remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, and always look for new ways to learn!

Welcome back to the 255! As we quickly approach the end of the semester, we would like to remind our students to take time for themselves to get through the challenging and stressful final stretch of the Fall term. This week would we are highlighting a college wide program launching in Spring 2021. 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In commemoration and honor of the women whose work led to the amendment’s ratification and those who continue to struggle for its decolonization, the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Departments are collaborating with departments across the college to create the “Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy”!

The Suffrage Academy is an interdisciplinary curriculum across all of MMC’s Divisions such as Art, Dance, Business, Communications, and History. All Divisions are hosting courses for the Suffrage Academy that directly or indirectly discuss the history of suffrage. In recognition of the contested history of suffrage, the program is dedicated to Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist, who embodied both that passionate dedication to the cause and that critical spirit that seeks to make it deeper and more just. In order to further promote the program, we reached out to one of its primary coordinators, Erin O’Connor, to learn more about the Suffrage Academy and how students can participate.

  1. What is suffrage and why does it warrant this type of ongoing interdisciplinary scholarship?

Suffrage is the right to vote, straightforwardly. In terms of how it warrants ongoing academy inquiry, I believe it does because the sphere that we enfranchise as the rights to vote is in need of ever expanding. The inclusion can never be exhausted. The inquiry into suffrage stands today in that regard. Specifically, I think of the recent scholarships of the intersection of racial justice and climate. For example, I am teaching a class on Trans-Species Suffrage that is an inquiry into multi-species democracy. What would it look like if a tree had the right to vote? How does that sit in relation to the contested history of suffrage?

2. What is the Sojourner Truth’s Suffrage Academy?

The Suffrage Academy is an interdisciplinary initiative to bring multiple perspectives of the ongoing history of suffrage. That includes courses from across the college in arts, business, communications, international studies, politics and human rights, dance, other fields. I have solicited faculty and asked division chairs to recommend faculty whose courses might be relevant to the issue of voting rights. For example, COMM 363 Black Female Sexuality in Film with Professor Cyrille Phipps, she is not going to do a normative inquiry into suffrage but rather taking a few weeks to look at how do representations of black women in film inform or have they informed suffrage debates. Do they inform how people think of black women’s’ voting rights? Similarly, other examples are Erin Greenwell’s course Video Field Production and Elisabeth Motley’s course Dance Composition II. Both of these courses are very hands on and look at technique and how can we use technique to speak to the topic of suffrage and critique the history of suffrage. There are 15 classes in the Academy. Some of them are immersive and discuss suffrage throughout the entirety of the course and others are labeled connection courses that discus suffrage in an assignment or a few weeks throughout the semester. On the one hand the Suffrage Academy is the interdisciplinary curriculum itself. On the other hand, these courses will be placeholders for our speaker series. The Suffrage Academy is not actually made up but what was already existing in our speaker series. It just needed a name. All of these professors are already talking about social justice and women’s rights in their courses, so it was just natural for us to come together and give it a name. This history is so contested. This program is not seeking a normative dialogue around women’s rights but rather is going to allow us all to learn and grow together.

3. What led to the creation of this intiative across the departments?

Of course, 2020 is the centennial for the ratification of the 19th Amendment. When we were talking about our event series in the fall, it came to light that there was a theme of social justice. We did not seek out this theme but rather it emerged. And for the Spring, Professor Manolo received an email from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard who had curated this 19th Amendment visual archive of the Suffrage Movement. And that little blimp was the impetus for us. It made so much sense – conversations about race and sex coming together. We were already discussing these themes in our classes. So it came up on the heels of the Fall event speaker series and the centennial for women’s suffrage. I think finally a crucial part is the hope to create a space in which difficult contested histories can be unearthed, rearranged, and be put forth anew. I always say the work of decolonization is a life time. We have to decolonize suffrage and decolonize our education around what suffrage looks like.

4. What are some of the courses being offered outside of Politics & Human Rights and International Studies?

In the History Department, we have Lauren Brown teaching a history course entitled American Women’s History and another entitled Monumental Debates. We also have a special faculty member, Ricardo Bracho, teaching Participation in Liberation: Women of Color and Citizenship. In the Business Division we have Professor Lorraine Martinez-Novoa teaching The Social Psychology of Dress. When speaking with her, she found it interesting that how fashion changes in line with these changing perceptions of liberation and freedom. In the Communications Division, there are courses such as Erin Greenwell’s Video Film Production, Sarah Nelson Wright’s Creating the City, Tatiana Serain’s Reporting Gender, and Cyrille Phipps’ Black Female Sexuality in Film. In the Dance Division we have Catherine Cabeen teaching Ethics, Aesthetics, and Gender Representation in the Performing Arts, and Elisabeth Motley’s Dance Composition Course.

5. Are there any courses for students looking for AIP courses? And do you have any favorites that stand out?

The Suffrage Academy is full of AIP courses. We have Reform and Revolution with Professor Jessica Blatt who teaches with a Reacting to the Past Pedagogy that is a EP and UP course. We have many REP courses, Participation and Liberation, Black Female Sexuality in Film, and Professor Brady’s Social Movements course are all REPs. In terms of EPs, there is my Trans-Suffrage course. Professor Nossiff is teaching Politics of Abortion which is a UP course. For anyone looking for AIP courses, the Suffrage Academy has a variety of selections.

We would like to thank Professor O’Connor for answering our questions about the Suffrage Academy. We highly encourage students to take the opportunity to participate in these courses and event series. For students who are interested in the program you can contact Professor O’Connor at eoconnor1@mmm.edu. We look forward to these crucial dialogues around the contested history of women’s suffrage and MMC’s efforts to decolonize it. Lastly, we would like to thank you all for joining us this week. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get ready for the holiday season.

Welcome back to the 255! We would like to wish all of our students a happy Thanksgiving break. This week, we wanted to highlight the reality of the evolution of the holiday commonly known as Thanksgiving. A principle of our Division is to think critically and analytically about the ways in which we perceive things. It is our hope that after reading this post, you too will look at the celebration of Thanksgiving through a new and interesting historical lens! To learn more about the scholarship regarding Thanksgiving, we reached out to MMC’s Librarian, Mary Brown, who specializes in historical archives.

True or nah?

Thanksgiving scholarship is a rich topic. The concept of thanksgiving and the cultural artifact of sharing a meal are both so widespread that one branch of Thanksgiving scholarship is devoted to finding Thanksgivings that took place before the one that became famous, at Plymouth Plantation in 1621.1For some scholars, the first Thanksgiving doesn’t matter so much as how Americans have reshaped the holiday to suit their purposes; The American Presidency Project has a blog surveying presidential Thanksgiving proclamations from George Washington to Donald Trump, which together have reinforced an image of Thanksgiving as a celebration of peace and prosperity.2 Those who do focus on Plymouth in 1621 have scant primary sources on which to rely: William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Planation and Edward Winslow’s Mourt’s Relations: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622.3 . . . No Wampanoags left a written record.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

George Washington University professor David J. Silverman has tried to reconstruct the Wampanoags’ participation in that first Thanksgiving in This Land Was Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Planation, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.4 . . . The English had demonstrated they were dangerous, appropriating stores of corn the Wampanoags had buried for themselves. And their small numbers did not make them look like powerful allies. On the other hand, their weakness meant they share Ousamequin’s interest in an alliance, and what they lacked in numbers they made up for in new military technology. Plus, given the division of opinion among the Wampanoag, it was important that Ousamequin exercise his role as leader. Accordingly, Ousamequin reached out to the Pilgrims, bringing his men to display his military capability as both tribute an a show of generosity.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

The Pilgrims knew they were a minority faith in their own land and one of many European groups scrabbling to establish themselves on the western Atlantic coast, and they could not afford to ignore Ousamequin’s offer. Their first winter had halved their numbers; the day the Pilgrims hosted Ousamequin and his ninety men there were fewer than fifty Pilgrims—men, women, and children. The first Thanksgiving may have set a precedent for many future ones in that it may not have been a stress-free gathering, but more like an opportunity for Wampanoags and Pilgrims to size each other up.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

Plymouth’s long-time governor William Bradford died in 1657, and Ousamequin between 1660 and 1662, the new leadership was not like the old, and it faced a new pressure: Puritans, a different group of English Protestants, were arriving en masse in what they called “New England.” Ousamequin’s son and successor, Wamsutta, alienated the Pilgrims by reaching out to this larger and more powerful group, and the Pilgrims turned on him . . . The history of the first Thanksgiving then became two histories. White Americans created a national memory of settlers peacefully enjoying the bounty of the land with “neighbors”. Wampanoag historians mourned the Pilgrims’ arrival as the start of the loss of everything dear to them.5

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

Wampanoag historians rightly point to the great losses that can’t be restored, and to the need to work out a new equity for historically marginalized indigenous people in what’s become the United States. But a first step might be to work our way back in history to a first Thanksgiving when two very different groups of people met each other with respect, however wary, for what each brought to their table and started a working relationship that, however short a period of time it seems for us, was forty years for them.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

A special thanks to Mary Brown for enlightening us with this insight into the scholarship of Thanksgiving. Although the holiday’s history is quite controversial, it has become something central to the United States’ culture. In discussions with students, we inquired how they engage with Thanksgiving. The diversity in response reflects the wide variety of ideas, cultures, and traditions that lie within our school community. Some students stick to a pretty traditional U.S. Thanksgiving celebration, citing classic standbys like mashed potatoes, Mac and cheese, and cranberry sauce. Many students celebrate with food, gifts and music that reflect their family’s ethnic and/or immigrant heritage, and some students don’t celebrate the holiday in any form for cultural or religious reasons. We had some parade enthusiasts, but almost everyone is most excited to get some rest! These conversations highlight how MMC students embody the diversity that is a pillar of our community. Regardless of how you relate to the holiday, we wish everyone a wonderful break and look forward to seeing you all return for fall semester’s Final Stretch. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation during your time off.

Welcome back to the 255! As we enter November, we wanted to bring another segment of our #InClassToday series to showcase the awesome activities going on in our virtual classrooms. Today we highlight Professor Epelbaum’s Writing Seminar, where they welcomed Martha Eddy to lead an experiential workshop. We reached out to some students to hear their takeaways from the event.

Martha Eddy is an international advocate of Somatic Movement Education & Therapy as well as Somatic Movement Dance Education. She is the author of Mindful Movement. The Evolution of the Somatic Arts and Conscious Action in which she defines the origins of a new holistic field, somatic movement education and therapy, and its impact on fitness, ecology, politics and performance. For those who are unfamiliar, Dynamic Embodiment Somatic Movement Therapy is a type of experiential education that conveys how to maximize embodied cognition for deeper psycho-physical understanding.

Dr. Martha Eddy visited Professor Epelbaum’s class to engage students with their whole self in observing and writing, and to explore the differentiation of their ‘writers’ voice through subtle embodiment techniques. Overall, both faculty and student, thoroughly enjoyed the event. Check out what some of the students had to say below.


I really enjoyed the embodiment and writing workshop. It helped me connect my writing, my body and emotions, which is something I never thought about. Dr. Eddy had us walk around and perform movements that we thought related to the word she gave us. After that, we wrote down how these movements made us feel. I loved being able to connect movement with writing and emotions because I think all three of these aspects can help me achieve authentic writing. We also went outside. Here, we listened to Dr. Eddy run us through a sort of guided meditation. Being outside was a different experience because we got to walk around and take in the nature and the vastness of the outside world. Overall, I loved this experience and it made think about writing in a totally different way.

Alexis George

The workshop was extremely beneficial and eye-opening. It allowed me to connect my body to my spirit/mind. It connected writing as thinking as we connected our bodies to our thoughts. Overall, I grew from the experience and I can now express my body through my words and vice versa. 

Hannah Van Gelder

I thought that the video we saw was very inspiring and something that motivated me to make a difference in my future rather than focusing on myself. It made me realize that it’s important to make differences rather than just chasing your dreams.

Anonymous Writing Student

We would like to thank Professor Epelbaum for sharing her in-class activities and Dr. Eddy for bringing her knowledge and research regarding experiential educational learning to the MMC community. We look forward to our next #InClassToday segment as the semester winds down. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and always express yourself.

Welcome back to the 255! We would like to send you all our warmest regards as the seasons continue to rapidly change and semester quickly progresses. This week, we will address the election and encourage of all our viewers to get out there and vote. No matter your political affiliation, it is important that we remind everyone of their constitutional right to participate in our democracy. Taking advantage of this particular moment, we reached out with members of the MMC community and asked them a few questions regarding their prospectives on voting and the upcoming election!

  1. Why do you believe it is important to vote?

I think it is important to vote because the simple action of doing so can set the tone of not only your life but the entire nation. Voting is a form of raising our voices and speaking up for what we care about. And alternatively, not voting is simply not caring about what could happen. Vote even if the aftermath of this election doesn’t seem to affect you, and use that privilege to educate others about voting because at the end of the day, people’s lives depend on it, even if yours doesn’t. Every vote makes a difference and so does yours.

Giselle Caraballo, Psychology Major, Class of 2022

2. What gives you hope and allows you to remain optimistic regarding the upcoming election?

I find hope in seeing the changing world. Each day I am reminded by individuals who raise their voices, amplify their issues, and protest in the streets of the progress that we are making towards a more equitable society. Despite the many times that I become discouraged by the response and actions of our government, I try to focus on the movement and progress we, as a nation, are making. I look to history to remind myself of all of the changemakers that have fought these battles since the beginning of time. I remain optimistic as I find myself following the footsteps of those who have long fought these fights before my generation. I see the change that we as a society are demanding. I see movements such as the Black Lives Matter and Sun Rise and I am given hope that we CAN win this battle. And it is inevitably that hope that I hold on to, because if I didn’t I would forget what I am fighting for.

Dorian Provencher, International Studies and Politics & Human Rights Major, Class of 2022

3. What inspired you to vote this election? What are productive tactics you believe help inspire younger generations to vote?

Voting is the absolute least any of us can do in a democratic society. America has never been a true democracy, and yet throughout history disenfranchised groups have fought to exercise this right. Especially black and brown folks. Voting is how we hold one another accountable, and how we realize the ideal vision of a democratic nation (which, for the record, is more than the original vision of the founding fathers.) Voting is one way we take care of our community, and as we’ve seen, if we sleep on it some will try to make it harder. But they give themselves away. If it didn’t matter they wouldn’t try so hard to stop us from being heard. That’s the truth that is too loud to ignore.

Alexandra Dill, Administrative Assistant for the Humanities and Social Sciences Division

4. Do you consider yourself to be politically active? Why or why not? Has your activity increased or decreased overtime?

I do consider myself to be politically active. Although I definitely was not in high school, I became aware of the importance of politics and the effects that it has on my everyday life. I actually came to MMC to study Theatre Arts, but after a class in International Relations and Politics, I knew that this field of study was the track for me. I believe my engagement with politics has evolved overtime. Though I believe that we need to consistently put pressure on the government – no matter the administration – to uphold and protect our most basic human rights, the Trump administrations horrific actions against minority communities is what pushed me to become more engaged in the political world. No matter the result of this election, I will continually advocate for the protection of all individuals’ basic human rights. It is about time that this nation begins to reflect on the very thing that is embedded at its constitutional foundation “We The People.” I truly believe that the more we demand our government reflect who we are as a nation, the better off this country will be for everyone. And that starts with being politically active.

Dorian Provencher, International Studies and Politics & Human Rights Major, Class of 2022

Thank you to all of the individuals that took the time to answer our questions! We are thrilled to get students perspectives on political participation as their involvement is crucial for the progression of the US democracy. For individuals wanting to know more about the voting process and that it entails, please check out the link [here]. We would finally like to gently remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, vote when called to and stay hopeful.

Welcome back to a very special #shoutout edition of the 255! Today we are congratulating the English and World Literatures Department for landing on College Magazine’s top 10 list of Hermione’s Approved College’s for Bookforms!

We are extremely proud of our bookworm students, and all the work and research of the EWL faculty. New York City is indeed magical and literary, and we applaud and co-sign this recognition. You can check out the full list and glowing details about us here.

Congrats again to the EWL crew! We hope you all have a spooky, spell casting weekend! Use your magic for good, wear a mask, and always share your treats.

Welcome back to the 255. This week we wanted to highlight the ongoing collaborations between the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Departments. This semester the departments have co-hosted events that create dialogue around social justice and activism. In the past, the departments worked with student organizations like the Bedford Hills Program and Social Sciences’ Assembly, forming MMC cohorts to attend marches, events, and protests. In these unprecedented times, the departments still wanted to host these events and create community in virtual spaces. We took the time this week to chat with Associate Professor of Politics & Human Rights, Marnie Brady, to ask questions regarding this series.

  1. What is the PHR/IS Event Series? What inspired the faculty to create this series?

The PHR/IS Event Series is based around being responsive to urgency of our times. As you know this summer we experienced the velocity of the movement for Black Lives Matter. Our departments held a Town Hall with students where they not only showed interest but demanded that we, as a department, engage in these questions and conversations of our time through the perspectives of our fields of study. What we do in our departments is close analyses of these events looking at the contexts and conditions in which they take place and the people and movements that create social change both domestically and internationally. And so, that led to the faculty of Politics & Human Rights and International Studies reaching out and activating the connections to those who we know have been crucial to movement related work both in and beyond New York City. We became active in creating this speaker series which includes voices of people who are working around criminal justice, indigenous rights, land justice, birth and reproductive justice, and questions around social practice and its relation to the arts. We created this series so that we can challenge ourselves to think about the world that we want to see and how we already are actively participating in molding that world.

2. How have you been engaging students with in the virtual space? What challenges have you faced and how have you addressed them?

We are making the event series integral with our departments’ curricula. These are not just individual conversations but rather have been built into many of our PHR courses. This allows for us to continue the dialogue in our class community and allows for students to be able to collectively participate. Rather than it being an additional requirement, it was important for us as a department to make this integral with courses students were taking, so we can continue to foster these conversations beyond the events’ settings. Not only are students actively involved in the series, but also they can think reflexively on how differently guest speakers relate to the topics of our classes and topics. This has been a tremendous opportunity to allow for guest speakers and students all over the world to enter a virtual space and engage in with us. This is a positive feature of the virtual world in that if this were in person, there are many challenges we would face like for example organizing the conversation around land and environmental justice between MMC’s Dejah Bradshaw and leaders of the Landless Movement in Brazil. We wanted to make sure that our connections and networks were still an integral part of our classes and these events. We have had some amazing guest speakers and look forward to the many more to come.

3. Have you had a favorite event throughout the series?

Although I have not been able to go to all of them, I do have to say that the Constitution and Citizenship Day Event was exceptional. It combined the powerful testimony of an MMC alum, Jasmine Valentine, with the powerful leadership of the Bedford Hills Club, Viviana Metzgar . It was wonderful to see a student leader in dialogue with a returning citizen from Bedford Hills talking about these issues and the ways that MMC students in Manhattan can support their fellow colleagues and peers at Bedford Hills and Taconic. That, to me, was really powerful especially within the context of thinking about the issue of criminal justice reform and abolitionist politics at a time of this insurgent Black Lives Matter Movement. That event was so close to home because it is about our students’ lives, at Bedford Hills and Taconic, and it was so wonderful to have an alum from Bedford Hills to speak to those issues.

Thanks to Professor Brady for taking the time to answer our questions. There is no activism without community, and our division will continue to build and grow a community that fosters care and change for one another, and our city/world writ large. We look forward to seeing the rest of the events unfold as the semester progresses. Thank you for joining us again at the 255. We would lastly like to remind you all to be kind, stay safe, and wear a mask when you VOTE!

Welcome back to the 255. As we are speeding through the month of October, we would like to wish our students the best of luck during Midterms season. This week we will feature an exciting in-class activity that boosts engagement during these stressful times.

MMC’s Social Sciences’ Assembly, a student organization that promotes student engagement in the social sciences and social justice, co-hosted an event with the PHR/IS department entitled “How to Defend Democracy.” Professor Annabel Hogg, who’s teaching Political Participation this semester, used her class time to provide a space for this crucial dialogue to take place. Professor Hogg’s class discusses the importance of citizens’ participation in government and its relation to ideas of democracy upon which the United States was founded. Professor Hogg, along side Professor Jennifer Mueller, Chair of the International Studies Division, reflected on the decline of U.S. democracy and its global implications.

The first part of the event featured a common read of Steven Trevitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s “The Crisis of American Democracy.” The second part was a teach-in for participants that explained the ways in which we can actively defend against the erosion of the U.S. democracy. Participants raised concerns over the clear erosion of established democratic norms present within the U.S. government over the last few years. Through dialogue, both professors and students alike compiled collective ways that we, as citizens, can fight back.

We took the opportunity to interview Professor Hogg and hear her insight to the relevance of the event and how she is connecting it to her course.

  1. What motivated you to use class time for this event?

The idea for the teach-in came up during a conversation amongst myself and other PHR professors who felt we needed to set aside special time to discuss the gravity of the moment with students. We thought it was important to create a space to discuss just how critical this election is for a myriad of reasons….creeping authoritarianism in the US being a major one! 

2. How does this event coordinate with what you are teaching in the course?

This event dovetailed nicely with my course on Political Participation in that it addressed some of the key questions we discuss in class like: What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens in this moment? What are the various ways we can engage to help protect our democratic values at a time when they are under threat? If the Trump Administration tries to overthrow the democratic process what can we do?

3. Did the event meet your expectations? Why or why not?

This event highly exceeded my expectations! We had a great turnout and it really felt like students and faculty were working through these tough issues together and making a plan to Defend Democracy! It also felt like a good way for everyone to calm the pre-election jitters we are all experiencing!

We thank Professor Hogg for taking the time elaborate on the event and her class. If you want to learn more about this topic and conversation check out the link here for Levitsky and Ziblatt’s “The Crisis of American Democracy.” Lastly, we would like to thank you for joining us here at the 255. As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get out and VOTE this November!

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!!