Faculty and Staff

The Engaging Humanities Initiative brings together UC Santa Barbara faculty and administrators invested in learning and humanities education. Collaborators include:

Linda Adler-Kassner's portrait

Linda Adler-Kassner

Principal Investigator of Engaging Humanities

Elina Salminen's portrait

Elina M. Salminen

Activity Coordinator

Portrait of Mary Hancock

Mary Hancock

Acting Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts

Portrait of Alicia Boswell

Alicia Boswell

History of Art and Architecture

Portrait of Janet Bourne
Portrait of Risa Brainin

Risa Brainin

Theater and Dance

Portrait of Argyro Katsika

Argyro Katsika

Linguistics

Portrait of John Majewski

John Majewski

History

Portrait of Kathleen M. Moore

Kathleen M. Moore

Religious Studies

Portrait of Glyn Salton-Cox
Portrait of Katherine Saltzman-Li

Katherine Saltzman-Li

East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies

Portrait of Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Film and Media Studies

Linda Adler-Kassner portrait

Linda Adler-Kassner

I’m a professor in the Writing Program at UCSB. I’ve been here for 10 years, but teaching for almost 30—I came to UCSB from Eastern Michigan University (and U. of Minnesota before that), but I grew up in Albuquerque. I have two roles in this grant. First, I’m very excited to be team-teaching with Peter Bloom in an EH Learning Community in Fall 2019. My discipline goes by a couple of names: composition and rhetoric, or writing studies. One of the many things I love about being in my discipline is that we look closely at something people often take for granted: writing. Super broadly, we look at writing as a subject of study and as an activity. This opens up lots of really fantastic questions to explore—for instance: how is “good writing” defined in different places, by whom, and for what reasons? How do ideas about “good writing” differ in different places? I’ve been teaching and studying questions like these for about 30 years. I often teach first year writing (aka freshman composition). I’m excited to explore questions related to “attention” with students and with Professor Bloom in our EH Learning Community! In addition to teaching the learning community, I am one of the leaders of the Engaging Humanities initiative, so you can talk with me (or Dr. Elina Salminen, who works on the initiative as well) about any part of the project. When I’m not teaching, conducting research, or doing other school-related things, I really enjoy cycling, being outdoors, and eating!

Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning (CITRAL)

Portrait of Elina Salminen

Elina M. Salminen

I’m the Activity Coordinator for Engaging Humanities, helping facilitate all aspects of the initiative. I’m brand new to UCSB and look forward to getting to know the university and all of you! Before coming to Santa Barbara, I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, where I studied burials from northern Greece to learn about the lives of women and children in the region 2,500 years ago. I’m also interested in community-based learning and collaborating with off-campus communities. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and binge-watching YouTube videos of dogs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or just for a chat: salminen@ucsb.edu.

Debra Blumenthal

Heather Blurton

I teach medieval literature in the English Department, and I am affiliated with the interdisciplinary programs in Medieval Studies and Comparative Literature here at UCSB. I specialize in the literature of (what used to be called) the renaissance of the twelfth century, and I am particularly interested in the relationships between romance, historiography and saints’ lives. Most recently, I have been thinking and writing about antisemitism in the Middle Ages, and its relation to mainstream literary culture.

Portrait of Alicia Boswell

Alicia Boswell

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture. Trained as an archaeologist, my research examines relationships between and within culture groups in the ancient Americas through material culture. I am currently writing a book about the making, display, and meaning of symbols of power in the Moche world. The Moche were a society that thrived on the north coast of Peru during the first millennium (and some think they may have invented surfing). I am also interested in contemporary archaeology and what all of our “things” say about us. In my classes I often ask students to think about what we can learn from objects - the object itself and the society it was part of.

Janet Bourne's portrait

Janet Bourne

I am an Assistant Professor of Music Theory as well as founder and director of the UCSB Music Cognition Lab. I am interested in who is listening and why, from a cognitive perspective, listeners find certain interpretations of music intuitive. My publications examine a wide range of topics, including why we hear music as ironic, connections between music and language, and film music. Right now I’m working on a book titled Beethoven Speaks, Who Listens? Experience, Cognition, and Meaning which describes a cognitively-based framework for analyzing music from the perspective of different listeners and various modes of listening. My second book will analyze representations of race and gender in film music. In terms of teaching, I am interested in the psychology of how students learn, ways to give students agency, interdisciplinary teaching, engaging the community, and gamification.

Portrait of Risa Brainin

Risa Brainin

I am a freelance director, Professor of theater and Founder/Artistic Director of LAUNCH PAD, an artist residency and performance program for new plays housed in the Department of Theater and Dance at UCSB. I served as Artistic Director for Shakespeare Santa Cruz; Associate Artistic Director for Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Indiana Repertory Theatre; and Resident Director and Associate Company Director for the Guthrie Theater. Other regional theaters include: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Clarence Brown Theatre, Great Lakes Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Portland Stage Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Syracuse Stage and many more. I am a member of the National Theatre Conference and was recently inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Finally, I am a proud graduate of the Carnegie-Mellon University Drama Program. www.risabrainin.com

Portrait of Juan Cobo Betancourt

Juan Cobo Betancourt

I am a historian of race, language, religion, and law in 16th and 17th-century Latin America, particularly the region then known as the New Kingdom of Granada (now much of modern-day Colombia). My current work explores the way that indigenous people in this region interacted with Christianity in a period when Spaniards sought to use it to incorporate them into colonial society, and when Christianity itself was undergoing profound changes. Alongside this work, with my non-profit foundation Neogranadina, I also work to digitise the holdings of endangered archives and libraries in Latin America, to make the results freely available online, and to develop digital humanities projects to bring them to new audiences.

Portrait of Argyro Katsika

Argyro Katsika

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and founder and director of the UCSB SPArK (Speech, Prosody and Articulatory Kinematics) Lab. My work focuses on speech production and prosody, a term that encompasses the rhythmic, temporal and tonal properties of speech. I am fascinated by speech; it is so natural that it feels simple, yet it involves a complex system of body organ movement and coordination, which is, in turn, shaped by a complex, multi-level linguistic structure, what we call grammar. I am intrigued by how this shaping works. What is the architecture of prosodic structure? What aspects of prosodic structure are universal, remaining constant across the languages of the world, and what aspects are language-specific? What is the role of prosody in discourse making and talker-to-talker, verbal and no verbal, interactions? How is discourse flow preserved and what are the sources of communication breakdowns? My research addresses these (and other) questions, by the means of a wide range of experimental tools (I prefer to call them toys, because they are so much fun to use!) that examine the movement and coordination of the speech organs and their acoustic and visual products across languages and populations. I believe that, in this way, a direct window could be opened onto speech production and language processing, and essentially to human cognition and social interaction. 

Portrait of John Majewski

John Majewski

I am a Professor of History, where my teaching and research focuses on nineteenth-century U.S. history, particularly slavery and the Civil War. Most of my writing is centered on the interaction of economics, politics, and culture. I am currently writing a book on “Creative Capitalism and the Civil War,” which looks at the emergence of widespread creativity in the northern economy and why southern enslavers found that creativity so threatening. I am especially interested in the fusion of engineering, scientific, and artistic imagination that was essential to expansion of creative industries such as publishing, photography, and music in the 1840s and 1850s. Why were such industries central to the antislavery movement?

Portrait of Kathleen M. Moore

Kathleen M. Moore

I am an interpretive social scientist who likes to raise questions about normativity and how difference is made, and about how law and religion shape our everyday experiences probably more than we realize. I have conducted research on a range of topics including shari’a in contemporary California, constructions of otherness in the legislation and implementation of U.S. immigration policy, and Muslim life in the United States and Britain. My work has been supported by grants from the Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation. My courses focus on law and the Muslim ‘diaspora’ in the west, religious liberty, and church/state relations. I am also an associate dean and, in that capacity, I am creating a legal humanities initiative that will identify a coherent set of law-related courses in the humanities (a new minor in the works) and provide undergraduate internship and research opportunities. Stay tuned for announcements of a launch date!

Portrait of Glyn Salton-Cox

Glyn Salton-Cox

I am Associate Professor of English and Affiliate of History and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research interests include Marxism, queer theory and its relation to social history, 1930s literature, Weimar Berlin, Soviet aesthetics, twentieth-century British comedy, and comparative urbanisms. My monograph, Queer Communism and the Ministry of Love: Sexual Revolution in British Writing of the 1930s (Edinburgh UP, 2018) examines queer writers of the 1930s who engaged with Communism, including Christopher Isherwood, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland, and Katharine Burdekin. With Leo Mellor, I guest edited a special edition of Critical Quarterly on "The Long 1930s" (October 2015). I am currently working on book projects on the intellectual, literary, and cultural history of the lumpenproletariat as an alternative genealogy of the revolutionary subject, and on British comedy's compensatory responses to decolonization.

Portrait of Katherine Saltzman-Li

Katherine Saltzman-Li

I am a scholar of premodern Japanese performing arts and literature. I have published on playwriting in early-modern kabuki (Creating Kabuki Plays, 2010), professional texts and commercial materials related to kabuki theater, and Japanese theater woodblock prints, also co-curating two museum exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on theatre prints. Most recently, I have co-edited a volume on war memory in Japanese culture during the centuries of samurai rule (forthcoming, Cornell University Press) and written on a genre of kabuki plays developed in the 19th century (Mime Journal, Vol. 27, February 2021). I am currently at work on a co-edited volume on theatrical realism in East Asia, and am also a director of Japanese Performing Arts Research Consortium (JPARC), an international group of scholars devoted to research and the development of online resources on Japanese performing arts.

Portrait of Martha Sprigge

Martha Sprigge

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music. I played violin and piano throughout high school and college, but in the early years of my undergraduate degree I became drawn to exploring the historical contexts in which music is created, performed, heard, and circulated, as well as asking questions about the act of writing music history itself. This led me to pursue degrees in music history and theory, and I now teach music history here at UCSB. My research focuses on how individuals and communities use music as an expression of—and a way to react to or process—mourning, grief, loss, and trauma. I recently completed a book about musical mourning in East Germany (the communist state founded in the wake of World War II, which dissolved with the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1990). I have just started a new project that focuses on gender and mourning, looking at the ways that the central role that female widows have played in curating histories of twentieth-century music. In both my research and in my classes, I like to think about how music carries meanings for the individuals and communities who engage with it, and how those meanings have shaped what we know about the musical past.

Portrait of Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

I am Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies (and an affiliate of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies) at University of California, Santa Barbara. My research interests include film and media theory, Japanese cinema, documentary films, Marxism, and postcolonial theory. Trained both in Japan and The United States, I have published on issues such as the Japanese reception of early American cinema, wartime Japanese-German film co-productions, media theory and practice in 1950s Japan, recent Hollywood blockbuster films, and Fredric Jameson and his theory of postmodernity. My recent monograph, Dialectics without Synthesis: Japanese Film Theory and Realism in A Global Frame (California, 2020), explores Japan’s active but previously unrecognized participation in the global circulation of film theory during the first half of the twentieth century.

Portrait of Kim Yasuda

Kim Yasuda

I am an artist and professor of Public Practice in the Department of Art at the University of California Santa Barbara. My work investigates the role of art, artists, and educational institutions in community development and civic life. My past exhibition work has been presented at museums and alternative spaces in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Art in General, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art@ Champion, CT; Massachusetts Institute of Technology List Visual Arts Center, Boston; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; Camerawork Gallery, East London. I have been the recipient of individual artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, US/Japan Foundation, Howard Foundation, Art Matters, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation. My previous commissioned public projects include station designs for the Broad Street Corridor transit system in Providence, Rhode Island, the Green Line Vermont Metrorail, and Union Station Gateway Center for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Los Angeles. My permanent commemorative works are part of the public art collections for the cities of St. Louis, San Jose, and Hollywood, designed to preserve the cultural legacies and local histories of these communities. My current research intersects my university teaching with my public art practice, shaping pedagogical experiments that explore the intersection between institutional knowledge production and creative practice. I and my students have undertaken numerous projects together, working on temporary public interventions and permanent urban renewal projects in the student community of Isla Vista. These open-access, collaborative learning environments maintain a separate academic calendar and curricula to conduct year-round, off-site, and multi-disciplinary projects.