The Engaging Humanities Initiative brings together UC Santa Barbara faculty and administrators invested in learning and humanities education. 2020-2021 collaborators included:
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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Majewski is the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and Professor in the Department of History, where he has taught since 1995. He has been an Associate Dean for the division and served as the History Department Chair from 2009 to 2012. Dr. Majewski was a member of the Letters & Science Faculty Executive Committee and the Committee on Research, and served for five years on the campus Program Review Panel. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA, where he won the Allan Nevins Prize in American Economic History for the best dissertation on an American subject. He also received a Howard Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship, the Hubbell Prize for an article on Civil War History, and an Andrew Mellon Research Fellowship from the Virginia Historical Society. His areas of specialization include American economic, social, and legal history; Southern history; and the U.S. Civil War. Dr. Majewski earned the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003. He is the author of A House Dividing: Economic Development in Pennsylvania and Virginia Before the Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2000), Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Imagination of the Confederate Nation (UNC Press, 2009), and numerous articles, reviews, and book chapters.
Anne H. Charity Hudley
I am the Director of Undergraduate Research for the College of Letters and Science, and a North Hall Endowed Chair in the Linguistics of African America in the Linguistics Department. I'm also Faculty-in-Residence in the Santa Catalina Residences and San Joaquin Villages. My research focuses on African-American language and culture and educational linguistics. My research addresses the relationship between language variation and Pre-K-16 educational practices and policies, as well as inclusion in higher education. I have co-authored or edited four books and over 25 articles and book chapters. The focus of my work has been on the actions that educators can take to create high impact inclusive learning environments with students.
I am a historian of science and religion who thinks the past most comes alive through stories that reveal worlds either very different from our own or those that are uncannily similar. I have conducted research on diverse topics including autopsies performed on saints, cannibalism in early modern cities, false saints and the Roman Inquisition, and rising meat consumption in Renaissance Italy. My favorite courses to teach focus on Machiavelli, the Inquisition, daily lives in early modern Europe, and witch trials in the early modern world. In my free time I enjoy running, cooking, reading science fiction, and playing with my two small boys.
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.
Kara Mae Brown
I am an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Writing Program and the program coordinator for the Writing & Literature major in the College of Creative Studies. I am a writer of short stories, personal essays, and exactly one poem. I’ve been working on a memoir for about a decade (trust the process) about avoidance, grief, and climate change. As a teacher-scholar, I’m interested in helping students see the rhetorical value of creative work and the aesthetics of rhetorical work.
I am an Assistant Professor of English at University of California, Santa Barbara, where I research and teach on topics in interactive narrative, electronic poetry, and games, with a particular focus on applying the methods of software studies, critical code studies, and information visualization to the analysis of digital texts. I also serve as faculty director of the UCSB Digital Arts and Humanities Commons, which welcomes and supports interested undergraduates. My work has been supported by agencies including the NEH Office of Digital Humanities, MacArthur Foundation, Mellon Foundation, ACLS, Calit2, HASTAC, and NERSC. I support a global community of first-time programmers and creative coders -- of all ages, and in several languages -- by volunteering with the Processing Foundation. Three fun facts: I'm a dad who reads aloud every night, we have a cat, and I can juggle.
I am a Continuing Lecturer in the Writing Program at University of California, Santa Barbara. My research interests include medical rhetoric, body rhetoric, visual rhetoric, film, and composition. I am especially interested in how medicine and the body intersect with popular culture and media. My book Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss, and Beauty in Popular Culture (January 2014, Routledge) explores the transformation imperatives advertised by the media, especially in the West. As a result of my research interests, I’ve taught classes ranging from the humanities (film, visual arts, and rhetorical theory) to science writing (health professions, social science writing, and science writing for the public).
I am an Associate Professor of Music History. I’m also a graduate of UCSB, where I received my PhD. I started out my academic career focusing on Czech music, but my more recent work is about music and middlebrow culture in the U.S. in the middle of the 20th century. This gives me the opportunity to do research about a range of musicians and settings, from Jewish émigrés playing string quartets in concert halls to African-American singers and jazz combos in nightclubs. My hope is that learning more about how musicians made a living then will help musicians make a living now. I’ve also been very invested in collaborating with performers and working with communities outside of academia. I do talks and events for ensembles and work with community musical organizations in the Santa Barbara area. I’m also an enthusiastic amateur violist and chamber music player.
Profile to come.
I teach in the Writing Program and direct the Professional Writing Minor. My research and publications in literature and philosophy have focused on how language enables identity and desire, thought, and social formations. I’m currently working on an essay on the philosophy of composition. In the variety of writing classes I teach, from business communication to creative nonfiction, I aim to engage students’ current passion and engage them in questions about living a fulfilling post-college life. Outside the university, I like to work with the local Democratic Party, build furniture from reclaimed wood, bake my own bread, and take long walks in the foothills with Maggie, my dog.
I am an art historian in the History of Art and Architecture Department, specializing in the art of fifteenth and sixteenth century Netherlands and Germany, and in the history and theory of museums and collections. Recently I have been working on the origins of museums during the Renaissance and on modern university research collections. I had previous careers as a classical musician, a caterer, a music publisher and a house painter.
Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie
I am a Professor in the History of Art and Architecture department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research focuses on modern and contemporary African art, cultural informatics, and the arts and cultural patrimony of Africa and the African diaspora in the age of globalization. I am the author of Ben Enwonwu, The Making of An African Modernist (Rochester, 2008), and founder-editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture. In addition to my academic work, I am also a curator and cultural entrepreneur.
I teach in the writing program at UCSB, and I have doctorates in English and Psychoanalysis. I am the author of eleven books, including Educating Inequality and Why Public Higher Education Should be Free. Most of my teaching and research deals with interplay among culture, nature, psychology, and literacy.
I teach in the Writing Program and am affiliate faculty at the Center for Digital Games Research. I have a background in creative writing and one of the ways I use that in my teaching is to create games for learning. I study video games, in particular, narrative-driven games and also how strategies used in entertainment games can be adapted for educational purposes. I also write about games and film: I’m currently editing a special issue of the journal Arts titled “The Art of Adaptation in Video Games and Film.” My own article for this issue is about the adaptation of horror films into survival horror games, and how these games teach players to manage their fear and control their impulses.
I am an Assistant Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies and, by affiliation, of Comparative Literature. After receiving my doctoral degree in Chinese Literature from Stanford in 2018, I taught for one year at Middlebury College before moving back to California. I am an adventurous, ever-curious, and life-long student, and hold additional degrees in English Literature, Comparative Literature, and Cultural Studies, as well as a PhD minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I have published on a wide range of topics such as Chinese literature as world literature, environmentalist film, internet poetry, disability, and discourses of humanism. I am completing my first book titled Broken Bodies as Agents: Disability Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Chinese Culture and Literature. Courses and projects that I have taught or directed cover such subjects as modern Chinese literature and film, science fiction, disability history, queer culture, and translation. I received the Centennial Teaching Award from Stanford in 2015. As a first-generation college graduate in my family, I warmly welcome those First-Gen folks to stop by my office if you are seeking mentorship and support.