The Engaging Humanities Initiative brings together UC Santa Barbara Graduate Student Fellows invested in learning and humanities education. The Fellows for 2020-2021 were:
I’m a PhD student in the Classical Studies Department, though I do visit the Religious Studies department for Sanskrit seminars and classes quite often. I research the development and exchanges of scientific information between Ancient Greece, Rome, and India. I’d like to think that my work is partly comparative, but primarily syncretic. Currently I am focused on the Sanskrit text “Yavana Jātaka” meaning “Greek horoscopy” which is the first text (3-5th century CE) to introduce the 12 zodiac signs and Greek astronomical terminology into an already centuries-old Sanskrit scientific literature. I am also a Crossroads Fellow as part of the “Unconscious Mind” project which studies the human mind through neuroscientific and English literature. I have a B.A. in Latin and a B.S. in Neuroscience from the College of William and Mary which have shaped my interests in interdisciplinary research and teaching and also in the medical humanities. I’m grateful to be part of the Engaging Humanities program and to have the opportunity to work with like-minded people to revolutionize the modern classroom.
I am a Ph.D. student in music theory at UC Santa Barbara where my research interests encompass a wide array of subjects, such as pitch-space analysis, post-tonal Schenkerian analysis, Spectralism, and the intersection of philosophy and music theory (particularly as involves the fields of semiotics, phenomenology, and post-structuralism). I earned my B.A. in Piano Performance, summa cum laude, from Houston Baptist University in 2016 and my M.A. in Music Theory from the University of Washington in 2019. Coming from a liberal arts background, I have a real passion for the humanities and the way that interdisciplinary studies can transform education. I am very excited to have the opportunity to participate in the creative and collaborative work of the Engaging Humanities Initiative.
I came to UCSB to pursue my PhD from my native country, Italy, where I studied Modern and Classical literature for my undergraduate degree. At UCSB I taught a variety of courses ranging from Dante’s Divine Comedy to Greek Mythology. I specialize in ancient Greek performance and my research is focused on the discourse of friendship and empathy, and on the way in which bonds are established or broken on stage. I am also interested in concepts of identity and in the intersection between Classics and civic and social activism. For the past two years, I have collaborated with The Odyssey Project, a theater process between youth from a juvenile detention facility in the Santa Barbara area and undergraduate students from UCSB. Using the template of Homer’s Odyssey, I worked with the students to explore the mythic elements in their lives in order to reconstruct the epic poem in their own voices. In 2019 I was a Public Humanities Graduate Fellow for the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UCSB. As part of my fellowship, I worked as Communications Fellow for New Beginnings Counseling Center, a non-profit organization based in Santa Barbara whose mission is to provide quality, affordable counseling, shelter, case management, and education. I’m looking forward to participating in the Engaging Humanities Initiative and continuing to expand my teaching horizons!
I am a PhD student in the Department of Theater and Dance where I study the relationship between memory, history, and performance. My research explores performance as a technology of both commemoration and forgetting and I am interested in the ways that plays, images, and historical sites work to obscure certain historical narratives and glorify others. As a TA in the theater department, I have seen first-hand that performance enables us to connect with one another, to understand each other, to share knowledge, and to express culture and identity. Because almost none of my students are theater majors, they challenge me to approach theater and performance in interdisciplinary ways and I am excited to continue learning how to make the humanities accessible and engaging for UCSB students.
I am a PhD Candidate in East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies. My research focuses on cultural exchange on and around U.S. military bases in Japan, asking questions of how the militarized context affects how people from the U.S. and Japan imagine and encounter each other. I also have a Global Studies emphasis and I am pursuing a Certificate in College and University Teaching alongside my degree. I came to UCSB from Lakeland University Japan, an American university in Tokyo where I taught U.S.-Japan relations and English for four years. I have taught and TA’ed courses on modern Japan, Japanese language, Japanese history, Asian-American Studies and Global Studies. I love exploring new approaches to teaching and am excited about the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of this program.
I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies. My research interests are modern and contemporary literature and film in mainland China, Taiwan and Japan, trauma and memory studies, emotion studies and gender studies, comparative literature and translation studies. My dissertation project focuses on female figures’ wartime experience and memories of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Asia-Pacific War through discussing three female writers and the cultural phenomena around them and their works, they are, Zhang Ling, Hualing Nieh Engle, and Hayashi Fumiko. My second project for the PhD emphasis of translation studies is translation and canon formation of world literature and how Chinese and Japanese contemporary literature circulates in the English-speaking market. Before coming to UCSB, I have been engaged in teaching English language and culture as a part-time job in universities and training schools. At UCSB, I’ve taught Chinese language as a teaching assistant for one year and as an instructor for one year. I’ve also worked as a teaching assistant for Pre-modern Chinese Literature. I am currently working for the course entitled Pre-modern East Asian Traditions. Teaching has been my dream since childhood and I always aim at improving my teaching skills and offering a better learning experience for students. I am looking forward to joining this great program of the Mellon Engaging Humanities and I wish to learn more from every faculty and cohort!
I am a PhD student in the Music Department’s ethnomusicology program, as well as a participating member of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis in Environment and Society. My dissertation research is focused on the relationships between sound-making practices, listening practices and ecological regeneration and resilience. I approach my work, both in research and teaching, as a scholar-activist committed to anti-colonial modes of research and knowledge production. As a practicing musician, I also study the traditional and contemporary musics of North India, the Middle East, and Greece. I perform in the UCSB Middle East Ensemble as well as the UCSB Hindustani Classical Ensemble. I joined both of these ensembles as an undergraduate at UCSB, where I also earned my B.A. in Linguistics. I am deeply grateful to be a part of the Engaging Humanities Initiative and to be able to learn from and contribute to this innovative community of scholars and educators.
I am a PhD Student in the Department of English at UCSB. Before joining UCSB, I completed an MA and an M.Phil from the University of Calcutta and Jadavpur University, India. My research brings together two of the most interdisciplinary areas of knowledge - the environmental humanities and the digital humanities. More specifically, my dissertation examines the history of animal mediation in colonial South Asia while using an array of methods that include archival, ethnographic, and digital among others. I also work across a number of knowledge practices such as digital projects, online archiving, curatorial work, and filmmaking. An ecological and decolonial framework informs both my research and pedagogical practices often leading to experiments with learning methods and technologies inside and outside the classroom. I look forward to participating in the Engaging Humanities Initiative and learning about how to create more inclusive, interdisciplinary and engaging classroom practices.
Alexandra Lopez Vera
I am a Ph.D. student in the Iberian Linguistic program in the Spanish and Portuguese department here at UCSB. Before starting my doctorate program, I got two bachelor degrees in Education (2012) and English Linguistics (2016) respectively. During my undergraduate journey, I studied in four different universities: Millikin University, Illinois; Newcastle University, England; University of Regina, Canada; and University of Murcia in my home country of Spain. Later, I earned a M.A. in TESOL and Linguistics at West Virginia University (2018). Currently, I am teaching lower division courses of Spanish, and working on my thesis proposal. My main research interest lies in the field of Applied Linguistics. I am interested in Psycholinguistics, Second and Foreign Language Teaching, Cognitive Instructed Second Language Acquisition, Online instruction and Foreign Language Teaching materials.
I’m a Oaxaqueña PhD student in Feminist Studies here at UCSB. My interdisciplinary research project stems from the ways the humanities create language that uncover critical relationships developed in everyday survival and mobilizing. For example, I write and research about indigenous Zapotec women’s transnational experiences, particularly language maintenance to create an archive for new generations. My previous research experience focused on the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance (NDWA), exploring how race/ethnicity and gender become necessary for understanding workers’ struggles within the immigration, labor, and civil rights movements. I received a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz and an M.P.A from Cornell’s Institute for Public Affairs with a minor in Latinx studies. As an Engaging Humanities Graduate Student Fellow, I very much look forward to the opportunity to develop a strong community that is invested in creating innovative pedagogical approaches to critically engage students in the humanities.
I am a PhD student in the English department at UCSB where I study early modern drama and its intersections with sexuality, race, gender, and political expression. I focus on pedagogy, particularly in how our teaching can empower our students, as Co-Lead TA in the English department and also as a graduate teaching fellow for the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s Prison Pedagogy Program. Alongside this I am also a project manager for the English Broadside Ballad Archive, housed at UCSB, and an editorial assistant for feminist film and media journal Camera Obscura. I look forward to participating in the Engaging Humanities Initiative and learning more about how we might get students interested in the humanities.
Taylor Van Doorne
I am a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of the History of Art & Architecture, specializing in the history and theory of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European architecture. My dissertation project, under the supervision of Professor Richard Wittman, examines how ephemeral monuments and festival decorations were deployed in state celebrations in Paris during the First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, and the July Monarchy, as a means of establishing and legitimizing political dynasties on the public stage. In 2016, I received my M.A. in Art and Architectural History from Tufts University after having completed a thesis on the influence of Rousseauian moral philosophy and the themes of collectivity and happiness in Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s ideal city of Chaux. I graduated with my B.A. from Mills College in 2014 with a double major in Art History and English. As an Engaging Humanities Fellow, I look forward to investigating pedagogical methods that prepare humanities students with transferable skills beyond the classroom.
I am a third-year Ph.D. student in the History Department, where I study 20th century U.S. foreign relations and African history. My dissertation project combines social and diplomatic approaches to history and looks at the role, impact, and awareness of the Sullivan Principles, a U.S. code of conduct for multinational corporations operating in South Africa during the apartheid era. Through a mixed-methodological and multi-site framework, I deploy archival research and oral history to better understand how the Sullivan Principles filtered down, making an impact from state level policy to the lives of everyday South African workers. Prior to my time at UCSB, I earned my M.A. in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow. I received my B.A. in History from North Carolina State University. I am a firm believer in the value of an interdisciplinary education, and am interested in how humanities courses can bridge different disciplines and spread beyond the classroom. I have worked as Teaching Assistant in World, African, and American History courses, which has solidified my love for teaching. I am excited to work with the Engaging Humanities program and continue improving my teaching while helping others reach their goals!
I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at UCSB where I study medieval literature, theories of gender and sexuality, and cognitive studies. My dissertation research examines texts by medieval women writers through the lens of gender, affect, and cognition as a way of recovering lost epistemologies and challenging western canonical notions of premodern gendered literary communities. Prior to coming to UCSB, I completed my Master’s in English Literature at NYU, but before that I performed as a professional ballet dancer for several years. As a dancer and nontraditional student, I am very interested in how the humanities can help students cultivate critical thinking skills by prompting interdisciplinary conversations that span across historical periods and geopolitical boundaries. During my time here at UCSB, I've had the opportunity as a Crossroads Fellow to explore this interest further by developing an understanding of interdisciplinary pedagogical practices that bridge the humanities and sciences together. I look forward to continuing this pedagogical work with my fellow Mellon Engaging Humanities scholars so I can serve my students as best I can!