Next-Generation Dissertations—New Projects for an Engaged Academy

Collage featuring dissertations by several of the event speakers
Monday, March 7, 2022 - 2:00pm

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Dissertation reform is an essential thread in the tapestry of reimagining doctoral education. More and more scholars are finding creative ways to share their scholarly research and intellectual insights in dynamic, engaging forms such as graphic novels, mobile games, documentary films, and more, and are having an impact both within and beyond the academy. Join several humanities and social science scholars and the advisors who have supported them to learn more about these projects and why this kind of work matters.

This event is co-sponsored by the Graduate School at Syracuse University and the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Humanities for the Public Good Initiative at the University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. It celebrates the launch of the Next-Generation Dissertations website (Syracuse) and adds to the ongoing reflections on graduate education reform taking place through the Humanities for the Public Good program (Iowa). It has been coordinated in collaboration with Katina L. Rogers.

This virtual event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Participant Bios

Lisa Diedrich is Professor and Chair of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook University. She received her PhD in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University in 2001. Since then she has taught in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook. Her research and teaching interests include critical medical studies, disability studies, feminist science studies, and interdisciplinary feminist and queer theories and methodologies. She is the author of  Indirect Action: Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, AIDS, and the Course of Health Activism (Minnesota, 2016) and  Treatments: Language, Politics, and the Culture of Illness (Minnesota, 2007). She is also editor (with Victoria Hesford) of the collection Feminist Time Against Nation Time: Gender, Politics, and the Nation-State in an Age of Permanent War  (Lexington, 2008) and a special issue of Feminist Theory, "Experience, Echo, Event: Theorising Feminist Histories, Historicising Feminist Theory" (August 2014). She is affiliated faculty in the Department of Philosophy and with the PhD concentration in Disability Studies in the School of Health Technology and Management.

Sonia Estima is an Associate Professor at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, and currently serves as an Academic Specialist. She supervises the Faculty Development and Immersion programs at the school. She successfully defended her dissertation, Multimodal Meaning Making, in December 2020 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current work and interests revolve around helping teachers become engaged in their own professional development. Looking through the lens and the principles of critical pedagogy, she tries to help faculty reflect on their practice and begin questioning their role in helping students and also themselves become critically conscious and develop a sense of agency in their practice—as teachers working in the classroom, and also as writers and professionals. Watch a video introduction of Sonia Estima from our interview archive, and visit her website to learn more.

Matthew K. Gold is Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). At the Graduate Center, he holds teaching appointments in the Ph.D. Program in English, the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies (MALS), the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities, the M.S. Program in Data Analysis and Visualization, and the doctoral certificate programs in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and American Studies. He is Director of the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities and the M.S. Program in Data Analysis and Visualization. He serves as Advisor to the Provost for Digital Initiatives, Director of the CUNY Academic Commons, Co-Director of the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative, and Director of the GC Digital Scholarship Lab. His collaborative digital humanities projects, including Looking for Whitman, Commons In A Box (with the CUNY Academic Commons team), Social Paper (with Erin Glass), DH Box (with Stephen Zweibel), and Manifold Scholarship (with Doug Armato, Susan Doerr, Zach Davis, and the Manifold Team) have been supported by grants from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation.

Jesse Merandy is the Director of Digital Humanities and Digital Exhibitions (DH/DX) at Bard Graduate Center. He received his PhD from The Graduate Center, CUNY, studying mobile technology, Walt Whitman, and composition & rhetoric.  His dissertation, Vanishing Leaves, is a location-based mobile experience which takes players to Brooklyn Heights to learn about Walt Whitman in the neighborhood where he wrote and published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Watch a video introduction of Jesse Merandy from our interview archive.

Justin Schell is the Director of the Shapiro Design Lab, a peer and engaged learning community in the University of Michigan Library. In addition to his work at the Design Lab, he is a filmmaker, visual artist, and podcast producer. He holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota’s Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society program, where he completed We Rock Long Distance, a multimodal dissertation and full-length documentary film on immigrant hip-hop in Minnesota.

Kay Sohini is a comics-maker and a PhD candidate in English at Stony Brook University. She is currently drawing her doctoral dissertation as a comic, which is an ethnographic project about race, gender, sexuality and illness politics. Recently, her work on comics has been published in Assay: A Journal of Non-fiction Studies, Sequentials, and is about to be published in de Gruyter’s Handbook of Comics and Graphic Narratives and Penn State University Press’s Covid-19 Anthology in 2021. Earlier this year, she received the Edward Guiliano Global Fellowship to fund the fieldwork for her graphic project “Resistance During the Fall of the World’s Largest Democracy” that aims to look at the resistance movement against rising xenophobia in India, which has been exacerbated in the wake of COVID-19. She is also secretary on the executive committee of the International Comic Arts Forum.


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