Dean Joye Bowman and the HFA associate deans and department chairs welcomed a new cohort of faculty during its annual HFA New Faculty Reception on Monday, Sept. 18. During the ceremony, HFA faculty award winners were also recognized for their accomplishments during the past academic year.
New HFA Faculty Members
David Swiderski is a lecturer in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. As a proud PhD alum, he is thrilled to return to the vibrant intellectual milieu and collegial embrace of the Du Bois department, having previously taught at Mount Holyoke and Hampshire Colleges, and Wesleyan University. Broadly trained in African American Studies, Swiderski’s current research project is a social history of the grassroots movement for Black liberation in Cleveland, Ohio, during the 1960s. Both that work and his time in the classroom are animated by the critical importance of disseminating knowledge of African American history as broadly as possible, especially now. Indeed, the fundamental lessons of that history regarding the tenuous promise of American democracy—and the perils of betraying that promise—are as keenly relevant to our present moment and the lives of young people assuming responsibility for our collective future as they have ever been. It is with that sense of urgency and purpose that he looks forward to his work at UMass this year.
Bianki Torres is a lecturer in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. Originally from Providence, R.I., he double majored in history, with a focus in Latin America, and Africana Studies at Rhode Island College. After a year hiatus from academia, he returned to school to receive his master’s in Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, with a focus on African American music history. Much of Bianki’s interests have been guided by his journey in higher education and exposure to various fields. Some of these interests include Black feminisms, Marxism, Black Radical Thought, Decolonial Praxis, Prison Abolition and, very recently, Black Trans Studies.
Hellen Awino is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture.
Roopa Vasudevan, assistant professor in the Department of Art, is a South Asian-American new media artist, computer programmer, and researcher. Her work examines social and technological defaults; interrogates rules, conventions, and protocols that we often ignore or take for granted; and centers humanity and community in explorations of technology’s impacts on society.
Vasudevan has exhibited her work internationally, and she has participated in residencies, taught workshops and classes, and spoken about her practice around the world. She has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to artist-led organizations, and has frequently worked with or exhibited in spaces that exist peripherally to mainstream institutions, including Flux Factory (Queens); SOHO20 Gallery (Brooklyn); SPACES (Cleveland); ABC No Rio (New York); AUTOMAT Collective (Philadelphia); Public Works Administration (New York); Space 1026(Philadelphia); Unrequited Leisure (Nashville); Icebox Project Space (Philadelphia); Dunkunsthalle (New York); and Vox Populi (Philadelphia), where she was a member of the artist collective between 2019 and 2023.
She was an Eyebeam Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future Fellow in 2020; is currently a community member at NEW INC, the art and technology incubator at the New Museum (New York, N.Y.), where she was a member of the Art & Code track (in partnership with Rhizome) between 2021 and 2023, and a recipient of the Next Web Seed Grant in 2022; and is a co-investigator on the Data Fluencies Project, an international research team funded by the Mellon Foundation, through which she will be curating three exhibitions in 2025 on the poetics and possibilities of data.
In 2023, Vasudevan earned her PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation (and current book project) explores the complex and involved relationships between new media artists and the tech industry. She received an MPS from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2013 and was selected as an ITP Resident Research Fellow in academic year 2013-14. Between 2016 and 2018, she was an assistant arts professor of Interactive Media Arts at NYU Shanghai.
Joseph Wilson joins UMass Amherst as a lecturer in the Department of Classics. Wilson is a broadly trained archaeologist who most recently served as a Lecturer at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He earned a doctorate from the University of Florida, and master’s degrees from Michigan Technological University and the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies. His research addresses long distance cultural exchanges in ancient Eurasia through the analysis of material culture, technology, and religion.
Elizabeth Jacob, assistant professor in the Department of History, is a historian of modern West Africa, with a focus on gender, family, and politics in Côte d’Ivoire. Her current book project examines how ideas about African motherhood shape possibilities for women’s political action, and how expectations of political motherhood change over time. Other research interests include decolonization, pan-Africanism, and global feminisms.
Her research has been supported by institutions such as the American Philosophical Society, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Fulbright Program, and the Stanford Humanities Center. She holds a PhD in History from Stanford University, with a PhD minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a certificate in African Studies. In 2022-23, she held a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Providence College.
Jessica Keene joined UMass as a lecturer of history and Undergraduate Career Advisor for the College of Humanities & Fine Arts in January 2023. In her role, Keene teaches courses in early modern European history and world history, as well as careers courses designed to assist history and HFA majors acquire the professional competencies they need to succeed in today’s evolving job market.
Keene is in the process of completing her book manuscript, ‘Spiritual Fornication’: Sexual Discourse and the Dissolution of the English Monasteries. Her first scholarly article was released from the Sixteenth Century Journal in March 2023. She co-authored a public-facing piece entitled “The Tudors are Trending” in September 2020 for the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History series.
Prior to her arrival at UMass, Keene served as assistant professor of history at Georgian Court University, a small liberal arts college in New Jersey. She previously taught courses in history, expository writing, and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University. She completed her PhD at Johns Hopkins University in 2020.
Brenna M. Casey is an assistant professor in the Department of English. Casey’s research and teaching interrogate the transnational routes of American literature and visual culture during the long nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is currently at work on a book project that tracks the collusion of early photography with the consolidation of racial categories and governmental border controls during the first hundred years of the medium.
Casey received BAs in English and Hispanic Studies from Boston College; an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame; and a PhD with a certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. She has previously taught in the Department of English and the program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University, the Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and English at Wake Forest University; and the English Department at Kenyon College.
Her academic work has appeared in ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth Century American Studies, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and African American Review. Her public-facing work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Assembly, and The New York Times, among others.
Assistant Professor in the Department of History Matthew Wormer is a historian of Britain and the British Empire, with a particular focus on the British presence in Asia during the long nineteenth century. His research and teaching interests include histories of capitalism, race, and labor, commodities and consumption, and liberal economic and political thought.
His current book project examines the production and sale of opium in British India to offer a new explanation for the outbreak of the First Opium War in 1839. At once a powerful medical analgesic, an addictive recreational narcotic, and an immensely profitable article of trade, opium raised fundamental questions about the relationship between use value and exchange value central to capitalist exchange. Transforming the plant known as papaver somniferum into the commodity “opium” entwined ideological debates over liberal political economy with the material properties of the poppy, making its production a site of moral contestation over economic value involving peasant cultivators, private traders, and colonial officials.
Wormer’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Foundation, among others. He completed his PhD at Stanford University in 2022.
LANGUAGES, LITERATURES, AND CULTURES
Jee Hyun Lee
A lecturer in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Jee Hyun Lee holds a PhD in Korean Linguistics from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and a master’s in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before joining the UMass Amherst Korean program, she taught at Harvard University and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her research interests include pragmatics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and second/heritage language learning and pedagogy.
LANGUAGES, LITERATURES AND CULTURES
A native of the southwest of France, Julie Roy received a BA and MA in ESL from the University of Nantes, a MAT in French and Francophone Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a PhD in French from Johns Hopkins University. She has taught in France and the United States, at the University and K12 levels. She has also worked as the academic director for the Middlebury Interactive Languages program, where she trained and supervised teachers.
Her teaching and research interests include second-language acquisition, content and language integrated learning, digital humanities, and children’s and adolescent literature. She loves teaching languages and finding new ways to make them engaging and relevant to today’s society.
Her doctoral dissertation, entitled Thresholds and Reconnections: The Creation of the Child in Comparative Children’s Literature, investigated the psychological and educational repercussions of children’s literature (of the French and English languages) on the audience it mobilizes. One of the chapters looked at how languages, first and second, are acquired and manipulated, at the crossroads of the verbal and the visual, with an emphasis on the complex role of humor. Roy analyzed the wide range of voices that can be assigned to children, and the fruitful articulation between fictional play and the acquisition of linguistic skills.
In her spare time, she likes to try her hand at fiction, and her first short story, “Débris,” was published in 2022.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Dance Catrina Kim joins the UMass Amherst faculty from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she has served as assistant professor of music theory since fall 2020. Previously, she taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Eastman School of Music, where she completed her PhD. Her research interests include Hensel’s treatment of the sonata, the relationship between music theory pedagogy, service, labor, diversity, and feminist thought; and running music.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Lindsay Pope is an assistant professor and director of choral studies at UMass Amherst, where she conducts the Chamber Choir and teaches conducting. She previously directed the choral programs at Williams College and Mount Holyoke College and served as assistant conductor for the Dallas Symphony Chorus.
Pope completed her doctorate in choral conducting at the University of North Texas. Her dissertation on living composer Reena Esmail received the Herford Prize for outstanding doctoral terminal research in choral music. Lindsay sings professionally with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, True Concord Voices, and the Handel + Haydn Society Chorus. She has a master’s in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Mount Holyoke College. She lives in Williamsburg, Mass., with her partner, Jonathan, and their child, Heron.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Alan Reese joins UMass Amherst as a lecturer in the Department of Music and Dance. Reese is a music theorist specializing in post-tonal analysis, as well as music and politics. His work can be found in Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, and Expanding the Canon: Black Composers in the Music Theory Classroom. He has also presented research at meetings for the Society for Music Theory, Theorizing African-American Music, and at various regional conferences.
Meet the Visiting Scholars
MFA FOR POETS & WRITERS
Monica Brashears is an Affrilachian writer from Tennessee. She is a graduate of Syracuse University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Nashville Review, Split Lip Magazine, Appalachian Review, The Masters Review, and more. House of Cotton is her first novel. Her short story, “The Skittering Thing,” will be featured in The Black Girl Survives in This One: Horror Stories (Flatiron, 2024).
MFA FOR POETS & WRITERS
Bianca Stone is the author of the poetry collections What is Otherwise Infinite (Tin House, 2022) which won the 2023 Vermont Book Award; The Möbius Strip Club of Grief (Tin House, 2018), Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Octopus Books and Tin House, 2014) and collaborated with Anne Carson on the illuminated version of Antigonick (New Directions, 2012). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the Best American Poetry anthologies, and The Nation. She is program director at the Ruth Stone House (501c3) and hosts the Ode & Psyche Podcast.
Meet the Teaching Award Winners
Young Min Moon
2022-23 Distinguished Lecturer; Distinguished Professor
Young Min Moon is a visual artist, critic, curator, and art historian whose work reflects his migration across cultures and his awareness of the hybrid nature of identities forged amid the complex historical and political relationships between Asia and North America. Moon published his essays on contemporary Korean art in a wide range of publications, and he is an editor for the online peer review journal Trans Asia Photography. He curated the traveling exhibition, “Incongruent: Contemporary Art from South Korea,” with an accompanying bilingual Korean and English publication.
Moon has shown his art in many exhibitions in South Korea and North America. In recent years he has been painting the motif of the offerings and prostrations for the dead in the Confucian ritual, Jesa. In addition to his recent recognitions, Moon is a recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship and Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.
As of September 2023, Edie Meidav directs the MFA for Poets and Writers. In 2023, she was named a Provost Professor, a Rockefeller Fellow in residence at the Bellagio Center in Lake Como, Italy, and her 2022 novel ANOTHER LOVE DISCOURSE has been named a finalist for the Big Other and Indie awards. An excerpt from the Rockefeller novel comes out in the fall issue of the journal Conjunctions. She continues work from the MFA with Radius, an outreach program she founded in partnership with the UMass President’s Office, NEPR, the Care Center of Holyoke, and current partners the Northampton Recovery Center, Afghan University Women, and carceral institutions.
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
2022-23 Distinguished Lecturer
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is an internationally acclaimed scholar widely known for her work in British literary and cultural studies. Much of her award-winning work explores forgotten lives. Most recently, an updated edition of her book Black London was published in the UK under the new title Black England: A Forgotten Georgian History, with a foreword by Zadie Smith. Gerzina’s work reaches beyond the field of literary studies and has made significant contributions to scholarship in history, art history, and African American studies.
Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
2022-23 Distinguished Teaching Award
Rebecca Lorimer Leonard is an associate professor in the Department of English at UMass Amherst where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on language diversity, literacy studies, writing pedagogy, and research methods. Lorimer Leonard’s current research examines the relationship between community-engaged writing and critical language awareness. She also has published broadly on the transfer of writing knowledge and the multilingual practices of migrant writers.
Lorimer Leonard served as Writing Center Director from 2012-2016 and Writing Program Director from 2020-2022. She received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts in 2017 and the Distinguished Teaching Award from UMass Amherst in 2023.
2023 College Outstanding Teaching Award
Jennifer Nye has more than twelve years of experience as a practicing public interest attorney. Her work within the Department of History is integral to her philosophy of using the law for social justice. Her research areas include critical legal theory; critical race theory; use of the law and litigation by social movements to achieve social and legal change; feminist jurisprudence; LGBT, disability, domestic violence, and reproductive rights laws; and poverty law and public interest law.
She holds a law degree from Boston College Law School and previously taught at the University of Arizona in the Department of Women’s Studies and at the James E. Rogers College of Law. While living in Tucson, Arizona, Nye worked at the Arizona Center for Disability Law where she practiced health and mental health care law and litigated cases at the administrative, state, and federal court levels. She has successfully represented hundreds of adults, elders, and children with disabilities in individual and class action lawsuits challenging Medicaid denials and cuts in services, including several victories at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She began her legal career at Southern Arizona Legal Aid as a National Association for Public Interest Law Fellow (now Equal Justice Works) and staff attorney, where she represented survivors of domestic violence in family law and immigration matters under the Violence against Women Act.
WOMEN, GENDER, SEXUALITY STUDIES
2023 College Outstanding Teaching Award
Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of two collections of poetry and, most recently, The Terrible We: Thinking with Trans Maladjustment (Duke University Press in Fall 2022). His writing has appeared, in various forms, in American Quarterly, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Signs, Poetry and elsewhere, and his work has been supported by fellowships from Cave Canem, Duke University’s program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the ACLS. Presently, he is an associate professor of women, gender, sexuality studies here at UMass.
WOMEN, GENDER, SEXUALITY STUDIES
2023 College Outstanding Teaching Award
Laura Ciolkowski is a writer, book critic, scholar, and passionate leader on feminist approaches to prison education. She is co-chair of the Five College Faculty Seminar on Prison Education and a member of the Massachusetts Prison Education Consortium. As faculty member at the Center for Justice at Columbia, she taught humanities and WGSS courses at Taconic Correctional Facility, a medium security women’s prison in Bedford, New York. She continues to teach college courses in prison and jail facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Ciolkowski is the recipient of a Public Service Endowment Grant for her work in prison education and humanities scholarship. She is also a certified “Inside-Out” prison education instructor.
Outside of academic, her articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, and more.