2018 Activism in Academia II

On February 23, 2018, we hosted our second Activism in Academia event at the Graduate Center. More information on the event can be found below:

Friday, February 23, 2018  The Skylight Room, The CUNY Graduate Center, Room 9100

10:00-11:30    Structural Insurrections in Composition & Rhetoric   

Lisa Blankenship (Baruch): The Personal as Political: Narrative Argument Assignment Design

Jennifer Maloy (Queensborough): Activism in/and Administration

Carmen Kynard (John Jay): #BlackFeminismLooksLike: The Decolonization of Composition Studies and the Movement for Black Lives


11:30-1:00    On-Campus Activism: Protest & Performance    

Monika Bhagat-Kennedy (University of Mississippi): The Controversy over Contextualization: Rethinking Confederate Monuments After Charlottesville

Cristina Pérez Jiménez (Manhattan College): Aquí/Allá ― Caribbean Crisis in the Classroom

Trevor Weston (Drew University): Time-Binding: Composing Music to Document Conflict and Resistance

String Quartet Performance of “UUU” and “Fudo Myoo”

John Henderson, violin     Chris McClain, violin     Tia Allen, viola    Aaron Stokes, cello


1:00-2:00   Lunch Reception


2:00-4:00    Student Panels     Visibility through Scholarship: Undocumented & Unheard Voices

Moderator: Jessica Yood (Lehman)

Lucero Miranda Luna: Not Your Trophy Dreamer

Zoe Fanzo: Assistants or Assailants of Radical Activity?: Queer Student Activism on New York College Campuses

Arlinda Mulosmanaj: A Poet’s Role: Identity, Nationalism, and the Activism of Hysen Mulosmanaj

Nicholas Santiago: To Live Again: Digital Rhetoric and First-Year Composition


4:00-6:00   Activist Archives & Histories

Nermeen Arastu (CUNY Law School): Aspiring Americans “Thrown Out in the Cold”: The Race-Infused Politics of Naturalization

Amaka Okechukwu (George Mason): How We Tell Stories, How We Get Free: Praxis at the Intersection of the Street, Field, & Archive

Simon Reader (Staten Island): 25 Years Queer: The CLAGS Archive of CUNY

Mary Phillips (Lehman): Liberation From Prison: Panther Ericka Huggins Revolutionary Work Behind Bars

Nermeen ArastuClinical Law Professor, CUNY School of Law

Lisa Blankenship, Writing Program Director & Assistant Professor of English, Baruch College

Cristina Pérez Jiménez,  Assistant Professor of English, Manhattan College

Monika Bhagat-Kennedy, Assistant Professor of English, University of Mississippi

Carmen Kynard Associate Professor of English, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Jennifer Maloy, Assistant Professor of English, Assistant Director of First Year Writing, Queensborough Community College

Olivia Loksing Moy, Assistant Professor of English, Lehman College

Amaka Okechukwu, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University

Mary Phillips, Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies, Lehman College

Simon Reader, Assistant Professor of English, College of Staten Island

Dhipinder Walia, Lecturer in English, Lehman College

Trevor Weston, Professor of Music, Drew University

Jessica Yood, Associate Professor of English, Lehman College

Zoe Fanzo, Student Panelist, Lehman College

Lucero Luna Miranda, Student Panelist, Lehman College

Arlinda Mulosmanaj, Student Panelist, Lehman College

Nicholas Santiago, Student Panelist, Lehman College

Nermeen Arastu is a Clinical Law Professor and Co-Director of the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic. Prior to joining CUNY’s faculty, Nermeen was a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP and a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). At AALDEF, Nermeen led the Immigrant Rights Program and Post-9/11 Civil Liberties Project. Through the course of her pro bono work at Simpson Thacher and tenure at AALDEF, Nermeen managed an immigration docket which included deportation defense, suppression, asylum, citizenship and green card interviews and various other immigration processes. Additionally, while at AALDEF, she oversaw monthly immigration clinics in conjunction with various community-based organizations, litigated matters relating to zoning and houses of worship, addressed anti-Muslim bias in the immigration system, and advocated against racial and religious profiling and law enforcement surveillance.

Lisa Blankenship is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a PhD in English, specializing in Rhetoric and Composition. After her doctoral work, she moved in the summer of 2014 from Cincinnati to New York to begin a job as an Assistant Professor of English at Baruch College. She just finished a four-year project, a co-edited, born digital book titled “The Rhetoric of Participation: Interrogating Commonplaces in and Beyond the Classroom,” about participation as a graded component of college writing classes, with Paige Banaji, Katherine DeLuca, Lauren Obermark, and Ryan Omizo. The project, forthcoming from the Computers and Composition Digital Press, an imprint of Utah State University Press, examines the function of assessing a traditionally subjective aspect of pedagogy: the ubiquitous “participation grade,” looking at how such assessment plays out in ESL/transnational contexts, hybrid and online courses, writing programs and writing centers, using a variety of analytical frames such as disability studies, queer theory, feminist theory, and methods from big data analysis.

Zoe Fanzo is a Macaulay Honors student at Lehman College, majoring in history. Since the fall of 2016, she has been the print producer and web designer of the Meridian, the Lehman College newspaper. She is also the co-founder and vice president of Lehman’s LGBTQ+ Alliance. After graduating in 2019, she hopes to become a graphic designer.

Cristina Pérez Jiménez is an Assistant Professor of English at Manhattan College. She specializes in Hispanic Caribbean and U.S. Latino/a literatures and cultures, with a strong subspecialty in theories of race and ethnicity, as well as transnational and diaspora studies. She is the recipient of the 2016 Bancroft Dissertation Prize.

Monika Bhagat-Kennedy is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Mississippi where she teaches courses in postcolonial literature and theory with a focus on South Asia. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and M.A. degrees in South Asian Studies and English from the University of Michigan in 2009. Her research centers primarily on ideas of cultural belonging and nationalism in the colonial-era Indian novel in English. She is also interested in nineteenth-century British philosophies of empire, theory of the novel, trauma studies, critical race theory, contemporary South Asian diasporic literature, and global literatures of protest and resistance.

Carmen Kynard is an associate professor in the English Department at John Jay College. She interrogates race and the politics of writing instruction in secondary and post-secondary settings. She is a former high school teacher with the New York City public schools/Coalition of Essential Schools and has led numerous projects focused on language, literacy, and learning with agencies like the Community Learning Centers Grant Project in Harlem, African Diaspora Institute/Caribbean Cultural Center of New York, Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, and the New York City Writing Project. She has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly and more. Her first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies (SUNY Press, 2013) makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement. She is currently working on a new book that focuses on Black female college students’ writing as sites of recursive memory as well as new research that continues to interrogate educational practices as racialized artifacts. She traces her research and teaching at her website, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (http://carmenkynard.org).

Jennifer Maloy has taught a variety of courses including freshman composition, developmental writing, business writing, creative non-fiction, and introduction to literature at Temple University and Montclair State University before joining the English Department at QCC. She also served as Writing Center Coordinator at Hostos Community College, CUNY, as well as Co-Founder and Director of Temple Writing Academy, a summer writing program for high school students in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on working with developmental and multilingual writers, integrating service-learning and other high impact practices into ESL and developmental writing classes, and designing writing curricula that promotes active investigation of cultural and community issues. Her work has been published in Teaching English in the Two-Year College and the Basic Writing eJournal.

Lucero Luna Miranda is an undergraduate CGI major at Lehman College minoring in Computer Science. She is an IT Technician for the Department of Education and previously worked as a Girls Who Code instructor. She has focused her activism on environmental sustainability, social justice, and education.

Olivia Loksing Moy is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Lehman College, CUNY where she is director of the English Honors Program. Her research interests include Romantic, Victorian and Modernist poetry, poetic theory, and Gothic literature. She is an organizing member of the Victorianist Collective and, along with Dhipinder Walia, serves as a coordinator for this year’s Activism in Academia symposium.

Arlinda Mulosmanaj is an English Honors student at Lehman College. She is currently working on a thesis involving the translation and analysis of a collection of minor literature poems. She is a blogger, editor, and treasurer of Lehman College’s literary and arts magazine Obscura. Her academic interests include Enlightenment and Romantic era literature, digital humanities, and the study of women’s literature. She aspires to one day become a professor.

Amaka Okechukwu is an interdisciplinary scholar engaged in research on social movements, race, community studies, public history, and Black archives. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University. She has served as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University, and as a Social Science Research Council-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Fellow. She received my M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University and my undergraduate degrees in English-Creative Writing and Sociology from the University of Southern California. She is currently completing a book manuscript on grassroots and elite mobilization over affirmative action and open admissions in public universities.

Simon Reader teaches Victorian literature in all genres: novels, poetry, plays, and essays. His research focuses on somewhat scrappier materials, what one might call the rags of the canon: notebooks, manuscripts, drafts, pressed flowers and other weird items found in special collections. He is writing a book, Notework: Aesthetic Inquiries 1829-1914, which argues for the coherence of the nineteenth-century writer’s notebook as a genre. His interests include aesthetic philosophy, book history, queer theory, and poetics.

Nicholas Santiago is an English-Literature Honors student at Lehman College, minoring in Philosophy. His research interests in English include composition, rhetoric, digital humanities and writing/writing center pedagogy, with his Philosophy academic interests in human rights, human nature and meta-ethics. For three years he has worked as a writing and philosophy tutor at Lehman’s tutoring center. After graduating, he hopes to work further toward becoming a published author and professor in the future.

Dhipinder Walia is a full-time lecturer at Lehman College CUNY with a specialization in English Composition and Asian-American literature. Her research/teaching interests include: digital composition, English acquisition post-trauma, quantitative writing, and democratic grading processes. She has received her MFA in fiction from Adelphi University and is currently working towards a Masters in Women/Gender Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Walia has published a piece on diversity in the workplace for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Trevor Weston began his musical education at the prestigious St. Thomas Choir school in NYC at the age of ten. He received his B.A. from Tufts University and continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his M. A. and Ph. D. in Music Composition.  His primary composition teachers were T. J. Anderson, Olly Wilson, Andrew Imbrie and Richard Felciano. Dr. Weston is currently Professor of Music at Drew University in Madison, NJ. Weston’s honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony.

Jessica Yood is an Associate Professor of English at Lehman College and the Graduate Center at CUNY. Her scholarship focuses on writing, rhetoric, and literacy education. She is currently writing a book, The Complexity of Beginners. It describes how first year composition might revitalize higher education. The book takes a stand on the current culture wars in higher education and offers an argument for getting beyond them. But she grounds this argument in her experience spending a year as a student of freshman comp.


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