Tuesday, September 14th, 2021, American Culture faculty, graduate students, and staff joined together for a hello and welcome to new and returning members of the department along with the Passing-of-the-Torch to new Chair, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes.

The event included remarks from Larry as well as new staff, faculty, and graduate student introductions. Since AC could not hold this event last Fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 cohorts were announced. Join us in welcoming and celebrating those folks below.

New Staff:

  • Liz So, Academic Program Specialist in 3725 Haven Hall
    Liz joins us from the Comprehensive Studies Program where she was the Student Services Assistant and spent several weeks in training with Andrew over the summer. 
  • JoAnne Beltran, Student Administrative Assistant in the Front Office
    JoAnne is a new graduate from Eastern Michigan University where she received a B.A. in Communication with a Minor in Interdisciplinary Leadership. JoAnne has worked as an Orientation Group Leader and Student Assistant in Campus Life and has staffed the front desk at EMU's College of Health & Human Services Advising Center. JoAnne's unique student and student employment experiences will be great assets to the department and her role in student services.

New Officers:

  • John Cheney-Lippold, AC Associate Chair 
  • Ashley Lucas, shifted fraction to AC from the Residential College to serve as Director of Latina/o Studies
  • Manan Desai, Director of the program in Asian/Pacific Islander American (A/PIA) studies

New Faculty:

  • Retika Adhikari, Assistant Professor
    Retika joins the Department of American Culture following a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a cultural anthropologist and works at the intersection of anthropology and ethnic studies. Her research explores the limits of contemporary humanitarian interventions and the processes of refugee racialization in the American Rust Belt cities. 
  • Kayla Gonyon, Ojibwe Language LEO LECTURER I
    Kayla joins the faculty with specialized experience in Ojibwe language instruction, having assisted in courses offered in the Department in both elementary and intermediate language instruction. She received her M.A. from EMU in 2019 and we are thrilled to welcome her to the faculty.
  • Lorena ChambersPostdoctoral Research Fellow jointly appointed in American Culture and the Department of History
    Lorena is a scholar of the live performances of Mexican and Mexican American entertainers that emerged in late nineteenth-century popular culture as a by-product of the cultural diplomacy between the United States and Mexico. She is the co-principal investigator of a digital humanities project funded by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and is the recipient of a grant from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West that named her Associate Editor of The Papers of William F. Cody to continue analyzing the role of vaquero and charro performers as cultural diplomats in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

NEW American Culture Fall 2020 Ph.D. Cohort:

  • Michael Brier was a Fulbright Fellow who received his BA in English at Haverford College. Brier studies reform strategies of the US Criminal justice system, with a specific focus on the recent, widespread incorporation of "race-blind" risk assessment algorithms. Michael is also interested in situating these algorithmic tools in the history of anti-discrimination reforms since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the goal of understanding the motivations and the consequences of this new class of "race-blind" algorithmic tools.
  • Mona Hagmagid received her BA in Philosophy and Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Hagmagid studies the historical impact of Muslim-Americans on the fabric of American culture, concentrating on the racial, class, and sectarian differences that made up 20th-century Muslim-American communities.
  • Chloe Perry received her BA in English from UC Berkeley and her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. Perry’s work investigates how men’s rights groups use self-help and self-improvement literature to generate and perform “expertise” in digital subcultures around the Manosphere online. 

NEW American Culture Fall 2021 Ph.D. Cohort:

  • Henry Chen holds a BA in History from Northwestern University. As a 2018-19 Fulbright Fellow, he conducted research in Durban, South Africa that examined the legacy of apartheid-era racial formation on the lives and masculinities of multiracial men. His proposed doctoral research project is a study of multiracial identity formation among Asian Americans in sports, entertainment and politics to consider how such individuals have been positioned and imagined as harbingers of post-racial harmony. 
  • Charlotte Juergens graduated with a BA in History from Yale University and an MA in American History and Museum Studies from the University of Chicago. Juergens studies living history reenactments at museums and US historical sites, specifically analyzing how historical narratives of indigeneity both reproduce racial hierarchies and attempt to counter prejudicial representations.
  • Michelle pruneah Kim goes by pruneah, pronounced proona (long o and short a sound at the end, and the "p" is lowercase) graduated with a BA in Equity Studies and Diaspora Transnational Studies from the University of Toronto and an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University. Kim’s work focuses on immigrant women of color, food studies, and the idea of tastemaking all in the contexts of culinary colonialism and multicultural Toronto.
  • Erin Leary graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in English. Leary connects environmental studies, climate literature, and indigenous studies to critique contemporary linear, exceptional Western/colonial apocalyptic narratives surrounding climate change.
  • Wren Palmer received her BA in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. As a McNair scholar, she conducted research on cultural preservation and authenticity for an Honors thesis titled “The Oceanic Consciousness: From Tourist Attractions to Trending on TikTok.” She plans to extend this research on connectivity between Pacific peoples, engaging with both Native Studies and Digital Studies.


Special thanks to:

  • Lisa Tune - who organized the welcome reception including finding an outdoor venue, food, music(!), and the infinite details that go into planning an event. A lot of extra organizing went into making the event work since there were some Covid related restrictions in place. Thank you, Lisa!
  • JoAnne Beltran - for staffing the registration desk. I'm so glad that many of you got to meet her!