Rutgers GSE CMSI

Let's Talk Humanities

Sponsored by the HSI Pathways to the Professoriate Program, this webinar series features faculty in the humanities from various institutions who will share about their scholarship and discuss their research.


Illustrating Silence, Familia, Invisibility, and the Semiotics of Undocumented Fear

February 6, 2024 at 1:00 PM ET

with Alberto Ledesma, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Arts and Humanities, University of California, Berkeley

This talk presented images from the speaker’s graphic auto-ethnographic novel Diary of A Reluctant Dreamer to talk about the way that undocumented life impacts not just everyday acts, but the very things that are named in the worlds we live in. Using illustrated anecdotes and storytelling, this talk described how tensions that exist among undocumented families can still lead to moments of triumph and achievement and how these moments are tied to transformations in identity though they may not lead to transformations in legal status. Charged with humor and emotion, this webinar generated insights into the lives of Americans who were once undocumented.

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The View from the Future Possible: Science Fiction and Caribbean Histories

March 26, 2024 at 1:00 PM ET

with Emily A. Maguire, Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University

The last two decades have seen a remarkable rise in both the presence and visibility of science fiction in the cultural production of the Hispanophone Caribbean. While some science fiction narratives introduce new worlds or envision radically different future environments, many recent science fiction texts from the Caribbean extrapolate from the particularities of contemporary experience. This talk explores how recent Caribbean narratives use science fiction – specifically, the idea of a future possible – as a tool to destabilize narrative time.

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FALL 2023

Imperative Constructions: Universality and Difference Across Languages 

September 19, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET

with David Medeiros, Associate Professor of Linguistics/TESL, California State University, Northridge

This talk focuses on what, if anything, is universal to the imperative sentence construction across languages. The speaker argued that consensus views on imperatives overly depend on data from a narrow set of languages, thereby missing some cross-linguistic generalizations and also wrongly conflating imperatives with commands. By highlighting languages with different types of imperative person inflection, this talk presented the idea that the syntax of imperatives is more diverse than widely believed.

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Erotic Archival Entanglements: Memory Projects of the “Obscene” in Greater Mexico

March 15, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET

with Zeb Tortorici, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese, New York University

This talk theorized the notion of erotic archival entanglements in Greater Mexico by tracing connections between categories of the “obscene” and the “pornographic” across time, from the 18th century to the present. Focusing first on the now-absent confiscated artifacts from the archives of the late colonial Mexican Inquisition—explicit drawings, prints, statues, and clocks—the talk examined how such objects entered and exited multiple hands, collections, and (temporary) resting places. Additionally, the talk explored how such movements resonate with how vintage historical erotica today travels among flea markets, bookshops, private collections, museums, and historical archives with a focus on a Mexico City-based grassroots archival initiative.

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Emerging Forms of Progressive Christianity Amid U.S. Polarizing Realities

April 19, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET

with Xochitl Alvizo, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, California State University, Northridge

This talk presented a segment of progressive Christian communities that intentionally seek to disrupt and counter the harmful elements of heterosexism, racism, and dogmatism embedded in its inherited theologies, systems, and structures. This emerging Christianity occurs as a result of experiences of harm and trauma, particularly at the hands of white evangelicalism and systemic sexual abuse within an array of Christian denominations. Social movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo have challenged Christianity in the U.S. toward greater left-leaning activism that center the voices of people of color, women, queer, and trans persons. The talk captured the emerging elements of progressive Christianity actively taking shape amidst these social movements and the current issues polarizing the political and religious landscape of the United States. It also provided recommendations for religious communities seeking to implement a more active social and politically engaged Christianity that counters the harmful impact of its more radically conservative expressions.

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All talks are free to the general public and will be held virtually on Zoom.

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For more information, please contact Gisselle Criollo at

FALL 2022

Self-Fashioning, Resistance, & Resilience: Lessons From Our Literary and Activist Foremothers

September 28, 2022 at 1PM ET

with Donna Aza Weir-Soley, President of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars & Associate Professor of English at Florida International University

This talk was a retrospective on the lives and work of Sojourner Truth, Audre Lorde and Jamaican Creole Poet, Louise Bennett-Coverley, three Black women whose creative and scholarly activism have shaped the speaker’s identity as a poet-scholar with a commitment to equity, justice, autonomy and creative exploration of the “self under construction.“

All three women resisted attempts of the dominant culture to define and limit their selfhood and found ways to extend their influence beyond the limitations of race, gender, color, sexuality, culture, class and religion. This talk highlighted some of the ways in which their example and influence have helped to shape the speaker’s thinking, their work (as professor, scholar and mentor), and their complex identity as an educator, mother, poet and self-determined woman from working class Jamaican roots.

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The Spanish Legacy: From Creole Patriotism to Chicano Power

November 15, 2022 at 1PM ET

with Ignacio Martínez, Associate Professor of History and Ph.D Program Director at the University of Texas El Paso

This webinar provided an overview of Spain and The Hispanic World. The central aim of this project is to analyze and interpret the modern legacy of Spain throughout Hispanic-America by identifying major ideological and historical turning points over the past five-hundred years. For some, the relationship between Spain and Hispanic-America was seen as positive and emotionally enriching, for others Spain was deemed the main source of cultural and economic backwardness. This talk discussed some of the difficulties involved in producing this type of nuanced research and offered suggestions on ways to conduct historical scholarship that is direct and honest and yet mindful of historical trauma. 

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All talks are free to the general public and will be held virtually on Zoom.

Download the full Fall 2022 Flyer!

For more information, please contact Gisselle Criollo at


Queer Lens in Focus: A Photovoice Project in Athens, Greece

March 2, 2022 - 1:00 PM ET

with Moshoula Capous-Desyllas, Professor of Sociology, California State University Northridge

This webinar is based on an ethnographic, arts-based research project conducted in Athens, Greece, where professor Moshoula Capous-Desyllas, collaborated with a grassroots collective known for its advocacy for and with LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers. Through this community-based partnership, researchers implemented photovoice methodology with 14 displaced and undocumented people from Syria, Iraq, Cameroon, Cuba, and Uganda to highlight their visual voices through the exploration of identity and belonging, the physical and mental health challenges of displacement, the multi-layered notions of home, and their hopes, dreams and visions for a future without borders. Moshoula Capous-Desyllas discussed the methodological process, challenges and successes of engaging in arts-based research with marginalized communities, as well as the impact and power of co-curating national and international photography exhibits as a way to share the participants’ art and knowledge with audiences beyond academia.

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Feeding and Building Communities of Care on the U.S.-Mexico Border 

February 2, 2022 - 1:00 PM ET

with Guillermina G. Núñez-Mchiri, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women and Gender Studies, University of Texas at El Paso 

Providing meals to care for others and to build relationships is a simple act of humanity that helps build community, particularly during times of crises. What motivates people to give of their time, presence, and their food to care for others?  This is the question driving the oral history interviews of the Border Foodways oral history project, an initiative funded by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists via the Ford Foundation. This work presents various examples of how food becomes a medium for expressing care, compassion, and resistance on the U.S.-Mexico border.  By exploring the politics of care through a Chicana feminist praxis lens, this webinar will note the ways in which people on the U.S.-Mexico border offer what they have to care for each other. Food builds social solidarity by unifying people across diverse backgrounds and building stronger webs of social support and cohesion through the politics of care. 

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All talks are free to the general public and will be held virtually on Zoom.

Download the full Spring 2022 flyer.

FALL 2021

The Value of Life

November 10, 2021 - 1:00 PM ET

with Michael Ralph, Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies, Howard University and Professor in the School of Medicine, New York University

This webinar will present research concerned with historic techniques for inscribing and regimenting the monetary value of human life, in part based on shifting notions of gender, ability, race, and expertise. Michael Ralph will examine the United States insurance industry, how it affixes monetary value to human life, and how life insurance is derived from the legal rationale and commercial logic of marine insurance and, later, slave insurance.

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Colonizers and Colonized: A Latino History of the United States

October 13, 2021 - 1:00 PM ET

with Geraldo L. Cadava, Professor of History and Latino/a Studies, Northwestern University

Does it make sense to consider the Spanish colonial period as a part of Latino history? What are the historical experiences that have brought Latinos together over time, and those that have made us different from one another? Beyond our shared and divergent historical experiences, what are the politics of thinking of Latino group identity, versus Latinos as diverse individuals whose uniqueness makes them impossible to classify? This webinar will present an insightful overview of Geraldo Cadava’s upcoming book, Colonizers and the Colonized: A Latino History of the United States, that explores 500 years of Latino history, from the colonial period to the present.


Universality and Difference Across Imperative Constructions in Languages