Diversity at Reed
Kara Becker, Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Diversity in my own work requires first and foremost that I ask whose voices get heard. As a sociolinguist who studies regional and social varieties of American English, I have seen how choices regarding who to sample—who to listen to—can leave other voices silent. Today’s dialectologists seek to include a range of voices those from cities, young people, women, speakers of non-white backgrounds, and others. My own research on the dialect of New York City describes the speech of dominant ethnic groups on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where myriad diverse voices combine to present a portrait of a unique and diverse U.S. neighborhood.
Kate Bredeson, Assistant Professor of Theatre
In my courses, we work to question and expand the traditional narrative of theatre history to include a wide variety of voices from different countries, classes, and perspectives. In Theatre History, we investigate performance in classical India, Chinese court theatre, and contemporary African American playwrights. In Gender and Theatre, we study a female Japanese performance troupe, an Argentine exile writing about torture, drag kings in Portland, and cross-dressing members of the Canadian military. Throughout these courses, we work to expand our definitions of narrative and performance, and to learn from the greatest possible number of theatre-makers throughout history.
My work as a music historian considers how performers and composers strategically engage, not passively occupy, categories habitually associated with diversity. Whether working on Johannes Brahms or Sam Cooke, I find myself asking: How do musicians balance aesthetic ideals, individual expression, cultural representation, and upward mobility? In what contexts are certain types of identities more or less relevant and why? How are identities deployed pragmatically, playfully, politically, or even profitably? How do acts of musical performance suggest ways of being that are less often acknowledged?
Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez, Professor of Psychology
I have been doing research on the effects of bilingualism and second language acquisition on language processing in particular and on cognitive functions in general. In my courses I emphasize the need for and advantages of learning as many languages as possible and I always welcome students with varying linguistic backgrounds, as their experience (and linguistic examples) contribute enormously to my classes.
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Associate Professor of Religion & Humanities
Diversity is central to every aspect of my teaching and scholarship. Hearing varying voices in one’s research or representing multiple perspectives and experiences in one’s teaching demand a high level of self-reflexivity from scholars and students alike. The recognition of difference often requires reworking old theories or developing new methodologies, which in turn open up new vistas on well-trodden terrain. What could be more intellectually exciting!
Charlene Makley, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Cultural anthropology is based in the premise that no thought, creative impulse, or intellectual pursuit is produced outside of particular social and cultural contexts and histories. The way I see it then, "diversity" is not a colorful backdrop for a more important life of the mind, but the vibrant ground of human existence that all critical thinkers must embrace. In my research on Tibetan Buddhist revival and state-led development efforts in China's Tibetan frontier zone, I draw on anthropological theories of culture, ethnicity, gender, and political economy to understand the diverse ways in which China's multiethnic citizens have been negotiating state-led capitalist reforms since the 1980s.
Margot Minardi, Assistant Professor of History & Humanities
The book that piqued my fascination with early American history was American Slavery, American Freedom, by Edmund Morgan. Morgan wondered how the ideology of American liberty could have developed in a place where the institution of slavery was thriving. His answer was that the articulation of American freedom actually depended upon the existence of slavery. What Morgan showed—and what I try to show in my own research and teaching—is that the diversity isn’t incidental to the big questions that matter to us in American politics. We can’t understand what it means to be an American citizen or to value ideals like equality and freedom without contending with the diverse and often fractious roots of American society. I was assigned Morgan’s book my sophomore year of college; I haven’t stopped thinking about the questions he raises since.
I am committed to using dance as an educational tool to help students discover their beliefs and identities. The main direction of my work pertains to individuality and one’s relevance to the community that makes up the culture we all share. Dance involves communication and exchange. I believe dance is an incomparable opportunity for both students and teachers to combine intellectual challenges and artistic expression whether in the studio, on the stage, or in the field. Dance education promotes an investigation of the role that individual creativity can play in a world of mass production and consumer culture. As a consequence, dance has the potential to affirm differences as well as establish common ground.
Kjersten Bunker Whittington, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Sociological study is uniquely positioned to focus on societal mechanisms that (re)produce social inequality and work to maintain status hierarchies. My pedagogical and research interests are rooted in the broad areas of gender and work, scientific careers and organizations, and the high-technology knowledge economy. My current research investigates whether and how the durable gender inequality in science careers is affected by the recent changing boundaries between universities and firms, and the increasing trend to commercialize basic research in academia.
Crystal Williams, Associate Professor of Creative Writing
American poets are an exciting and informative bunch: They represent a multiplicity of aesthetics, cultures, ethnicities, political ideologies, religious backgrounds, and social identities, and they bring all of that to bear in their creative work. In my classes, then, we spend a good deal of time talking and thinking about creativity as one of the primary means by which American cultural and social pluralism is expressed. And we then spend time applying the lessons learned from these exciting, diverse, and divergent voices to each student's own creative endeavors. In this way, we broaden ourselves as readers, as writers—and as importantly, as thinkers.