Bios and Abstracts

Omnya Attaelmanan

Maastricht University

“The Tea Ladies: Exploring the Lived Experience of Female Migrant Tea-Sellers in Sudan”


This research paper examines the day-to-day lived experiences of female migrant tea-sellers in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum, focusing in particular on the survival strategies used in order to acculturate to and cope with their surroundings, and on issues of identity, vulnerability, and agency. This first field study to focus on the lives of Sudanese tea-sellers is based on a series of in-depth personal interviews with over 30 respondents.


Omnya is Sudanese by birth, Swedish by nationality, Middle Eastern by acculturation, and currently lives in the Netherlands, where she is earning an MA in Globalization and Development Studies in the (probably vain) hopes of one day escaping student penury. She reads, she procrastinates, she botches recipes, and every once in a while she writes about herself in the third person.

Elizabeth Bell

Reed College

“Who Was Mary Barnard?”

 Poems by Mary Barnard

The poet Mary Barnard (1909-2001) is best known for her concise, modernist translation of the Sappho fragments in her book Sappho: A New Translation (UCP 1958).  Her own poetry, widely published during the 1930s, has been largely overlooked in contemporary critical scholarship.  By providing a biographical context for her varied interests and writings, especially her own poetry, I hope to show she deserves a place in the canon of late imagism and mid-twentieth century American modernism.


Elizabeth hold a B.A. from Allegheny College in 1961, an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College in 1962, and a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Reed College in 1987.   She is a piano teacher and performer of four-hand piano music and chamber music.  She serves as president of Vancouver, Washington Young Audiences, is a Portland Piano International Board member, and the literary executor of the Mary Barnard Estate.

Jenna Berthiaume

Reed College

“Imperial Visions: Photography and the Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee in South Africa”


In 1903, the British Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee (COVIC) began producing a series of printed lectures with photographic slides, documenting the extent of the ever-expanding British Empire. I examine the photographic images and text of the lecture series describing South Africa, arguing that the series constituted imperial propaganda in which the COVIC attempted to perpetuate fictive visions of the South African landscape and people in order to substantiate Britain’s controversial foreign policy in that  region.


Jenna is a student in the MALS program at Reed College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with an emphasis on Mesoamerican archaeology, from Brown University in 2008. Her research interests include visual literacy in education & public humanities, digital media, photography, and visual design. Jenna is writing her degree paper on hypertext and digital archives this fall.

Rebecca Boss-Masi

Mount St. Mary’s College

“The Bikini and the Burqa: The Psychology and the Politics of Covering”


We live in a culture that celebrates a woman’s ability to bare it all. However, is the ability to show skin really freedom, or just another form of oppression? How many women are truly comfortable in their own skin? The West tends to look down on cultures that expect women to fully cover themselves; but which represents true freedom, the bikini or the burqa?


Rebecca is a student at Mount St. Mary’s College studying Humanities with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She works for a local Charter Management Organization, helping to bring quality education to students in inner-city LA. She is passionate about travel, writing, and spending time with her two amazing puppies.

Eric Brown

Stanford University

“Bloody Struggle: Fighting the Congo’s Resource Curse in 1900 and Today”


In 1898, a young shipping clerk named E. D. Morel discovered that Belgium was using slaves to plunder the Congo’s resources, and he launched a campaign to expose Belgium’s crime. In 2009, Lynn Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize for her play Ruined, which explored the horrors of sexual violence in the Congo. This paper explores how Morel, Nottage, and others have used popular media to highlight abuses in the Congo, and how they have inspired change in this country.


Eric is Communications Director for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California. Previously, he served as served press secretary and speechwriter for Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez of New York. He is also a contributing author of Take Back Your Time (2003, Berrett-Koehler).

Lauren Buisson

Mount St. Mary’s College

“Distaff Distortion: The Confines of Convention in Film Portrayals of Ophelia”


Film adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet evolve over time; the characterization of Hamlet is particularly influenced by contemporary moods. The same cannot be said of Ophelia. Her characterization is stubbornly resistant to reinterpretation – a phenomenon that remains an inviolable element of the Shakespearean film genre.  I investigate the cultural traditions and cinematic techniques that reinforce this powerfully enduring, yet ultimately stifling, representation of young womanhood.


Lauren is a second year graduate student in Humanities pursuing an emphasis in English at MSMC. A member of MLA and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Lauren’s research interests are American popular culture, film, and the impact of the city on contemporary world fiction. She currently is researching depictions of trauma in the graphic novel.

Jennifer Chutter

Simon Fraser University

“Are Kitchens Still the Hearth of the Home?”


The kitchen is the one room, in the home, that has changed the most in the evolution of house design in the 20th Century. It has moved from a small room closed off from the rest of the house to becoming a central feature of the home. Looking at the influences of modernism, capitalism, feminism and design, I look at the why the kitchen has changed and whether these changes still reflect the ideas of home, family and hearth today.


Jennifer spends her time inventing recipes and trying them out on friends; her boys, who only want plain noodles, are starting to trust her culinary skills. While she dreams of new appliances and taps that don’t spray water everywhere, she is reminded daily of beauty as the sun shines in her windows as she sips her morning coffee.

Lee Crystal

University of Southern California

“Have We Learned? Crimes Against Humanity and Lessons of the Nuremberg Trials”


The Nuremberg Trials, held between 1945 and 1946, convened to judge the crimes of the Nazi regime.  The trials conveyed to the world the message that crimes against humanity would never again be tolerated by civilization and established a precedent that individuals could be held accountable for their actions.  Whether the impact of Nuremberg and the precedent established have been successful in preventing crimes against humanity is part of this presentation, which concludes that additional resources are still needed to behave better.


Lee has a B.A. from California State University, Northridge, a J.D. from Southwestern Law School, and an MLS degree from the University of Southern California.  He has been a practicing attorney for 37 years and is a Senior Attorney for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the Los Angeles Office of Chief Counsel.

Jason C. Davis

Dominican University

“Quintessence of Dust: Cognitive Neuroscience and the Actor’s Process”


Cognitive neuroscience continues to reveal new ontological insights derived from the study of our brains, which I consider essential knowledge for an actor’s process. I examine the subjectivity of our consciousness and the intentionality of that subjective consciousness related to an actor’s objectives. I also discuss an extenuated state of consciousness that gives the illusion of character control and the attenuation of self. Finally, I assess the intersubjective connection between spectators and actors, specifically addressing mirror neuronal activity.


Jason obtained an interdisciplinary degree in literature, German language and theater from Humboldt State University in 2001. He will receive his M.A. in humanities with emphases in philosophy and literature from Dominican University in the fall of 2012. He is currently applying to various graduate schools to begin work on his doctorate in cognitive neuroscience and performance study. Outside of academia, he is a father of three beautiful children, enjoys reading, playing chess, gardening, and especially traveling.

Laura Drott and Lukas Jochum

Maastricht University

 “Accountability and Risk Governance: A Scenario-informed Reflection on European Regulation of GMOs"

GMO regulation in the EU constitutes a salient issue of risk governance. Decision-making is slow and contested. As authority is dispersed among multiple actors, European risk governance is in need of adequate accountability mechanisms. We therefore explore the question of who can be held accountable under the complex system of supranational risk governance. We argue that mere adherence by actors to the regulatory procedures does not necessarily imply that overall accountability necessarily exists, resulting in “organized irresponsibility.”

Laura is an Analyst Intern at Sustainalytics.  She received her Master of Arts in Globalization and Development Studies at Maastricht University, Netherlands in 2012 and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Culture (Cum Laude) at Maastricht University, Netherlands in 2011.

Lukas graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies from Maastricht University in 2011. He is currently studying toward a Master of Arts in Globalisation and Development Studies in Maastricht.


Paul Falger

Maastricht University

“A Philosopher Against the Grain: The Actuality of Georg Lukács"


Why would one write about Marxist philosophy in the 21st century? Georg Lukács (1885-1971) published History and Class Consciousness (H&CC) in 1923, a 20th century philosophy classic, but renounced his Hegelian discourse on ‘reification’ in 1924. This thesis addresses whether H&CC and its accidentally discovered defense from 1925-1926 (published 1996), are still relevant for contemporary thinking about ‘the human condition’ in neo-liberal society, going through its most fundamental crisis since the demise of communism.


Paul is a student of Arts & Social Sciences after a career as Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology/Health Care Psychologist, Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, the Netherlands (focus on biopsychosocial factors, vital exhaustion and depression in coronary heart disease; rehabilitation, stress management and behavior change in cardiac patients; rehabilitation and stress management in breast cancer patients), from 1976 through 2009.

Oscar Firschein

Stanford University

“ELIZA’s Offspring: The Lure of Intelligent Machines”


This paper describes artificial intelligence advances that have resulted in impressive accomplishments, such as Apple’s talking telephone.  Intelligent toys have been produced for children and as comfort animals for the elderly.  Users now treat such sentient-like objects as if they were alive.  Perhaps if the public were educated as to the device’s “tricks,” they would cease regarding these as intelligent.  But are people really fooled by these devices, or do they really prefer interacting with a computer ?


Oscar performed artificial intelligence research for many years, specializing in computer image understanding.  After retirement, he received his MLA from Stanford in 2000. His “techie” persona has warred with his liberal arts persona, particularly when he wrote papers for his MLA courses. Recently he has spent considerable time taking online courses to better appreciate the new teaching techniques.

Nancy Hiett Gibson

Marylhurst University

“‘Junk for Jesus’ –  The Commodified Gift: Donation in a Global Economy”

 Prezi presentation


Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promote the donation of used medical equipment and excess medical supplies as delivering needed goods to provide healthcare to the developing world.  The reality is that much of what is received is broken, obsolete or inappropriate.  These “donations” have financial and environmental costs associated with them that are paid for by the recipient organizations and the citizens of the receiving countries.  Using a theoretical framework of neoliberalism, I deconstruct the notion that donated used medical equipment maintains its life-saving status at the end of its lifecycle, and propose a policy that will allow recipient countries and organizations to make a cost-benefit assessment that includes the end-of-life environmental disposal costs of donated medical equipment.


Nancy is in her final year in the M.A. of Interdisciplinary Studies at Marylhurst University and will graduate end of August 2012. She travels extensively in Guatemala. Her main academic interests are: Social/Cultural and Medical Anthropology, Disease and Development Issues in Developing Countries, and Social Constructs of Gifting.

Joe Jatcko

Reed College

“Subversive Subtexts in Wartime Cinema”


When does subtext become the text? If film is by nature a fictional representation of reality, can subtextual meanings be considered any less real? This presentation examines the sometimes-confounding hidden narratives of two wartime films, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Silence of the Sea (1949) and Aleksandr Askoldov’s The Commissar (1967). Not only do these subtextual narratives become more central to each film’s meaning than the original narrative, they undermine prevalent political power structures of each era.


Joe is entering his final year in Reed College’s MALS program, with a particular interest in film studies. He is happy to be in California.

Lindsey Jones

University of Southern California

“An Urban Walk Past the Intersection of Thoreau and De Certeau”


I explore the commonalities between Thoreau’s “Walking” and de Certeau’s “Walking in the City,” first examining Thoreau’s adulation for nature and his notions on civilization, then fast forwarding to the twentieth century and de Certeau’s ideas on finding meaning in a built world. I conclude in present-day Los Angeles with inspiration from both, proposing nature in the city reflects our ‘wild’ human side.


Lindsey earned a B.S. in Biology from Colorado State University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies at the University of Southern California where she also works as the manager of a cancer research laboratory. Additionally, she instructs yoga part time. When she’s not working, teaching, or studying, she enjoys riding her bicycle and marathon training.

Eileen Kohan

University of Southern California

“What Could I Do With a GLS Degree?”


In the Closing Plenary Session, Eileen will discuss how to convey the value of a liberal arts degree to employers.


Eileen is the USC Associate Provost and Executive Director of Continuing Education and Summer Programs and a lecturer in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Eileen previously served as Senior Associate Dean in Student Affairs and Executive Director of the USC Career Planning and Placement Center. She is the former Executive Director of the Career Center at Columbia University in the City of New York. She has conducted research with student athletes to determine how they choose careers and studied the influence of faculty on student career choice. She is often quoted in the media in the areas of work and career transition. Eileen graduated from the College of Mt. St. Vincent and Seton Hall University.

Andrew Dennis Lachman

Stanford University

“In the Shelter of Their Wings: The Correspondence of Charles Dickens and Miss Angela Burdett Coutts”


For 35 years a close friendship unfolded between Charles Dickens and Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts, heiress to her maternal grandfather, Thomas Coutts’ banking fortune. Their relationship evolved socially and through a correspondence that spanned from 1841 to 1865. The more than 500 hundred letters Dickens wrote to this modest and legendary philanthropist are a testimonial to their enduring and industrious friendship and more importantly reveal much about the noted writer’s career, passions, private and public pursuits, and personal frustrations.


Andrew is a correspondent for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He was a stringer for Newsweek and a high school and community college teacher as well as a television field producer and a real estate market analyst. He earned masters from Stanford, Columbia, and Yale Universities and Antioch College and is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz.

Sandra Lockwood

Simon Fraser University

“The Third Man Phenomenon”


“The Third Man” refers the benevolent, spectral presence that encourages survival in a human being caught in a life-threatening situation. A “divine helper” is the backbone of many compelling survival legends. As it cannot be qualified through empirical study, a Third Man experience has often been relegated to myth, dismissed as science fiction or as a hallucinatory experience resulting from physical trauma. I explore the history, the environmental factors that preclude an episode, and recent scientific inquires into human consciousness.


Sandra holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto, a BFA from Emily Carr University (Vancouver), and a post-graduate diploma from Sheridan Institute of Technology (Ontario). She also attended Nara Women’s University in Japan as a research student in classical Japanese literature. She is currently enrolled in the Graduate Liberal Studies program at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver).

Steve Loughran

Mount St. Mary’s College

“Social Science and Character Creation in Victorian Fiction”


The Victorian period witnessed the behavioral and social sciences such as psychology and criminology beginning to gain the same kind of respect already granted the hard sciences such as chemistry, physics and biology. Just as today's writers of crime fiction glean knowledge from areas such as forensics and psychology to inform their writing and character creation, authors Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Robert Lois Stevenson often looked to the sciences of their period to do the same.


Steve was working as a carpenter, and in his mid-thirties (back in ‘90s) decided that college might have something to offer after all. He began night classes at Santa Monica College, transferred to Mount St. Mary’s and eventually received a B.A. in 2005. He currently is pursuing a M.A., also from Mount St. Mary’s.

Natasha Lowell

Dominican University of California

“Eugène Ysaÿe and Musical Dialogue”


This presentation discusses the Prelude from Sonata No. 2, Op. 27 “Obsession” by the Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931), followed by a performance of the movement.  The presentation will focus on the sonata’s relationship with the Preludio from Partita No. 3 BWV 1006 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750), the technique of musical borrowing, music’s capacity for dialogue, as well as a brief biography of Ysaÿe and discussion of  performing the piece.


Natasha began her study of the violin at age nine in the Mill Valley school music programs, taking private lessons and continuing to play in school and local ensembles.  She studied at Dominican University of California, earning a B.A. in Music in 2009 with honors and a Masters in Humanities in May 2012.  

Barbara Mackraz

Stanford University

“The Silent Theatre of the Bayeux Tapestry”


The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the Norman Invasion in 1066. It communicates its story entirely through images of men, horses, and stage sets, in one long linear flow of 230 feet. If we look closely, we see that the characters use lively body language to take us on a guided tour. In this talk, we discuss how this work created 900 years ago uses conventions from ancient and medieval theatre—which remain powerful and familiar to us today.


Barb has been an interaction and user interface designer in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, currently working in mobile and multimedia. She was formerly a student of European history and a staff editor for Princeton University Press. Barb enjoys exploring the intersections of visual arts, narrative, and interpretation, and the everyday juxtapositions of old and new.

Young Miller

University of Southern California

“The Cultural and Linguistic Importance of Hangul


Created by a single individual, the Korean alphabet Hangul is an example of how a language can help a nation pave its path to cultural and political independence.  I trace Hangul’s staying power in the shadow of Chinese linguistic dominance for a thousand years and through early-20th century attempts to eradicate it during 36 years of Japanese colonialism.  More than an alphabet, Hangul was an important tool in the patriotic movement leading up to Korea’s independence in 1945, and today serves as a unifying touchpoint for Korean speakers around the world. 


Young received a Master of Liberal Studies degree in December 2011 from the University of Southern California.  Born and raised in South Korea, Young received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Kyungnam University.  She is currently working as a senior administrator in the Economics Department at USC.

Laura Moore

Stanford University

“Visions of the Dead in World War I Poetry”


English poetry from the Western Front portrays ghost soldiers who surround the living, speak to the living, and inhabit a hellish afterlife that resembles the front. Several factors, including advances in weaponry and the conditions of trench warfare, account for these ghostly visions; because these factors unified soldiers with fellow-sufferers, both living and dead, the separation between them blurred in poetic imaginings. These portrayals of ghosts illuminate the difficulty of processing the war within existing cultural and religious traditions.


Laura is a Bay Area native. For many years she taught English at a private a high school, but now she enjoys quieter employment at a life insurance company. She is a third year MLA student at Stanford and will be writing her thesis on English poetry from the Western Front.

Pat Nicholson

Stanford University

“Call and Response: Civil Rights and Jazz”


From the advent of slavery, onward, music has been central to the formation of African American identity and the struggle for freedom. This was certainly true in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Civil Rights Movement gained form and momentum. During this time, jazz music went through a period of profound aesthetic innovation and vitality that was in dialog with the political events. This essay traces this dialog between the arts and politics of the era.


Beyond his studies in the Stanford MLA program, Pat is a husband and father of two girls (ages 10 and 7), and has worked in marketing for Apple, Inc for many years.

Faisal Nsour

Stanford University

“Perspectivism in Faulkner's Light in August


In his novel Light in August, Faulkner relies on narrative perspectivism, both to tell the story and to comment generally upon human knowing. Perspectivism is first defined and discussed as a narrative technique, and illustrated by examples from the novel. The technique’s wider implications are then explored by consideration of the protagonist, Joe Christmas, a man driven by his uncertainty regarding his identity to debar himself from society.


Born in Jackson, Mississippi (a short drive south of Jefferson), Faisal spent part of his childhood in Amman, Jordan. He is an information system designer by profession, and a failed poet by aspiration. Thanks to Stanford’s MLA program, where he is beginning the thesis phase, he now is a deft changer of perspective.

Jennifer M. Ortiz

Marylhurst University

“Strange Fruit: How the Labor Movement, Communism and a Photograph Wove a Song”


The American Communist Party, the anti-lynching movement, a Jewish schoolteacher, and Billie Holiday are an unlikely compendium of people and events; but in 1939, their paths intersected, creating a legacy that would continue to express itself years later.  This convergence resulted in a "common consciousness" that made it possible for this varied cross-section of American culture to traverse.


Jennifer will be completing the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program at Marylhurst University this summer. With an undergraduate degree in journalism, Jennifer has worked as a writer for the past several years for the non-profit sector. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, with their three sons.

Sara Piali

Maastricht University

“The Culture Wars of Peter Stuyvesant: Tolerating the Sin of Satan in Dutch New York”


This paper steps beyond a political interpretation of the Peter Stuyvesant’s authoritarianism, to suggest that the governor of New Netherlands saw the transgression of pride in certain colonists’ attempts to exercise political and religious freedom.  I rely on the new work of historians, translated minutes and correspondence, and biographical accounts to demonstrate that this moral interpretation was the source of his outrage.  


Sara has a M.A. in Government and Politics from St. John’s University. Before studying at Maastricht University, she worked in the Provost’s Office of St. John’s University in New York. Her goal as a student of culture is to bridge the gap in 21st century discourse between journalism and academia on contemporary socio-political issues.

Jean Richardson

Marylhurst University

“In Your Own Hands: Personal Integrity and the Individual’s Experience of Work Life”


Deep systems thinking and philosophic principles underlie the agile project management framework which has been test over the last 10 years in industry.  This framework know as Scrum has contributed to the recovery of character in the workplace while simultaneously improving organizational execution and improving the lot of the individual.  Using the emergence of white collar crime over the last two decades as a backdrop for discussion, I focus on knowledge leaders and workers in complex organizations and how application of this framework results in a more authentic personal freedom than many workers can lay claim to in today’s workplaces. 


Jean is an experienced trainer, mediator, project manager, and Scrum and leadership coach.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (emphasis in Organizational Communication) from Marylhurst University as well as multiple certifications in project management and conflict resolution. 

Bequia Sherick

Dominican University of California

“Freedom through the Cultivation of Humanness: Philosophy, Psychology and the Authentic Self”


Authenticity as put forth by the existentialists is essential for a complete view of human nature within psychology. Behaviorists and Humanistic psychologists disagree about the nature of the self and the degree of human freedom. Behaviorists see the self as heavily determined and as a collection of reactions to the environment. In contrast, Existential and Humanistic psychologists see the self as partially free and claim that individuals must be studied phenomenologically with reference to personal authenticity.


Bequia grew up outside of Longmont, Colorado.  She attended University of Colorado at Boulder and got a B.A. in Philosophy.  She lived and worked at a yoga retreat center for two years and then got an M.A. in Humanities with an emphasis in Philosophy at Dominican University.

Kelley Skumautz

Mount St. Mary’s College

“How Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal Intercepts with William Faulkner’s Light in August


Fifteen years separate the publication of William Faulkner’s Light in August (LIA) in 1932 and Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal (KR) in 1947, and at the time of the composition of each, neither Faulkner nor Lewis could reconcile the fact that the prosperity of our country was reliant upon the backs of slave labor and the eradication of indigenous people.  I compare KR to LIA, focusing on the novels' intersection in transracial themes, outsiders looking in, Jesus Christ and other Biblical analogies, and similarities in plot and outcome.  


Kelley received her M.A. in Humanities at MSMC in 2011. A Minnesotan by birth, she has lived and worked in CA since 1997. Currently, she is the Development Director for an environmental law firm in Santa Barbara. Kelley received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1992. 

Olivia Spence

Dominican University of California

“Illuminating Contradiction: Intentional Ambiguity in Nietzsche’s Death of God


In this analysis of Nietzsche's famous statement "God is dead," I suggest that his intention in this declaration was primarily inspirational rather than simply declarative, and that for the most part, we have missed the potentially self-transformative process that Nietzsche's philosophy of radical self-responsibility offers.

Kati Stenstrom

Reed College

Ostraniene: Death Defamiliarized in Tolstoy”


In “Art as Device,” Russian formalist Viktor Shklovsky coins an artistic effect which Leo Tolstoy frequently infuses into his writing: ostraniene. Throughout his works, Tolstoy utilizes this literary device of defamiliarization to reawaken a reader’s consciousness, to de-automatize the reader’s perception from the habitualization of everyday life. The theme of death proves rich with different examples of ostraniene, including piquing senses, devaluing ritual around death, and presenting death through naive eyes and those of the dying.


Kati entered the MALS program at Reed College in summer of 2009. After earning a B.A. in History from Gonzaga University in 2000, Kati has worked for non-profit organizations in Portland, coordinating literacy and community school programs in several low-income elementary schools. She loves to play tennis, piano, travel, garden, and walk her French bulldog, Gus.

Keri Sussman-Shurtliff

Dominican University of California

“What Could I Do With a GLS Degree?”


In the Closing Plenary Session, Keri will discuss how she is using her liberal arts background in her career.


Keri received her B.A. in Art History from Dominican University of California. She continued her studies at Dominican receiving her M.A. in the Humanities with an emphasis in Art History.  For the past nine years, Keri has been teaching Art History courses at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in the General Studies & Interior Design Departments.

In addition to her teaching duties, she has served as Lead Instructor (2006-2012) where her duties included mentoring, curriculum assessment and review.  After 8 consecutive years of being nominated, Keri was voted by the class of 2012 as Outstanding Faculty Member for the General Studies Department. Keri has served as an Academic Reviewer for the 8th edition of Janson’s Basic History of Art and the forthcoming 9th edition and is a member of the College Art Association (CAA).

Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi

Maastricht University

“The Tensions of Congolese Photographic Productions and Their International Visibility”


If one observes some of contemporary Congolese artists’ visual artworks (mainly photographs and paintings), one can notice a sort of constancy in the represented subject matters. This state of “representative inertia” finds its premise in the cultural logic of post-colonialism. Since art functions in a context of reception, the issue at hand relates to the global aspects of the contemporary art world. Experiencing an “existential discomfort,” the Central African artist must find ways to overcome his postcolonial creative condition.


Born in the 1980s in Rwanda, Jean-Sylvain moved to Belgium at an early age. After the completion of a high school and a bachelor degree in arts, literature and culture, he grew aware of his  interest for transcontinental/global cultural dynamics. His academic journey has been full of creative experiences and insights to which he wants now to contribute. 

Chris Wittenberg

Dominican University of California

“What Could I Do With a GLS Degree?”


In the Closing Plenary Session, Chris will discuss how his liberal arts degree has enhanced his career options.


Chris Wittenberg was promoted to Associate Director of I.T. Operations in May 2012. He is responsible for staffing, budget, and policy in support of the Help Desk, server management, and telephone system supporting the Law School. Chris joined Loyola Law School in 2009, and has been instrumental in changing services policies for the technology department. He works closely with department head’s on campus to develop strategic plans for technology initiatives in support of education. Chris servers on executive committees overseeing graduation, and co-chairs the Technology Innovation and Policy Committee, a group that coordinates technology initiatives across departments.  Prior to working at Loyola Law School, he worked for other educational institutions like the University of Southern California, and the Art Center College of Design.  Chris graduated from USC’s Master of Liberal Studies program in 2009.  He presented his thesis evaluating the “Effects of De-Spatialization on Traditional Modes of Conversation” at the 2009 GLS Symposium at Stanford.


Matthew Zussman

Reed College

“Dowie’s Divine Healing and the Professionalization of Modern Medicine”


At the turn of the twentieth century, John Alexander Dowie clashed with the professionalizing medical establishment; the “Divine Healer” contended that medical licensing laws should not apply to him because he was not a “doctor” and his “healing homes” had nothing to do with “hospitals.” The idea of healing and its associated definitions are complex and contested; moreover, this battle of ideas has concrete effects on power: control of the conception of healing determines whom society allows to heal.


Matt focuses on post-Civil War U.S. intellectual and cultural history; his adjoining interdisciplinary interests include literature, film, and religious studies. Recent MALS courses have led to projects on Flannery O’Connor, David Lynch, Gulliver’s Travels, and Orson Welles’ adaptation of The Trial. In his other life, he works in construction, carpentry, and house painting.

  • USC Master of Liberal Studies Program
  • Taper Hall 355
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0355