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Vol.1, Issue 4, April 2021
Welcome to HRC Monthly!

A short preview of the April newsletter. Please scroll down for an entire list.
  • Mark Your Calendars: HRC Spring 2021 Events
  • Faculty SpotlightDr. Chris Cynn, Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies
  • News of Achievements
  • Visit our multimedia page to watch recordings of past HRC events
  • Community Learning Opportunities: Humanities Events Around Richmond
Upcoming Events at the HRC
Meet VCU's Authors: Adin Lears, Ph.D.

April 5, 2021 at 4:00pm
(virtual event)

Adin Lears, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of English at VCU, where she teaches courses in English and medieval studies. This talk examines Chaucer's attunement to the hubbub of the common voice in his early dream vision, "The House of Fame," where the noises of rumor and gossip emerge as a means of distributing authority and cultivating relational ways of being and knowing grounded in sensory experience and resonance. Check out our interview with Dr. Lears here.

Register here
Meet VCU's Authors: Aspen Brinton, Ph.D.

April 19, 2021 at 4:00pm
(virtual event)

Aspen Brinton, Ph.D. is a political theorist. She will discuss how her new book "Confronting Totalitarian Minds: Jan Patočka on Politics and Dissidence" is relevant to contemporary political movements.

Register here
Meet VCU's Authors: Kathleen Graber

April 26, 2021 at 4:00pm
(virtual event)

Professor of English and Creative Writing Kathleen Graber will read from and discuss her recent collection of poems, "The River Twice."

This event is co-sponsored by the Richmond Public Library.

Register here

Faculty Spotlight:
Dr. Chris Cynn, Associate Professor of GSWS

Written by Dr. Myrl Beam, Assistant Professor of GSWS

I am so pleased to shine a spotlight on the remarkable work of Dr. Christine Cynn, Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Dr. Cynn is a truly interdisciplinary scholar and teacher, bringing together feminist, queer, postcolonial and critical race theories with cultural studies methodology to examine a host of contemporary cultural products, especially those that narrate and mediate the racialized, gendered, and classed experience of disease, risk, value, perversion, and illness. Dr. Cynn’s work asks us to think critically about the discourses of disease and risk that make different bodies differently valuable and the systemic processes expose some bodies to early death. 

Dr. Cynn’s first book, Prevention: Gender, Sexuality, AIDS, and the Media in Côte d’Ivoire, was released by the Ohio State University Press in 2018, as part of the Press’ Abnormativities: Queer/Gender/Embodiment series, edited by Scott Herring. Since its publication, Prevention has been taken up across disciplines in order to investigate the multiple, sometimes competing, discursive regimes within which HIV prevention media operate. With what reviewers have called “deft analytical writing” and “deep, insightful close readings,” Dr. Cynn analyzes the ways the HIV prevention messages work to bolster normative conceptions of family within the context of neoliberal globalization and nation-building projects. Dr. Cynn’s research on this book was supported by a Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship in Abidjan, a Mellon Fellowship at Barnard College, and the inaugural VCU HRC Residential Fellowship.

The issues that lie at the heart of Dr. Cynn’s book, as well as her broader scholarly agenda, are animated by her own experience as an HIV/AIDS community organizer, first in New York City, working with low income and homeless people living with HIV and AIDS, and then in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire. As she writes in the intro to her book, the questions that guide her inquiry were first posed to her by the women living with HIV she encountered while living in Abidjan as a Fulbright researcher and Professor at the national university. 

Dr. Cynn’s second book is a collection entitled Literary and Visual Representations of HIV/AIDS: Forty Years Later, co-edited with Aimee Pozorski and Jennifer LaVoie. In the words of Hiram Perez, Director of Women’s Studies at Vassar College: “Here cultural critique supplements the best kind of close reading, at once imaginative and historically accountable, laying bare the neo-liberalization of social policy as well the enduring rhetoric of blame/responsibility in all its stigmatizing force.” The recipient of both the CHS Seed award and an HRC research grant, Dr. Cynn is at work on her next book project, entitled “A Witness of My Time”: Visual Arts, AIDS, and the Archive. In this book, Dr. Cynn will turn her attention to visual art in the US in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as to the production of the archive of HIV/AIDS itself, interrogating the social and political work that collecting, recording, and preserving the visual art does in narrating a particular story of HIV/AIDS. 

In addition to her writing, Dr. Cynn is also a filmmaker who has produced award-winning films, including co-producing Pote Mak Sonje: The Raboteau Trial, a film about the participation of women victims and activists in a landmark trial of former military and paramilitary members for a massacre in Raboteau, Haiti, which screened at over 40 national and international film festivals. Dr. Cynn’s film and video work extend her scholarship, reaching new audiences and enabling robust and reciprocal community partnership. 

As a teacher, Dr. Cynn offers her students transformative experiences, the opportunity to challenge their commonly-held assumptions about the world, and think critically about the arrangements of power that have produced and maintain the status quo - as well as the space and tools to imagine new, more just, ways of being in the world. Dr. Cynn has re-imagined a number of classes core to GSWS major as well as key cross-listed courses, including Illness Narratives, cross-listed with both English and Science, Technology, and Society and Narratives of Asian American Sexuality, cross-listed with English. She also regularly teaches in the GSWS post-baccalaureate certificate program and has re-imagined the Gender and Cultural Production graduate course to focus on visual cultural productions that contest and reshape understandings of HIV/AIDS, appealing to graduate students across the university, from MATX Ph.D. students to Art History, to Health Psychology, to Sociology. Her classes are rigorous but generous - as is she herself, in fact: a careful, nuanced thinker of unfailing kindness and generosity.

Alongside her scholarship and teaching, Dr. Cynn brings the same careful, thoughtful attention to her service to the field and the university, recognizing that, as a feminist educator working for social justice, her service contributions can be key mechanisms to ensure greater access for historically marginalized students, staff, and faculty. In this effort, Dr. Cynn has taken on yeoman's work, both within the department, where she has shepherded through key governance, curricular, and programmatic transformations, as well as at the college and university level. Some key contributions include: serving on the LGBTQ Studies “big idea” search that brought our new colleagues Dr. madison moore, Dr. Christopher Ewing, and Dr. Ying-Chao Kao, as well as the development of the LGBTQ Studies minor, her long-term role on the CHS Faculty Council, and the development of numerous timely and critical events, including an event on Anti-Asian Violence, co-facilitated with Dr. Jennifer Rhee in March 2021. 

Dr. Cynn brings to all her work an uncommon level of care--not only for the issues and ideas at the heart of her work, but also for the people that animate them, and for her students and colleagues. Thank you, Dr. Cynn, for your extraordinary work!

News of Achievements

Congratulations to Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D., on the publication of "Shakespeare's Audiences," a collection of essays he co-edited with Peter Kirwan (University of Nottingham).

Congratulations to Robert Sims, Ph.D., on the publication of "The Three-Fold Selves in García Márquez's Writing" in The Oxford Handbook of Gabriel García Márquez.

Congratulations to Kathryn Murphy-Judy, Ph.D., on the publication of an article in the Journal of Languages and International Studies. She will be the guest editor for volume 26 to be published in June 2021.

Did you miss the HRC's latest speaker series or Meet VCU's Authors event?


Catch up on past event recordings on the HRC multimedia page.

Humanities Events Around Richmond
April 1st
> Belle Isle, Bertrands and Huguenots Virtual Talk at the Lancaster VA Historical Society
> Catalyst for Change: How Diversity Makes Businesses Stronger at the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce

April 2nd
> Freedom Fridays at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
> Kandis Williams: A Field at the ICA
> Racial Equity Speaker Series: Ijeoma Oluo at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women's Center

April 3rd
> Civil War and Emancipation Day Virtual Tour — Women in the Wickham House at The Valentine 

April 6th
> Grow Native Series Plight of the Pollinator: How to Support Pollinating Insets with Celia Vuocolo at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
> 3 in 30: The First Hundred Years of Photography at the VMFA

April 7th
> VMFA Circle Lecture Series - Worshiping the Jina: Rituals of Jain Devotion at the VMFA

April 8th
> At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Tamika Y. Nunley at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies
> Facing the Anthropocene: A Conversation with Willis Jenkins at the Kenan Institute for Ethics
> Thomas Jefferson in Italy at the VMFA

April 9th 
> Genealogy Virtual Workshop: Private Papers at the Library of Virginia
> Black Feminist Research Ethics: The Role and Impact of Black Feminist Researchers Locally and Globally Virginia Tech

April 10th
> In the Beginning: Virginia, Along the Trail of Enslaved Africans at the Elegba Folklore Society Culture Center
> Collecting Art 101 at the VMFA
> Go On, Get Out There! Getting Your Work Noticed Class at the Writer House Inc.

April 14th
> The Abuse of Military History at the Virginia War Memorial

April 15th
> By Broad Potomac's Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation's Capital with Kim Roberts at the Library of Virginia
> Asian American Plural: The Three Continents of Abeer Hoque's "Olive Witch" (Asian Centennial Event) at the College of William and Mary
> The Post-Revolution Evolution of Dining in America and Great Britain at the Wilton House Museum
> Plein-Air Landscape Painting in 19th Century France: methods and Materials at the VMFA

April 17th
> This is Us: Preserving Our Church Histories Webinar from Virginia Humanities
> Online Master Class | Identity Crisis: What is Genre and Why Does it Matter? with Literary Agent Paige Wheeler at James River Writers

April 18th
> An Exploration of Landscape and History with Michael Gaige and Peter Crane at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation

April 21st
> "Criminal"/"This is Love" Live Show with Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer at the ICA

April 22nd
> Book Talk with Jeff Hunt at the American Civil War Museum
> Native American Narratives: Art, Culture and Memory at the VMFA

April 23rd
> Women's History Month Talk and Reception at Stonewall Brigade Museum

April 24th
> Transcribe-a-thon at the Library of Virginia
> Exit Strategies: How to End a Poem at the Writer House Inc.

April 26th
> East Asian Cultural Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic at the University of Virginia
> Race in France - From Early Modern to Modern Times at the Institute of Historical Research

April 28th
> Collections and Anthologies Writing Show at James River Writers
> Virginia Festival of Jewish Film at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

April 29th
> Webinar: Ecological Resiliency and Design Inspiration — The 2019 Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at the Branch Museum of Art and Design

April 30th
> Children's Literature Online Lecture Series: The Secret Garden: Critical Editions and Cultural Change with Professor Peter Hunt at Hollins University
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