The MELUS Elections for the next Executive Committee (2015-2018) are taking place the first week of December through December 31, 2014. Please look for an email with the SurveyMonkey link to your ballot. Voting must be completed by December 31. If you do not receive a ballot via email, please contact the Election Committee: Christa Baiada email@example.com and JoAnne Ruvoli firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidate statements can be found below. For a description of particular duties of each office, see the MELUS Constitution.
Joseph Kraus, University of Scranton
I’ve been a MELUS member since 1999 when I first published in the journal, and I have missed only one conference since 2001. The Society has been my academic home for the last 15 years, the place where I have incubated most of my scholarship, but that’s only the start of it. I have also found sympathy, perspective, and advice as a writer, a teacher, and someone negotiating a career in academia. I have tried to give back; I co-organized the 2010 Conference in Scranton, served as an election coordinator three years ago, and contributed to the Best Essay awards committee for the last two years. Still, I feel I owe MELUS more, and I hope I can balance my account by helping the organization be for others what it has been for me. As president, my chief responsibility would be the long-range work of securing host universities for future conferences, and I like to think I have already begun that challenge through the relationships I have cultivated in my years in the Society. More broadly, I would want as president to ensure that we continue our shared work in the spirit Katherine Newman first proposed it: to recognize that the study of multiple ethnic experiences calls on us to recognize multiple strategies and multiple perspectives. We have to remain open not just to new voices – both new authors to study and new colleagues to undertake that study – but to new critical approaches and new structures of representation.
Christopher Gonzalez, Texas A&M University-Commerce
An Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Commerce, I teach diverse literatures of the United States across a variety of media forms. I have been an active and participating member of MELUS since 2007. I was the MELUS Graduate Student Representative from 2009-2012, and I have attended every MELUS conference since I first became a member. I cannot imagine my career without thinking of the robust MELUS community of amiable and cutting-edge scholars who have guided me along the way. As Program Chair, I will continue the excellent work of my predecessors in organizing the MELUS conference as well as MELUS-sponsored panels at the MLA Convention and the ALA Conference. If elected, I will work diligently to uphold and to further the function of MELUS as the gold-standard for scholarship on and teaching of multiethnic literatures of the United States. I am proud of my relationship with such an excellent organization as MELUS. It has been of such value to me in my development as a teacher and scholar, and I welcome the chance to take a larger role in the organization. I would be most honored by your vote.
Anastasia Turner Lin, University of North Georgia
As an active and enthusiastic member of MELUS for the last 5 years, I am eager to further engage in the MELUS community. To that end, I would like to capitalize on my administrative skills by serving as Secretary of MELUS. As the former Assistant Director of Honors at the newly consolidated University of North Georgia, I worked collaboratively to re-envision the Honors program at my campus. Through numerous meetings with stakeholders across 4 campuses, I aided the development of a much more robust Honors community. I now serve as the Assistant Dean of Student Research and Scholarship at UNG. In this post, I coordinate the initiatives of our Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. These duties include organizing faculty presentations, supporting our student research conference, and directing two separate competitive funding programs for faculty/student collaborative research. My ability to work cooperatively with representatives from different organizations will serve me well as Secretary of MELUS. My vision for this position is to use my communication and team work skills to assist my fellow officers direct the future growth of MELUS.
Jackie K. White, Lewis University
I would like to serve MELUS in the position of secretary, build on the successes of past Boards, and share with others the work of our organization. I have held a similar role on several college and university committees, being the lead writer of final reports (Diversity Hiring Task Force, Online Student Evaluations, and, most recently, the drafter of several memos sent on behalf of the Chairs’ committee) and the driving force for recruitment in the English Department for which I was elected Chair, pre-tenure. In addition, I have expert organizational skills, having conducted and written the report for the Department’s last Program Review and as the lead facilitator of the Committee for Latino Scholarly and Student Events, altogether honing my expertise in scheduling, networking both internally and externally, collaboration and consensus building, and communicating efficiently and effectively. I have been a fairly active member of MELUS for 8 years, having presented on several panels and having been part of the MELUS panel on Latino/a new directions for ALA, as well. Collegial evaluations note that I am reliable, dedicated, passionate about follow-through, and fun to work with, thus I will seek the mentorship of previous secretaries so as to better support the new Board and all of the members (and future members!) of MELUS.
Kim Long, Delaware Valley College
I respectfully ask for your support to continue as the MELUS treasurer for another term. The position has changed substantially since I first assumed it, moving from a simple position of managing the checking account (taking membership checks and occasionally paying out some expenses for conferences and events) to managing the organization’s comprehensive financial responsibilities. These include investments, tax returns, and wire transfers (necessary because of relationship with Oxford University Press). While as treasurer, I also manage the resources associated with technology, such as the website, and, in fact, I was the one who first secured the melus.org<http://melus.org> domain and set up the first social media for organization. While the content responsibilities have now shifted to the Membership and Media Chair, I still am able to assist with website updates and postings as necessary.
With consistent turnover in the Executive Board in many other positions, including the editor for this term, I believe that my organizational memory has been valuable to MELUS’s operations. Also, because MELUS has some long-term investments and a more complex financial structure, my particular background, skills, and experiences make me unusually suited for this position. As a dean who oversees a diverse group of disciplines, I have respect and understanding of business practices and technology while remaining grounded in my literary scholarship. Serving MELUS in this way is important to me, and I again ask for your support.
Melissa Dennihy, Queensborough Community College, CUNY
Having served on the MELUS Executive Committee for the past three years in the role of Graduate Student Representative, I have already demonstrated active involvement in and commitment to the society. My past experience on the Executive Committee also means that I have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities of the Membership Chair specifically, and of Executive Committee members generally. Serving on the Executive Committee has also given me a clear sense of MELUS’s goals and values. One of the greatest aspects of MELUS is the sense of intimacy and community our members share. As Membership Chair, I will seek to expand the MELUS membership while also remaining attentive to maintaining our sense of community. I am also committed to providing means for MELUS members to remain in continuous conversation with one another, not just at our annual conferences but also beyond them; to this end, I will strive to make MELUS a more regular presence on social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter. Aside from my experience and past service to the society, my personality itself also makes me a good candidate for Membership Chair: I am organized and task-focused, outgoing and welcoming. I would be delighted by the opportunity to continue to serve the members of our society.
Sherry Johnson, Grand Valley State University
I would like to run for Membership Chair. I have been an active member or MELUS since 2010. Additionally, I have consistently attended and participated in the conference events throughout this time. Throughout my tenure and participation as a member I have witnessed that MELUS provides not only invaluable presentations of important and astute scholarship; it also pays attention to the professionalizing needs of its members. These are some principal reasons that I am invested in the maintenance and growth of this important organization. As the past Director of African and African American Studies at Grand Valley State University I have gained experience maintaining membership logs (for both faculty and students), as well as updating the website. Once I have spent time assessing the way in which maintaining and updating the membership has been done in the past, I can effectively evaluate what has worked well and then devise a plan for best steps in order for us to continue forward movement in meeting current member needs and in recruiting new members. I possess all the organizational and strong communications skills necessary to hold post as Member Chair. Most importantly, however, I am willing to learn all that is needed to continue to build on the strong foundations that make MELUS the organization that it is today.
Cristina Stanciu, Virginia Commonwealth University
I’m an Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I teach courses in US Multiethnic and Indigenous Literatures and Critical Theory. In graduate school, I worked for the U of Illinois Press for 1 year, and I was the Assistant Editor of the journal American Literary History (Oxford UP), for 2 years. I have been a MELUS member for several years and have participated in the intellectual life of the organization by presenting papers, organizing roundtables and panels on pedagogy, reviewing for the journal, and publishing in the journal (forthcoming, summer 2015). Karen Skinazi’s shoes will be pretty hard to fill, but I will do my best to continue the exceptional work she has done as Membership Chair, from prompt updates to an increased visibility on social media, new fabulous website, and a sense of camaraderie among members. I would like to continue this work and maintain the organization’s visibility on social media (especially the visible Facebook page), and include more participants in the in the Fb MELUS Bulletin board. I would also like to facilitate forums for group member discussion—from issues of Pedagogy, where many members can participate, to more specialized discussions on pressing issues in U.S. Multiethnic and Indigenous studies. To that end, I would like to encourage members to publicize their work (published and forthcoming) and to share resources with the other members (from fellowship opportunities, to national and international grants). I hope to use my charm and networking skills to attract new members, and will do my best to create opportunities for MELUS members to be involved in the intellectual life of the organization.
Tracy Floreani, Oklahoma City University
As Secretary of MELUS for the past three years I have come to know the workings of the leadership body and the organizational structure, and I look forward to continuing my service to the Society. My goals for the position of Project Chair are to 1) maintain the previous Project Chair’s work on the annual award for outstanding essay in the journal MELUS; 2) update and further develop our pedagogical resources; 3) provide some level of continuity and “institutional memory” for the changing membership of the Executive Council.
Valerie Frazier, College of Charleston
I am an Associate Professor of English at the College of Charleston, where I teach African American, multicultural, and American literatures. I have a long history of advocacy for Ethnic and African American Studies at this institution, petitioning for the first African American studies course at the College of Charleston and designing, seeking curriculum approval, and implementing the first Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States course at the college, as well. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and M.P.A. from the College of Charleston and University of South Carolina. My research centers on contemporary African American, postcolonial, and women’s literature. I have articles published in African American Review and CLA Journal. In addition, I am currently working on a book on the critical reception of Gwendolyn Brooks. I am a proud member of MELUS and currently serve as the local host committee chair for the 2016 MELUS conference in Charleston, S.C., March 3-6, 2016. If elected as Special Projects Chair, I am interested in exploring the connections between Ethnic literatures of the United States and photography (such as seen in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller or bell hooks’ “In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life”). I would encourage developing more MELUS conference panels on photography and Multi-Ethnic literature. In addition, I would make provisions for photographing and archiving images that chronicle the history of MELUS, capturing photographs at all conferences and special MELUS panel sessions. My skill set includes successful grant writing, excellent organizational skills, and a sincere commitment to implementing special projects.
Graduate Student Representative
Amy Gore, University of New Mexico
As a second-year doctoral student at the University of New Mexico specializing in Indigenous literature, multi-ethnic literature is an integral part of my scholarship. My dissertation focuses exclusively on the multi-ethnic literature of the Indigenous Gothic, explicating the ways in which Indigenous writers engage with and create new understandings of the Gothic genre. I seek to represent other graduate students with the same dedication to diversity, serving them as a Graduate Student Representative with MELUS.
I currently serve in leadership roles with a variety of professional organizations. In my master’s degree, I was a founding member of Montana State University’s Native American Studies Graduate Student Council and an active member of the English Graduate Student Association. Most recently in my doctoral program, I proposed, organized, and chaired a panel at the MLA on behalf of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literature (ASAIL).
If elected, I would bring those same leadership skills to MELUS graduate students. As a representative, I would like to build even stronger connections between MELUS and other organizations, centering the MELUS organization as the intellectually vital hub not only for those students interested in multi-ethnic literature but also for those in related fields, such as ASAIL and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Because I am already an active member with these organizations and several others, I am eager to promote and serve MELUS in this role and to connect its graduate students with the resources that this networking will bring.
Rachel Luckenbill, Duquesne University
I am a PhD candidate at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA where I am writing my dissertation on four contemporary Native American authors. While I am relatively new to MELUS, my experience at the conference in Oklahoma City convinced me that I want to be part of MELUS’s commitment to encouraging and serving the growing community of multiethnic literature scholars. I would enthusiastically bring to the position of graduate student representative a commitment to multiethnic literature, a joyful appreciation of people and networking, and a track record of service to fellow graduate students.
My experiences have prepared me to recruit new members, organize workshops, and increase online and in-person networking among MELUS graduate students. At Duquesne, I formally mentored three TAs, served as both vice president and graduate studies committee member for the English Graduate Organization, and helped plan a national conference. As an instructional consultant for TAs at Duquesne’s Center for Teaching Excellence I design and facilitate workshops for TA professionalization, create online teaching resources, and consult with graduate students preparing for the job market. I enjoy meeting new people and connecting them to individuals and resources that will be most helpful.
Leah Milne, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
I am a doctoral candidate in my fourth year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and have been an active member in MELUS since 2011. My dissertation argues that contemporary American authors are mobilizing self-conscious fiction in order to represent ethnic identity as mobile and dynamic, resulting in an understanding of ethnicity as fluidly crossing racial, temporal, and textual lines. My leadership experience includes organizing and chairing panels on multiethnic American and postcolonial literature at conferences such as MELUS, the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association, and the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts, as well as co-organizing a national conference centered on the issue of writing in the profession. I helped establish a Postcolonial Research Group at my institution where I received my MA, and serve on both the Graduate Studies Committee and the College Writing Committee at my current institution. My teaching experiences include teaching literature and composition courses at UNCG, as well as working as a contingent faculty member at the University of Indianapolis.
In my teaching, service, and scholarship, I strive to stay current in the field and am dedicated to cultivating a supportive, productive community of scholars within my cohort and in my discipline. At past MELUS conferences and MELUS-run panels, I have learned that some of the more pressing questions and concerns brought up by graduate students at these events include concerns about work-life balance, ideas on how to teach multi-ethnic literature, as well as ways for new scholars to make their work more engaging, dynamic, and relevant. If elected, I will organize panels and roundtables to address these various issues. I will also work to increase graduate student involvement on the Facebook page and other social media in order to extend MELUS’s reach and to open up more opportunities for scholarly interactions and collaboration.