Category Archives: Center For the Humanities Events

Narrating America in the Contemporary Community College


A Public Storytelling Research Forum

(Cross Posted on the Center for the Humanities)

Narrating America in the Contemporary Community College will be a one-day workshop with key participants defining the public role of community college as an inclusive democratic space. Educators and researchers at the Graduate Center, CUNY are organizing this forum for increased public engagement and collaborative research in higher education.

At the forum, research with students’ stories will be the basis for collaborative working groups of students, faculty, administrators, community leaders, and public officials interpreting those stories to improve the community college mission and practice. The ultimate goal of the day is to use this public forum to take students’ voices seriously as the basis for collaborative reflection and action. What is at stake is public reflection on a transforming site of American participation.

Campus Community Organizers

Svetlana Jović is a writing fellow for the Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WAC) program at Bronx Community College. She received her undergraduate and master’s degree at University of Belgrade, Serbia, and is currently a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Svetlana is a visiting lecturer at the Social Sciences and Cultural Studies Department at Pratt Institute, New York, where she teaches courses in psychology.

Tara Bahl is a substitute instructor of urban studies and social sciences at Guttman Community College. She holds a PhD from CUNY Graduate Center in the Urban Education program, with a concentration in education policy. Her dissertation explored the often disconnect between how education policy (college & career readiness) is made, and how high school students experience it in their everyday lives. She is interested in exploring viable strategies that reimagine the college experiences of first-generation-to-college students as student-centered and meaningful—what this looks like in policy, practice, and the lives of students.

Trikartikaningsih (Kiki) Byas is Associate Professor of English at Queensborough Community College of CUNY where she teaches an advanced writing course on the immigrant experience in addition to the regular College Composition classes.  Her research interests include Collaborative Learning, Cross-cultural Communication, Technology Enhanced Learning, and Digital Storytelling.

Rachel Ihara is an Associate Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College, where she teaches literature and composition classes and helps to direct the Freshman Writing Program. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, focusing on American novels and serial publication. Current research interests include writing pedagogy and the relationship between Freshman Composition and college-wide reading and writing practices.

Jesse W. Schwartz is an Assistant Professor at LaGuardia Community College, where he teaches courses in composition and American literature. He received his PhD in English and American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013, and his interests include radical American literature, periodical studies, Marxian theory, and critical race and ethnic studies.

With Presentations by:

Tanzina Ahmed
David A. Caicedo
Colette Daiute
Philip Kreniske 


Narrating Change, Changing Narratives Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research – See recordings of the event here:

Detailed Schedule Narrating (in) Community Colleges this Friday, May 2nd!

Fri May 2, 10:00am – 4:00pm | A Day of Discussion | @The Graduate Center
10-10:15: Coffee/welcome (Sylvia Scribner Conference Room 6304.01)
10:15 – 11:00 Community Voice Research Project – Diverse Perspectives on the Role of the Community College
11- 12: DREAMers Speak: Narratives of DREAM Act Students
Lunch 12 – 1 @ Center for Globalization and Social Change (Rm 5109)
Afternoon Sessions on C Level 198
1:00-2:00 Continuing conversation: Findings from our “Community Voice” research project  – with open discussion and activity session; discussion of the findings with data in hand and implications for practice and policy.
2:15-3:15: No Divide: A Project for Personalizing Academic Writing – campus-wide writing project
3:15-4:00 New Narratives, New Directions: Taking the Next Steps
4-5 Wine & Cheese! Reception @ Center for Place, Culture, and Politics (Rm6107)

Cosponsored by the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities, Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, Center for Globalization and Social Change and the Human Development, Psychology Training Area.

…..event description


Discussions led by a number of Graduate Center and Community College faculty and students (in alphabetical order):


Possibility and Hegemony in Student Expression, Friday, December 6, GC@ 5:30pm

Narrating Change Seminar

Possibility and Hegemony in Student Expression

Friday, December 6th, 5:30pm

Room 6304.01, PhD Program in Psychology

repost from Center for the Humanities  

 narrating hegemony What are the privileged – hegemonic – ways of knowing and being underlying our public educational system? In contrast, what are the students’ ‘alternative’ expressive skills, often overseen or disregarded in the educational setting? How do these questions relate to the problem of perpetuating inequality in our society? Join Professors Christopher Emdin, Angela Reyes and Debangshu Roychoudhury along with Julio Marquez, and Chante Reid for a conversation about the developmental and pedagogical repercussions of inviting or dismissing students’ alternative discursive skills.

Co-sponsored by Narrating Change Seminar



Free and open to the public. All events take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave btwn 34th & 35th. The building and the venues are fully accessible. For more information please visit or call 212.817.2005 or e-mail



Editorial on Roma in the Times

excerpted from the Times:


Scapegoating the Roma, Again


The Roma, sometimes called Gypsies, have been part of the European cultural landscape for centuries. They have also suffered greatly from discrimination and prejudice, particularly in times of economic crisis, when they become scapegoats.

That is happening now. Faced with stubbornly high unemployment and strained budgets, some European Union members are finding it easier to stigmatize and expel Roma than to provide them with the education, housing and employment they seek.

In London, a Roma camp was dismantled over the summer and most of its residents sent back to Romania. In the Czech Republic, Roma children are still routinely segregated in schools. In Sweden, revelations that the police kept a secret registry of Roma families touched off a national storm.

Continue reading the full Times editorial

and come join the conversation with the Narrating Change Seminar @The Graduate Center

Narrating Reform: Roma Educators Narrate Social Inclusion in Europe

Oct 22, 2013, 6:30pm
The Skylight Room (9100)

Tünde Kovacs-CerovicJordan NaidooColette Daiute


Discussion of the Report: “Roma Educators Narrate Reform”

@The Graduate Center,  October 23, 2:00 – 4:00

Please write to for the report and the room number.


Károly BARI, Autobiography of a Cherub
Károly BARI, Autobiography of a Cherub

repost from The Center for the Humanities:

“Social inclusion” is a promise and issue of heated negotiation across Europe, where dramatically changing populations are the result of economic migration, displacement by war and revolution, poverty, and other exclusions. Eleven million Roma in diverse communities are living in marginalized conditions that are central to policies and politics of social inclusion. The Decade of Roma Inclusion, 2005-2015, declared by 13 countries across Eastern Europe to provide an agenda and resources has prompted an education reform (among reforms in health and housing). The Pedagogical Assistant Program in Serbia is a dynamic effort revolving around self-determination by Roma through professional participation in education.  Join us for a presentation and discussion of goals, activities, and tensions in this education reform, with examples from research highlighting perspectives of the Roma teaching assistants.


Tünde Kovacs-Cerovic, Professor of Educational Psychology & Education Policy at Belgrade University
Jordan Naidoo, Senior Education Advisor at UNICEF
Jordan Naidoo, Senior Education Advisor at UNICEF
Colette Daiute, Professor of Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Colette Daiute, Professor of Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

















Cosponsored by the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities.




When Mother Comes Home for Christmas

When Mother Comes Home for Christmas

Oct 9, 2013, 7:00pm
Martin E. Segal Theatre

Sujatha Fernandes, Nilita Vachani

Join film director Nilita Vachani for a screening and discussion of her documentary film, “When Mother Comes Home for Christmas,” which tells the story of a Josephine Perera, abandoned by her husband with three small children, who is one of thousands of Sri Lankan women who have left their country to earn salaries as domestic workers abroad.Sujatha Fernandes will moderate a discussion with the filmmaker following the screening.

This event emerged from Narrating Labor Struggles: Storytelling and Social Change, which can be viewed in our archive.

When Mother Comes Home

Cosponsored by The Center for Place, Culture and Politics and the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities

Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community

Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community, A Narrating Change Seminar

Friday, September 27th, 10:00am, @The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. Room 8106Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community, A Narrating Change Seminar

repost from Center for the Humanities:

(RSVP Information Below)

Join us for our opening meeting, on Friday, September 27, for an open discussion, and creating possible working groups that could collaborate throughout the year. We are particularly interested in discussing potential or ongoing pedagogical and research projects that focus on questions of community formation; that re-think the relationship between “the classroom” and “the community”; and/or that work to reconstitute the CUNY community. We welcome proposals and possibilities from faculty and students working and teaching across all levels of the CUNY campuses. For our first meeting, we propose to think through ways that narrative can contribute to these processes of community formation, and also to share narratives from our own experiences of creating community through our pedagogical and intellectual practices.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities will present a series of meetings, discussions, and working groups to address—in writing, speaking, and publishing—questions regarding the community college as a location and agent of change. Our goal will be to foster collaborations between faculty and students from across the different CUNY campuses around these questions, as part of a larger focus on the question of narrative and community building.

While the community college will be a point of focus, we also intend to open up the larger question of what “community” means for our pedagogical and intellectual practices; what sort of an intellectual community CUNY is (or could be); and how narratives help to shape, constitute, and transform communities.

Because space is limited, please RSVP to any of the seminar co-chairs: Tony Alessandrini []; Colette Daiute []; Svetlana Jovic []; Phil Kreniske [].

For more information on the seminar, go to


Narrating Labor Struggles: Storytelling and Social Change

Apr 17, 2013, 6:00pm | Room C197

Christine LewisMark NowakNilita Vachani Sujatha Fernandes

Repost from The Center for the Humanities:

How can the power of storytelling build public awareness of the struggles of immigrant and low-wage workers? In recent years, storytelling has proven a strong tool for achieving social change, and this practice has been particularly prevalent among immigrants and low wage workers. This panel will bring together director and filmmaker Nilita Vachani, who has documented the stories of immigrant workers, Christine Lewis, a domestic worker activist who used storytelling in the groundbreaking Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign, and the award-winning poet and writer Mark Nowak who works with immigrant social movement organizations. Moderated by Sujatha Fernandes.


Cosponsored by the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities, Women’s Studies, and the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

Narrating Transformation and Transforming through Storytelling

Narrating Transformation and Transforming through Storytelling

Narrating Transformation
Mar 14, 2013, 6:30pm | Room 6496
Shahla Talebi

In Ghosts of Revolution (2011), Shahla Talebi’s haunting account of her years as a political prisoner in Iran, she engages two interrelated premises put forth by Walter Benjamin: that telling stories of lived experiences opens the possibility of a true human connection, the transmission of wisdom, and individual and social transformation; and, to paraphrase Benjamin, that death sanctions everything the storyteller can tell for the storyteller borrows her authority from death. In this sense, Talebi’s writing is a way of  “narrating change”: those stories of struggles that seek transformation—of one’s one’s life and of one’s community—through narration.

Cosponsored by the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities; Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression; the Postcolonial Studies Group; the Committee on Globalization and Social Change; and the Raha Iranian Feminist Collective.

“Networks of trust among image makers”

On the re-publication his 2002 book of poetry, “from the warring factions,” Ammiel Alcalay transformed the James Gallery into a multi-media global poem. After showing a video clip of a 1998 reading with Semezzin, whose book of poems Sarajevo Blues, Ammiel had translated, he told us about some of the relationships, intentions, surprises, and concerns he had around the time of moving from material gathered over many years to publishing “from the warring factions.”

Around and behind Ammiel, he had posted flyers, magazines, notes, faxes, photographs, gathered in the midst of the Bosnian Wars of the 1990s, not only there but everywhere he and his friends and colleagues challenged its meaning with acts of poetry.
Having offered this image making, Ammiel read from the book, sharing this, “Poets clear eye on the world around him, and obligation to put it into words”. The poems he read created a “line of defense against propaganda” about the “horrors of war” to the grounded material human connections among people not only in late 20th century wars, wars Ammiel experienced in poetry, but also across many more places and times and self-consciously this activist poet figuring out “who I was in this”.

Reading examples of this from prior books, Ammiel mentioned challenges to readers and other writers “What does that day mean to you, how do you place yourself Nero, Shelly, Sadam, Miro’, Rome together?”

It was a joy to hear Ammiel read, such as “Old Bridge” from Book 1 of “from the warring factions”:

Miro’ is in “the Museum of Modern Art”
Miro is in Sarajevo.
A famous playwright is on state at Symphony space and over the air on NPR.
The announcer calls me twice during a break to find out how the pronounce the name Izeta.

Izeta is Miro’s wife.
They have a dog.

It is December 1st 1993.

Migration – from here to the big wherever- because the world was watching

Ammiel challenged us to let “the language take you somewhere that you can’t really predict”.