January 19, 2020

Foss Presents Working Chapter from Waple Book Manuscript Project at South Atlantic Modern Language Association

Professor of English Chris Foss

Professor of English Chris Foss

Oscar Wilde

In November, Professor of English Chris Foss presented a paper entitled “’He remembered that the little Mermaid had no feet and could not dance’: The Nexus of Power, Identity, and Relationships in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Fisherman and His Soul’ as Seen through the Lens of Disability Studies” as part of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association conference at the Westin Peachtree in Atlanta. In his paper, Foss argued “The Fisherman and His Soul” offers a fascinating trawl of entangled elements relative to its two main disability-aligned characters, a little Mermaid and a young Fisherman (the latter only becoming so after he cuts away his Soul from his body). The story offers a clear undermining of the sort of monstrous identities those in power insist upon assigning to those different from them in an attempt to limit any new understandings of or relationships with any groups or individuals upon whose othering their authority and privilege depends. This paper represents the first draft of the fourth content chapter for his Waple Professorship book project entitled The Importance of Being Different: Intersectional Disability and Emotional Response in Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales.

Larus Discusses the Road to the U.S. Democratic Nomination in LSE Commentary

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Elizabeth Freund Larus

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Elizabeth Freund Larus

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Elizabeth Freund Larus offered commentary to the London School of Economics on the U.S. Democratic nomination:

“While impeachment is the talk of the town in Washington D.C., we are only months away from the first presidential primary contests. On the Democratic side, the current field is at a historically large 17 candidates, with two late entrants joining the field in recent weeks. While former Vice President Joe Biden has been the frontrunner for most of the year, the popularity of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg show that there are cracks in his lead, which may continue grow in the lead-up to the Democratic convention.”

Read the complete commentary at

The directions we can expect from the US 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race.

Liss Speaks to USA Today Affiliates About Talking to Kids About Santa

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss

Professor of Psychological Science Miriam Liss shared her expertise in an article for two USA Today affiliates, Naples Daily News and Wisconsin State Farmer, on how to talk to children who ask questions about Santa Claus. She said parents often realize children are ready when they ask such questions as:

“How can Santa get into the house without a chimney? How does he travel all over the world in only one night?

She said the best way to handle these questions is to answer them with more questions to gauge the child’s thinking:

What do you think? Do you think it’s possible?

‘Kids who are ready will show that they’re ready,’ Liss said. If they’re not ready for the truth, Liss continued, then they’ll come up with their own explanation to keep the magic alive.” Read more. 

Stommel Quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Jesse Stommel, Senior Lecturer of Digital Learning

Jesse Stommel, Senior Lecturer of Digital Learning

Jesse Stommel, senior lecturer of digital studies, was recently quoted in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “A Teacher’s New Year’s Resolution: Stop Fixating on the Data,” which encourages teachers to lessen the focus on objective measures, rather than learning itself.

Stommel discusses scaffolding, which the author defines as “a popular teaching practice in which faculty members provide support and assistance for students as they initially try to carry out a task or activity, and then gradually reduce that assistance.” The author then shares a recent tweet by Stommel, who said, “We’ve taken for granted that scaffolding is necessarily good. Any pedagogical approach should be looked at with one eyebrow raised. Especially one as widely accepted as instructional scaffolding. Scaffolding should be done with students, not before they’ve arrived on the scene.” Read more. 

Farnsworth Comments in the Regional and National News

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, has been quoted in several regional and national news stories:

Under Trump, voter turnout surges in Virginia’s off-year elections (The Washington Post)

New book: Jokes about the president have surged with Trump (The Washington Post)

Virginia moderates thwart liberals with limits to progressive wish list (The Washington Times)

UMW professor co-authors book on late-night comedy in the age of Donald Trump (The Free Lance-Star; Culpeper Star-Exponent; Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“Town Talk” interview on “Late Night with Trump” (News Talk)

‘Retaliation is Certain’: Farnsworth on Iran (CP24)

Castro Drops Out of 2020 Democratic Race (CTV News Channel)

The New Dominion (Virginia Business)

As Democrats seek a nominee, what qualities can they sell to Virginia’s voters? (Virginia Mercury)

Some Republicans see momentum in gun sanctuary movement. Will it work? (Virginia Mercury)

Impeachment Fallout (1140 WRVA)

Polling, Politics, and Elections (Jewish Policy Center)

Viewpoints with Todd van der Heyden (CJAD Montreal)


Richardson Column in The Free Lance-Star

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson’s weekly column in The Free Lance-Star explores UNCONSCIOUS BIAS AND ASSUMPTIONS.


We’re hearing more and more about unconscious bias in the workplace. That’s caused me to think about where I have seen and, unfortunately, continue to see, assumptions made because of unconscious bias.

First, what is unconscious bias? It has to do with how we see the world through our own lens because of how we were raised. As a white woman, for example, I see the world differently than I would had I been born Asian American or African American. And I certainly see and experience life differently than if I had been born and raised as a man. Unconscious bias also includes many other attributes, including sexual orientation, age, and religious preferences. And the reality is that each of us is biased. Read more. 

Goldman Quoted in Atlanta Journal-Constitution Opinion Piece

Assistant Professor of Communication Adria Goldman

Adria Goldman, Assistant Professor of Communication, was recently quoted multiple times as an expert in African American women and popular culture in the opinion piece “Is Gabrielle Union’s truth really that different from Julianne Hough’s?” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Barry Gives Invited Talk at the University of Pennsylvania

On December 6, 2019, Jennifer Barry, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, was invited to give a talk at the University of Pennsylvania hosted by the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins. Barry presented material she has been working on during her Jepson Fellowship held for the 2019-2020 academic year. Research from the talk, “A Bad Romance: Domestic Violence in Late Antiquity,” is included in a section of her book that focuses on hagiographical narratives that promote and preserve gender based violence.

A recording of the talk will soon be made available for the public.

Barry Presents at Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion Conference

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Jennifer Barry, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, recently presented in two panels and moderated a third panel at the national conference for the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion held in San Diego, CA.

For the first panel, Barry presented new research for her next book project. The paper titled,“Queen Mab visits the Fathers: Fantastic Dreams and Male Desire Revisited,” was presented in the program unit on Religious World of Late Antiquity.

The second panel was held in honor of the esteemed career of Judith Perkins. Barry was asked to contribute her paper, “A Bad Romance: Melania the Younger and the male fantasy,” which builds on many of the important interventions Perkins has made to the subfield of Christian Apocrypha.

In addition to these two panels, Barry organized and moderated a pre-arranged panel on biblical receptions of exile. She now serves as an appointed Steering Committee Member for Exile (Forced Migrations) in Biblical Literature program unit. The pre-arranged panel, Late Antique reception histories of biblical flight: Part I pre-Constantinian period, is the first of two invitational sessions on the reception histories of biblical exile in the long late-antiquity. Many early Christian and non-Christian thinkers looked to biblical text(s) for types and models of flight. Invitees were asked to engage the topic of biblical exile and its reception in the late ancient period. The first session engaged the pre-Constantinian period. A select number of papers will be published in peer-reviewed special journal issue.

She was also elected to serve as a council member on the SBAllies. The informal group is committed to the idea that every scholar, no matter their identity, should be able to participate in a thoughtful and open exchange of ideas without fear or intimidation. Their primary purpose is to inform society members about the SBL anti-harassment policy and to provide information and resources for those who are considering reporting when that policy is violated.


Nabil Al-Tikriti Joins MESA Roundtable Discussion on TARII

Associate Professor of Middle East History Nabil Al-Tikriti joined a roundtable entitled “Iraqi Studies across Disciplines: The Future for an Iraqi Research Center,” at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference on Friday, November 15, in New Orleans, LA.

The roundtable abstract was: “Due to the ongoing legacies of sanctions, authoritarianism, violence, and foreign interventions we have now suffered over 20 years of disconnect between international scholars, who do research in Iraq studies, and their ability to conduct that research inside of Iraq. Following on The Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TARII)’s recently established Center for Research in Baghdad we propose a roundtable to review the state of Iraq Studies in all disciplines and how our research center in Baghdad can contribute to the future of the field. TARII is a registered non-profit devoted to promoting scholarly research on and in Iraq and to strengthen relationships between Iraqi and American scholars and institutions. At this time in particular, Iraq’s important role on the world stage necessitates facilitating research on Iraq with a full and accurate context that can be best accessed inside Iraq. With this panel we hope to provide the opportunity for a robust discussion covering Iraqi history, contemporary politics, cultural heritage, and cultural production across disciplines today.”

Prof. Al-Tikriti originally intended to provide a summary of today’s scholarly literature addressing Iraq during the Ottoman era, he instead provided a set of ideas concerning the future of Iraqi studies with a newly re-opened TARII center in Baghdad, Iraq, based on his experiences with other regional research institutes.

Other participants in the roundtable included Drs. Alda Benjamin, Antoine Borrut, and Katharyn Hanson, who organized the event on behalf of TARII.