MLA specialist Tracy Hartman to explore alternative careers for Humanities PhDs next week

MLA hartman website ad Next week Dr. Tracy Hartman will be visiting UConn to engage graduate students and faculty about expanding their understanding of the career possibilities for those pursuing PhDs in the Humanities.  Dr. Hartman comes to UConn from the MLA, where she serves as Project Coordinator for Connected Academics ( whose mission is to “support initiatives aimed at demonstrating how doctoral education can develop students’ capacities to bring the expertise they acquire in advanced humanistic study to a wide range of fulfilling, secure, and well-compensated professional situations” thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which is slated to run through 2019.

The events include a workshop for graduate students on February 1 and 2 that will each run from 4:00-5:00 pm.  Dr. Hartman will also be holding a workshop for faculty on February 2nd at noon.  In addition Dr. Hartman will give a talk on the importance of Humanities PhDs in the current economic and political context. that will take place on Wednesday, Feb 1 from 1:30-2:30 pm at the Class of 1947 room at the Homer Babbidge Library.  The events are sponsored by LCL, the English Department, the Dean’s Office for CLAS and the UCHI.


Visiting Assistant Professor in French and Comparative Literature

chris bonner

Christopher Bonner joined the faculty of LCL this past fall to teach courses in French and Comparative Literature. He specializes in postcolonial studies and French Caribbean literature, and he seeks in his research to think through the relationship between literature and politics.

He completed his dissertation, The Alignment of Writing: Geopolitics and Literary Form in Cold War French Caribbean Literature, at NYU in 2015. In it, Bonner argues that the Surrealist-inspired avant-garde poetry that had been the touchstone of colonized black writers in the 1940s gave way, in the mid-1950s, to topical, referential prose as the prime vehicle for emancipatory politics in the French Caribbean. This formal shift, he shows, reflected a radically changed understanding of what it meant to write engaged literature, as authors adapted to a new, bipolar world order. Professor Bonner’s next book project builds on his first, but focused on modes of contemporary political engagement and resistance. In his new project, he will address the ways in which the critical strategies underlying the notion of “cultural politics” are themselves being challenged by living writers and theorists in the Caribbean. He has published his scholarship in the journal Small Axe, and has an article forthcoming in the upcoming issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies.

Bonner grew up in Philadelphia, but has lived in New York City for most of his adult life.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University in 2005. He has had a particularly rich experience with respect to teaching. He admits that a high school teacher, Ms. Mulherin, was largely responsible for inspiring the love of French and Francophone culture that lead him to the path of a career in Francophone literatures. After completing his B.A, at Columbia, he decided to become a New York City Teaching Fellow, during which he taught middle-school English in the South Bronx.  Nearly all of his students were disadvantaged, struggling with a combination of poverty, undiagnosed learning disabilities, and unstable home situations. He was forced to learn to take charge of classroom discipline quickly, but more importantly, he says that his “eighth graders taught me the value of empathy. I began to see the classroom as a site for exchange and mutual learning, both among students and between students and myself.” Building a culture of empathy and solidarity have since become principles of his teaching, which Professor Bonner feels are especially important in foreign language classrooms. When voicing ideas in a second language, “students have to feel comfortable enough to risk making mistakes.”

While here at UConn, Professor Bonner will be offering an impressive range of courses, including classes on Global Cinema and World Literatures for the Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies program plus courses in literary theory, literature, and conversation classes.

Irish Fullbright scholar Niamh Nic Leoid in Residence at UConn

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Irish culture, people, landscape, and language? Meet Niamh Nic Leoid, Fulbright scholar, native Irish speaker, and new addition to UConn’s Department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages. She will be here through the academic year teaching beginner and intermediate Irish. Perhaps the first thing one must know about Niamh is that her name is actually pronounced, “Neev.” This displays one of the many unique characteristics of the Irish alphabet: the ‘mh’ sound in Irish is actually said as a ‘v’.

Niamh was born and raised in Galway, Ireland where she grew up in the Irish speaking area of Connemara in a village called Leitir Mealláin. She spent some time living on Inis Meáin, which is the middle of the 3 main Aran islands on the west coast of Ireland. Both areas are known for being strongholds for the Irish language and the traditional Irish culture.

Irish speakers in Ireland are harder to find than one may think. In fact, Irish is the third most spoken language in Ireland, behind English and Polish. Niamh shares that one of the most significant challenges in her career thus far has been explaining to others that Irish isn’t just a dialect of English. “It is its own unique language,” Niamh explains. “It is a Celtic language which also happens to be one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe!” While approximately 44% of the population of Ireland claims to speak Irish, the 2011 census shows that less than 2% of Ireland’s population speaks Irish on a daily basis. Niamh is part of a small minority in her country, but is passionate about sharing the language with anyone ready to learn.

In 2014, Niamh graduated from the University of Limerick with a B.A. in Applied Languages with special concentrations in Irish, French, and Linguistics. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Translation Studies, focusing on Irish and French at University College Cork in Ireland.

Since her undergraduate years, Niamh was eager to travel abroad to teach Irish. She heard about Fulbright through her University, but because obtaining Fulbrights is so competitive, she decided to gain work experience and complete an M.A. before applying. After having successfully applying for the Fulbright, Niamh arrived at UConn in August 2016. She is teaching Elementary and Intermediate Irish here at UConn for the 2016-2017 acadmeci year. Niamh adds, “The Fulbright FLTA application process is very long–it starts in October and the position is confirmed in April. However it is worth all the time and effort for anyone interested in studying or teaching abroad via Fulbright.”

Niamh has thoroughly enjoyed her time at UConn so far. She especially likes being able to teach smaller, more intimate classes, because everyone gets to know each other better, creating a unique classroom community. “This means everyone is always willing to participate in class,” Niamh says. Niamh has learned a lot in a few short months. “The most useful thing I have discovered here is to use everyone and anything around you as a teaching resource.”

After finishing her Fulbright year, Niamh plans to return to Ireland to look for a job in Irish translation. She laughs and says, “As I mentioned, I’m incredibly indecisive, so we’ll see what happens. I would also love to continue teaching Irish to beginners whether through one of the many formal organized language or through language circles or meet ups.” Niamh’s passion for teaching and for the Irish language is evident, and we are lucky to have her as a part of the UConn community.

For more information about in Irish language courses for the spring semester, please contact Niamh directly at or Brendan Kane at