Author: Samantha Canevez

Humanities Names 2024 Departmental and Program Scholars

A hearty congratulations to our humanities departmental and program scholars! These awards recognize outstanding performance of one undergraduate student in each of our three programs, as well as the department as a whole.

Congratulations to Griffin Six, our English program scholar, Alli Churchwell, our communication, culture, and media program scholar, and Aracely Hernandez-Ramos, our scientific and technical communication program scholar! Each program scholar receives $100 from the department in recognition of their achievements.

Griffin Six has also been named our humanities departmental scholar! Griffin will receive an additional $200 from the department, as well as eligibility for the Provost’s Award for Scholarship, which awards an additional $800 to recipients.

Congratulations and excellent work to all of our amazing humanities scholars!

Modern Languages Spring Celebration 2024 Scheduled for Wed. April 10

Modern Languages & Cultures is happy to host a celebration of our Minor students, especially those graduating this Spring and Summer 2024 with a minor in French, German or Spanish. We will gather on Wednesday, April 10th, 6-7.30PM in Walker, 134.

Mingle with us, play games, sing karaoke songs in the four languages, meet people and have fun! Taste a snippet of our foods.

Celebrating language minors at the 2023 Modern Languages Spring Celebration.

Rhetoric, Theory, & Culture Students Recognized for Academic Achievements

Several of our graduate students in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program have been recognized this spring for achievements in both teaching and research!

Basanti Timalsina was awarded a Spring 2024 Finishing Fellowship by the graduate school, which is funding her research for the spring semester as she finishes her doctoral dissertation and prepares for her thesis defense. Click Here too learn more about Basanti’s research and the topic of her dissertation. Congratulations and good luck, Basanti!

Reid Devoge has been recognized with the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, which is granted to graduate student instructors who have displayed excellence in teaching within their department. Reid is a PhD student in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture program, as well as the Deputy Director of Michigan Tech Public Safety and Police Services. Congratulations, Reid!

Brilynn Janckila has been awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, which recognizes excellence among graduate students in the year of their graduation. Students may be nominated for the award who display outstanding qualities in areas such as research, teaching, leadership, dissertation quality, and departmental involvement, to name a few. Brilynn is scheduled to complete her PhD in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture this year. Congratulations and good luck, Brilynn!

Alumni Student Social in Dresden Scheduled for May 10, 2024

Stephanie Rowe, German professor in the Humanities Department, is hosting an Alumni Student event on Friday, May 10, 2024 during the faculty-led study abroad program Topics in Germany.  Event details and RSVP can be found on the alumni event page Dresden, Germany Alumni Student event, organized by Stephanie Rowe (’95), Associate Teaching Professor, MTU.

Alumni are invited to join the students for an evening on their study abroad, including a leisurely stroll through the Zwinger grounds, where students and alumni will have an opportunity to get to know each other, dinner at the Sophienkeller, and a walk past the porcelain Fürstenzug to Neumarkt, where we will cap of the evening  with a concert in the Frauenkirche.

Victor Wiesen Awarded SURF Scholarship for Summer 2024

Congratulations to Victor Wiesen on a successful proposal for the SURF scholarship!

Victor is interested in examining the environmental impact of traditional practices of preparation and disposition of remains and comparing those impacts with “green” or “natural” burial practices. In this initial stage of research, Victor will utilize ethnographic research methodology to reveal attitudes and compare social and cultural practices and beliefs surrounding end-of-life disposition practices in Germany and the United States. When we understand the impediments to reducing the environmental impact of these cultural practices, we can more effectively map a pathway to preferable funereal practices. This research reflects a critical aspect of sustainability, especially when one considers that within one lifetime, 8 billion dispositions will take place. Through this type of research, we can potentially accomplish this with minimal impact on the planet.

Stephanie Rowe, Associate Teaching Professor in Humanities, is the faculty mentor for this research. Victor Wiesen is a first year ME student.

Modern Languages Film Series Returns for 2024

The annual film series sponsored by Modern Languages returns this week for spring 2024! Each of the languages offered, French, Spanish, and German, will be represented by one of the films, which all screen at 7pm in Fisher Hall and are free and open to the public!

Here is the lineup for this year:

Thursday March 21


Demers 2020, Canada
When a transnational pipeline leads to a successful Québec sovereignty referendum, a small border road becomes a lightning rod of conflict between the new Québec military, the Canadian Armed Forces and two indigenous women who traverse the border frequently.

Wednesday, March 27

Argentina, 1985

Mitre 2022, Argentina
A team of lawyers takes on the heads of Argentina’s bloody military dictatorship during the 1980s in a battle against odds and a race against time in order to bring justice to victims of the junta.

Thursday, March 28

The Silent Revolution

Kraume 2018, Germany
Based on the true story of a group of twelfth-grade students in East Germany who decide to show their solidarity with the victims of the 1956 Hungarian uprising by staging two minutes of silence during lessons.

For more information on Modern Language minors at Michigan Tech, visit

Laura Fiss’ “The Idler’s Club” To Hit Shelves January 31

Portrait of Laura Kasson Fiss holding "The Idler's Club"
Laura Kasson Fiss explores Victorian humor through the cast of literary figures that contributed to the Idler literary magazine in The Idler’s Club.

The Idler’s Club: Humour and Mass Readership from Jerome K. Jerome to P.G. Wodehouse, written by faculty member Laura Kasson Fiss, is set to be released on January 31, 2023, from Edinburgh University Press. A release party will take place Friday, February 3, from 12-1 PM at the Van Pelt and Opie Library to celebrate the publication.

The Idler’s Club explores the humor of the key contributors to the Idler literary magazine, “. . . finding connections between people that we don’t really think of today as being connected.” Fiss explains, “They were all in this social network.” By creating humor around the idea of the Victorian social club while simultaneously using “The Idler’s Club” column to create one of their own, authors from Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes stories) to J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan) to Israel Zangwill (whose book, Melting Pot, inspired the oft-used metaphor) created these social and literary connections.

“A lot of them were outsiders, trying to foster social mobility at one point or another.” Fiss observes that the club was “. . . a kind of double-edged sword” that could be both appealing and damaging, and “often both at the same time.” But humor offered these writers and contributors a way to convey multiple meanings simultaneously.

Fiss’ passion for Victorian literature and humor began as an undergraduate, when she studied both English and Music and wrote a thesis for each, both centered around the comedic theatrical partnership Gilbert and Sullivan. Her graduate studies continued to focus on the topic of humor, which would lay the groundwork for The Idler’s Club.

“I’m really proud of it! I’m really excited to have other people read it, and I’m really hoping to have more people take up the topic of Victorian humor.”

Readers can save 30% off Idler’s Club by pre-ordering the book before its official release date on Tuesday using the code NEW30 on the Edinburgh University Press web site.

Laura Vidal-Chiesa Inducted into AAC&U Future Leaders Society

portrait of Laura
As a finalist for the K. Patricia Cross Award, Laura was recently inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society.

Humanities PhD candidate Laura Vidal-Chiesa has been inducted into the American Association of Colleges and Universities Future Leaders Society, presented at the AAC&U Annual Meeting in San Francisco Jan 18-20 2023.

“First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Andy Fiss and Dr. Maria Bergstrom for the nomination to the K. Patricia Cross Award. While I wasn’t a winner, I was selected as one of the finalists, which means I have been inducted into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society. I’m very excited about all of the resources that come with it, and looking forward to bringing as many of those back into our department and sharing them with our instructors and faculty,” said Vidal-Chiesa.

According to AAC&U’s web site, “The Inductees into the AAC&U Future Leaders Society share a profound commitment to high-quality teaching and learning, equity, and community engagement.” Membership includes access to “unique, cross-disciplinary opportunities for professional development, networking, and mentorship” as well as training and development resources for future educators.

“The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. ”

Laura is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture (RTC) Program, as well as the Assistant Director for the Composition Program. In addition to writing and composition, her research includes topics like emotional labor, organizational communication, feminism, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI.) She hopes to graduate this upcoming summer, 2023.

Congratulations, Laura!

Fiss Wins 2023 CCCC Technical or Scientific Communication Book Award

Humanities faculty member Andrew Fiss has been awarded Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication by the Conference on College Composition and Communication for his 2020 book Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom.

Performing Math discusses the history of mathematics education in nineteenth-century American colleges, the anxiety that surrounded (and still surrounds) the subject, and the often performative nature of mathematics teaching and learning. In a review for the book Amir Alexander, author of Proof! How the World Became Geometrical, said “Through an impressive array of evidence and historical accounts, Performing Math convincingly shows that mathematics education has often had a significant theatrical component. Without a doubt this book illuminates mathematics and its place in American culture in new and surprising ways.”

In a press release for the award, the CCCC selection committee noted “Compelling, well-researched, and a very interesting read. Though Fiss’s book focuses on the historical instruction of math, his ideas about classroom performance can be translated to other fields.” And, “While it is historical, it covers a technical topic and anxiety in a way that provides some insight into the resistance seen with technology projects and tools. The takeaways from the book … can be applied broadly to pedagogy, workplace, and any other situation where anxiety exists.”

In light of the award, Fiss reflected on Performing Math, “…its first printing was in November 2020, so it wasn’t possible to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic or the changes in education as a result. Specifically, though I talk about written testing in math, I feel like the book does privilege oral, face-to-face communication (including in student songs and plays about math). What those historical stories mean for education has changed since 2020, as the general expectations of post-2020 education are still developing.”

Andy also expressed pride in being able to bring the award back to the Humanities department, and gratitude for the inspiration received from prior Humanities award recipients. Works like Bob Johnson‘s Romancing the Atom (which also won the TSC Best Book) and the multiple awards both won and inspired by the work of Beth Flynn all had an impact on Fiss. “It was so inspirational! I hope this news similarly helps other people along in their work.”

The award will be presented at the CCCC Annual Convention in Chicago on Friday, February 17. “The Conference on College Composition and Communication, with more than 4,000 members and subscribers, supports and promotes the teaching and study of composition, rhetoric, and communication skills at the college level, both in undergraduate and graduate programs.”