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News / Events

Yvette Kisor’s Essay Published

Yvette Kisor’s essay “Children’s Beowulfs for the New Tolkien Generation” appeared in the volume Beowulf as Children’s Literature: Studies in Adaptation for Youth edited by Britt Mize and Bruce Gilchrist and published by University of Toronto Press in December 2021. Her work on this essay was supported by a travel grant from Ramapo College to the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies, where she delivered a paper that was an early version of the published essay.

Update from James Hoch

Semi-semi-semi-semi professional soccer player in the over 50 division for the Cornwall Eternos and Professor of Creative Writing, James Hoch has two books forthcoming. Radio Static from Green Linden Press and Last Pawn Shop in New Jersey. The former engages the difficulty of brothers trying to communicate across the expanse of a political and experiential divide. It interrogates language’ as the necessary but insufficient  vehicle for connection and intimacy. The latter completes a trilogy of the decadence and bliss, grace and tumult that is the life of a white boy from Jersey. Masculinity (such as it is) parenthood, the flux that is self thread through the collection like a yellow road through black pine. Of Radio Static, Elizabeth Scnalon, Editor of The American Poetry Review, writes: “I love the only way I can,” writes James Hoch, and that love is woven throughout this excellent treatise on compassion and masculinity. Hoch knows a great deal about the complexities and solace of brotherhood, and in these poems we experience an endangered tenderness—the recognition that another can be both yourself and not yourself at the same time. This willingness to grapple with differences and come away with a connection merits your attention. Pick up the walkie-talkie and you will hear “each calling the other: / You there? You there?” Of Last Pawn Shop, poet Matt Donovan comments:  This is an astonishing, beautiful, and utterly unforgettable book, packed with honed and deeply moving poems that drop “lead sinkers in the gray bay of self” as a means of interrogating, among so many other things, grief, privilege, fatherhood, the solace and failures of art, the many ways in which we wound each other, and the inexhaustible desires “we lug our flooded selves toward.” The twins arrive around the holidays.

Allie Cheff Helps NJEC Celebrate its 100th Birthday

History Major Allie Cheff worked with Julie Norflus-Good, the president of the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children this semester on a unique project. They write:

“It is hard to believe that Elizabeth Ferrall began the Council for Exceptional Children 100 years ago. While special education continues to grow,  it is important to remember where this field began and how far it has come to make strides for people with disabilities. CEC is the largest professional organization working to create equality in educational outcomes for students with exceptionalities. To commemorate 100 years of commitment to people with disabilities, we implemented a 100 day long project in the form of a daily blog, titled “Special Education: 100 Days of Facts and Milestones.” Each day, for 100 days leading up to the 100th anniversary in January, a historical fact or milestone will be posted to the blog. The mission of the project is to create greater awareness and understanding, amongst professionals and parents, about the origins of special education. Those who follow along with the daily blog posts will gain knowledge about how policies and practices in the field have changed and how this has led to the current educational and societal conditions surrounding people and students with disabilities. The blog’s objective fits into the larger goal of the Council of Exceptional Children to create a community of professionals who are properly equipped with the knowledge and tools to help their students succeed. More information about the 100 days project and how to subscribe to daily posts can be found on NJCEC’s website at”

More accolades for Forget Russia

Forget Russia, the historical novel by Lisa Williams (aka L. Bordetsky-Williams) was reviewed in the September/October issue of Hadassah Magazine and featured on their website.  The Association of Jewish Libraries recently recommended Forget Russia for all Jewish libraries and for book groups.  An interview with Lisa about the novel and her years of research will be featured on the CUNY Graduate Center’s website later this year.


Never Caught, Revisited

Monday, 8 November, 1:00 p.m. in the York Room. Pizza will be served!

Ramapo Professors Indya Jackson, Karl Johnson, Diana Judd, Sarah Koenig, and librarian Christina Connor will share their expertise on some of the issues raised by the summer reading, Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, focused particularly on politics, history and literature.












Yvette Kisor Article Published in Tolkien Studies

Yvette Kisor’s article “‘The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun’: Sexuality, Imagery, and Desire in Tolkien’s Works” was just published in Tolkien Studies, the foremost journal in the field (vol. 18, 2021, pp. 19-62). Her work on this article was supported by a travel grant from the Ramapo Foundation as well as an FDF grant to work in the Tolkien Archive at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

In addition, during the pandemic she has participated in three virtual conferences. She was invited to deliver the Keynote at Oxonmoot Online in September 2020, and spoke on “What Does It Mean to Talk about Tolkien and Diversity? A Look within and without the Legendarium.”

She served as a moderator for “Tolkien and Diversity: A Round Table Discussion” at the virtual International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, England in July 2021, and delivered her paper “Romance and Sexuality in Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer” at the virtual Fifty-sixth International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, in May 2021 (originally scheduled for May 2020).

She was appointed to the Editorial Board of Mallorn, the scholarly journal of the Tolkien Society, in 2020. Finally, she contributed to Beowulf by All: A Community Translation and Workbook published by ARC-Humanities Press in 2021 (lines 582b-600).

HGS Fall 2021 Lecture Series Events

NJ Policy Issues

Learn from, and interact with, policy makers and issue advocates about key issues in New Jersey.

Join us on WebEx for the following events:

“Housing Policy: Expanding Affordable Housing through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.”
Wednesday, October 6 at 6:05 pm
The lecture will be delivered by Lynn Bartlett, Executive Director at the Housing Authority & Housing Development Corporation of Bergen County.

“Race, Health, and Cannabis”
Wednesday, October 20 at 6:05 pm
The lecture will be delivered by NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission Chair Dianna Houenou and Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso

Dianna Houenou serves as Chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, appointed by Governor Phil Murphy in 2021. As Chair, she works with other members of the Commission and the Executive Director to successfully stand up and operate New Jersey’s first agency to regulate the adult-use cannabis market.

Sam Mustafa Joins Stacie Taranto as Co-Convenors in History

After five years of running the History Convening group solo, Stacie Taranto welcomes Sam Mustafa as co-convenor, starting in Fall 2021. Stacie and Sam will work to implement the new directions for the major that were identified in its recent self-study. They will divide the work with Stacie taking the point on administrative matters and Sam serving as our students contact.


Jane Addams Papers Project Awarded a Grant of $160,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Cathy Moran Hajo is delighted to announce that the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) awarded the Jane Addams Papers Project a grant supporting the project’s work. The NHPRC, a division of the United States National Archives, supports grants for archives and documentary editing and has supported the project at Ramapo College since 2015. Funds will be used for salaries, students, and research costs.

Stacie Taranto to Serve as Guest Editor of Made by History in July

Congratulations to Stacie Taranto who was named a guest editor for the Washington Post’s daily online page for political historical analysis, entitled “Made by History.” Stacie has previously contributed to the column, writing articles with Leandra Zarnow such as: “Maryland Needs a Woman in Congress,” in May 2021, “Mixed 2020 election results show that women still face a sexist political culture,” in November 2020, and “For Kamala Harris’s Choice to Really Matter, She Must Be a True Partner to Biden,” in August 2020.

Patrick Centeno to intern with the Washington Internship Institute Summer Program

Patrick Centeno, a rising senior majoring in International Studies, recently began a remote internship through the Washington Internship Institute Summer program. In addition to taking two courses, an internship seminar and International and Foreign Policy Studies, Patrick will intern with the  Department of Defense’s NESA Center for Strategic Studies. This regional center, composed of military experts, scholars, and distinguished professors, promotes the enhancement of security cooperation with partner nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia. Patrick will be assisting with research, pursuing publication opportunities, and participating in NESA think tanks and conferences. He anticipates that he will gain valuable experience in the fields of foreign policy and diplomacy in NESA nations.

Lisa Williams’s Forget Russia Selected as Editor’s Choice

The Historical Novel Society selected Forget Russia, Lisa Williams‘s new novel as an Editor’s Choice. The review called the book “a luminous look at Russia in the 20th century through the lens of one Jewish woman and her granddaughter. The lyrical language, the complex characters, and the detailed settings create an enthralling story. . . . This is a beautiful and fascinating story you will not want to put down.

Forget Russia was published in 2020 by Tailwinds Press.




New Textbook on Spanish for Health Care and Human Services Under Contract

Natalia Santamaria-LaordenAssociate Professor Natalia Santamaria Laorden will co-author a textbook, Spanish for Health Care and Human Services: An Interdisciplinary Approach, to be published by Cognella Publishing House. The book, coming out of her work with the Spanish for Health Care and Human Services certificate program, is designed to provide future generations of health care and human services professionals with both the language tools and the framework in humanities necessary to foster effective cross-cultural communications with Spanish speaking patients.


Dean P. Chen Discusses U.S. Strategic Ambiguity Policy on China and Taiwan

Dean ChenAssociate Professor of Political Science Dean P. Chen recently published an article in Pacific Focus and a commentary with international affairs magazine The National Interest about the United States’ “strategic ambiguity” policy in regard to Taiwan.In these papers, Chen argues that both the Trump and Biden administrations have bolstered U.S-Taiwan ties in order to counter Beijing’s growing belligerence in the Indo-Pacific region. However, how strongly Washington will strengthen its support for the island democracy will depend on whether the Biden administration decides to abandon America’s longstanding strategic ambiguity policy on the Taiwan Strait.



Emma Lucier-Keller ’19 publishes in the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies

Recent graduate Emma Lucier-Keller has been busy! Her timely article “Citizenship Reimagined Through the Narrative of Privileged Immigrants,” has been published in the Spring/Summer issue of the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies. The article began as a paper in her capstone seminar.

Emma was recently accepted into the Fall 2021 graduate program in Historical Preservation at the University of Maryland.



Banner: The United Nations, The History of Slavery, and reparations

Title: The United Nations, The History of Slavery, and Reparations
Date: April 7, 2021
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Where: WebEx Meeting link

Sponsored by Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honor Society, and the Schomburg Distinguished Scholar Program

Please join us for a presentation on the work being done to address the history and legacy of slavery by the United Nations. Our distinguished guest is Dr. Ahmed Reid, who is Member of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD) and Associate Professor of History at Bronx Community College (BCC-CUNY).

Dr. Reid is a scholar of slavery, emancipation, and gender in the Caribbean region. He is also a leading expert on Reparations for peoples of African ancestry who have origins in the Atlantic slave trade. Of particular note is his work at the United Nations. The WGEPAD’s mandate is to “study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the African diaspora” and to “make proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent.”

The Phi Alpha Theta Induction Ceremony invites our history students to join a Society with a great tradition of promoting global awareness, critical thought, and a love of history. This year we invite all members of the Ramapo community to participate.

Ramapo College Receives Unique Collection of Images Memorializing Historic Women

Noted author and photographer Penny Colman has donated her unique and  extensive collection of images of landmarks to historic women to the School of Humanities and  Global Studies at Ramapo College. Colman will discuss her work in a virtual event titled “Where  Are the Women?” on Thursday, March 25 at 6 p.m. To view the event, log on to

“The Penny Colman Collection of Women’s Historical Landmarks” was conceptualized 30 years  ago with simple questions: Where are the women? In particular, were women’s names and  deeds recognized, as were men’s, with statues, signs, plaques, roadside markers, memorials,  artwork, or on gravestones, except as a ‘wife’? 

“The School of Humanities and Global Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey is thrilled to  announce the donation of the Penny Colman Collection of Historical Landmarks to Women,”  said Ramapo Assistant Professor of History Sarah Koenig, who organized the event with  Ramapo Associate Professor of African American History David Colman and Cathy Moran Hajo,  director of the Jane Addams Papers Project at the College. “This one-of-a-kind collection of  photographs and research notes offers an invaluable window into how and why people in the  U.S. and abroad have chosen to memorialize particular figures in particular times and places. It  also offers a unique view into Colman’s own life and work, giving students a chance to walk in  the footsteps of an experienced researcher.”

The Penny Colman collection will also be digitized, said Koenig, who chairs the HGS Digital  Humanities Committee. “Once this rich archive is digitized, Ramapo students and faculty will be  able to use digital tools to expand the reach of the collection by making it fully searchable and  accessible to the public. We will also be able to add new ways of experiencing the archive  through data visualizations that highlight connections between particular people, organizations,  places, and monuments,” noting that Hajo will oversee the digitalization project.

Koenig added that as Americans continue to debate the meaning and value of historical  monuments across the nation, the Penny Colman Collection will allow Ramapo students and  faculty to contribute to these conversations through innovative research and hands-on  learning.

After many intentional road trips, Colman amassed an extensive collection of 35 mm slides, prints, and jpegs documenting landmarks for an A-to-Z list of women from economist and educator Edith Abbot to antislavery activist, Civil War scout and spy Harriet Tubman to premier athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Colman’s images have been reproduced in articles and books  and appear in her popular slide presentations, including “On the Trail of Suffrage Landmarks”  for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Her 2019 road trip through England and  Scotland, “In the Footsteps of Suffragettes,” is documented on her blog, Images also appear on Instagram @pennycolmancollection For more information, visit

Patricia Ard Named Co-Recipient of the 2021 Fred and Florence Thomases Faculty Award

Literature Professor Patricia Ard has been selected to be a co-recipient of the Thomases Award this year, along with Amanda Beecher. The Thomases Award recognizes significant and ongoing contributions to the development of the college. Congratulations to Patricia, who has been an outstanding teacher, colleague and scholar at Ramapo College since 1997. This will be her last year here, as she will be retiring in June. Please join us in celebrating her achievements.

The Award Ceremony will take place virtually on March 10 at 3PM.

Teaching High School AP History Using the Jane Addams Papers Digital Edition

With a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, Cathy Moran Hajo and the Jane Addams Papers Project will be working with a group of New Jersey high school  teachers to explore ways to use the Jane Addams Digital Edition in high school AP classes.

The award, Developing Digital Educational Modules for High School AP Courses, will support a series of virtual meetings between Addams Project staff, and a select group of high school teachers from around the state. This marks the project’s first collaboration with the Jane Addams-Hull-House Museum, as Michael Ramirez, the Education Manager at museum is participating in the project.

Two Ramapo College teacher-education students, Allie Cheff and Marina Kaiafas, will work with the teachers and Addams staff to develop primary-source-based educational materials that draw from the digital edition.

Jane Addams’s work during the Progressive Era and early 20th century was wide-ranging, and available topics range from her work in establishing social settlements, professionalizing social work, fighting against child labor and the persecution of immigrants and African-Americans, working to win support for woman suffrage, and her efforts for peace and social justice through the Woman’s Peace Party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Plans are to  hold a virtual symposium at the end of the grant to talk about what we learned and make publicly available to the materials on the project’s Education hub. The Project will also develop a guide for archives and other editing projects to help them create similar resources based on their holdings.Teachers invited to participate are from all over the state and have extensive teaching experience. They are: Staci Anson (Ramapo High School), Yvonne Beatrice (Mahwah High School, ret.), Katherine DeVillasanta (Clearville Regional High School), Joseph Dobis (Franklin High School), Joseph Dwyer (Nutley Public Schools), Angela Funk (Indian Hills High School), Keri Giannotti (Bloomfield High School), Scott Kercher (Sparta High School), Faye Johnson Brimm Medical Arts High School), Allison McCabe Matto (Red Bank Regional High School), Louis Moore (Red Bank Regional High School), Frank Romano, Jr. (Perth Amboy Public School), Robert Schulte (Neptune High School), and Patricia Yale (Hillsborough High Schoo).This grant builds on work that we did a few years back, also funded by the NJ Council for the Humanities, that developed National History Day guides and lesson plans using the digital edition for middle school students. Renee Delora, who led that effort, has joined this project to provide support to the student workers.

Lisa Williams Publishes Forget Russia

Literature professor Lisa Williams recently published a new novel, Forget Russia (Tailwinds Press, Dec. 2020), a story of love, murder, betrayal and revolution.

Forget Russia is about three generations of Russian-American Jews journeying back and forth, throughout the twentieth century, between America and Russia, searching for some kind of home and, of course, finding something altogether different. It is a tale of love, murder, abandonment, and betrayal. In 1980, Anna, an American college student journeys to the Soviet Union to confront her family’s past. As Anna dodges date rapists, KGB agents, and smooth-talking marketeers while navigating an alien culture for the first time, she must come to terms with the aspects of the past that haunt her own life. With its insight into the everyday rhythms of an almost forgotten way of life behind Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, Forget Russia is a disquieting multi-generational epic about coming of age, forgotten history, and the loss of innocence in all of its forms.

She also published the essays, “They Could Not Forget Russia,” in PB Daily on the Jewish Book Council Site, “What to Do When You Are Struggling to Finish a Manuscript,” in WordMothers, and an interview on the Lilith blog.

For more information, see


Natalia Santamaria Laorden a Finalist for the Language Innovation Award of the American Associastion of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of the Language Programs.


Natalia Santamaria-LaordenAssociate Professor of Spanish, Natalia Santamaria Laorden was named a finalist of the language innovation award in the racial and social justice category, put together by the American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of the Language programs. She is the founder of Ramapo College’s Spanish for Health Care and Human Services Professionals certificate program, which has been funded by US Department of Education since its inception in 2018. The certificate program expands the Spanish course offerings at different levels by joining efforts with faculty and staff in nursing, psychology and social work; it has also benefited local organizations like the Adler Aphasia Center and the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative and is currently in the process of nationalizing and internationalizing the efforts with aphasia centers and medical facilities nationwide, through Aphasia Access, as well as internationally in Cuzco (Peru) and Bilbao (Spain). The certificate has been very successful: the number of students doing the certificate and the minor has tripled the number of students doing the minor, before the certificate was created, causing a meaningful increase of Spanish language proficiency and cultural competence on campus among biology, pre-med and human services students.

Thanks to innovative changes in the curriculum, students from a wide range of disciplines are now exposed to historical cases like that of Willie Ramírez (1980) in which social and racial prejudices informed the malpractice and directed the diagnosis. Because of the funds received by the department of education to fund symposia, students were also exposed to the work of Dorothy Roberts, who acted as keynote speaker for the symposium and shared how antiquated racial concepts of disease still inform medical practices today.