Imagining Otherwise: Speculating New Forms of Graduate Education in Arts and Humanities

Nov 9, 2023 3:30-5:00pm Eastern

The Interseminars Imagining Otherwise experience was an eighteen-month collaboration across disciplines and difference that took place between 2022 and 2023. The project was sponsored and administered by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois, and funded by the Mellon Foundation. Immediately the project went beyond the resource- affordances of institutional space, time, money, and the charge to connect across areas of study through the theme “Speculation in the Americas.” The experience culminated in September 2023 with a two-day symposium with panels, installations and performances and a corresponding book release.

As a learning cohort, the participants decided early to see themselves—both conveners (faculty) and fellows (graduate students)–as mutual contributors or co-creators. Of course, that never means that every person brings the same thing to the table; rather it is an understanding that everything anyone brings is equally received as material for inquiry and expression. They started from the assumption that they all had some expertise and some gaps in knowledge and that these dynamic differences in the “room” would become a chance to mutually rethink their scholarly approaches, pedagogies, and creative works. They expected the time together to be both challenging and revealing in educative ways and that something new—albeit indeterminate—would come from it.

In this webinar, faculty and graduate student participants will share their experiences in this innovative program and some of the emergent implications for graduate education and interdisciplinary inquiry.


Registration to a2ru webinars is free for a2ru individual members and those affiliated with a2ru institutional and departmental members. Please use your institutional email to register.

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Kofi Bazzell-Smith is an artist, educator, and professional boxer, currently pursuing an MFA in New Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, specializes inJapanese manga, and creates works in English and Japanese. He actively travels to teach about manga, Japanese language, and cultural exchange, aiming to broaden the horizons of art education, challenging its current parochial focus on predominantly Western-European art forms, and fostering a more diverse and inclusive artistic landscape.



D. Nicole Campbell is a PhD student in the department of communication. She is a Texas native, who received her B.A. in English from the University of North Texas (2019) and M.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2021). As a scholar of rhetoric and public address, her research investigates U.S. prison discourses, including the prison abolition movement.




Josue David Cisneros, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, and affiliate faculty in Latina/o Studies and the Unit for Criticism, specializes in social movement communication and activist rhetorics, especially as they pertain to struggles for racial justice and immigrant rights. His focus on activist communication and social movement culture draws attention to the explicitly political and contestatory role of speculative and futurist work as a part of struggles for policy change and broader social transformation.



Daniela Morales Fredes is pursuing a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning; her areas of study include environmental and historic preservation and cultural heritage as a resource for community development.




Adanya Gilmore is pursuing an MFA in Dance. Her areas of study include the politics of gender and Black women, their relationships with each other, the body, and the world/other people.




Patrick Earl Hammie is an interdisciplinary visual artist, and Associate Professor and Chair of Studio Art in the School of Art & Design. Hammie specializes in portraiture, storytelling, and the body in visual culture. He examines personal and shared Black experiences, systems of knowledge production, and the politics of representation as a visual artist. His practice includes oil painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, illustration, and curation. He engages these topics through representation, abstraction, pastiche, and narrative, using techniques informed by critical theory and postcolonialism. As a Blerd (a Black nerd), he draws upon history, mythologies, music, and speculative fiction.


Beatriz Jiménez (she/ella), born and raised in Chicago, is a PhD Mexican American student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish at Knox College and then continued her graduate studies in Spanish Literatures and Cultures at the University of Illinois. She received her Master’s in 2021 and went on to pursue a PhD in the same field. Her current research interests are in Mexican and Latinx cinema and the representations of marginalized communities.



Jorge Lucero is an artist born, raised and mostly educated in Chicago. Two recent bookworks are Teacher as Artist-in-Residence: The Most Radical Form of Expression to Ever Exist (with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), and What Happens at the Intersection of Conceptual Art and Teaching? co-edited with Catalina Hernández-Cabal (through the Amsterdam University of the Arts). He received his degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Penn State University. Lucero was named the Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association in 2023. He currently serves as an Associate Professor in the School of Art & Design and as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Ray Martinez is pursuing his PhD in Spanish and Portuguese; his areas of study include Hispanic literature and culture.





Emerson Parker Pehl (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) (they/them) is a PhD student in literary studies through the department of English at the University of Illinois. They earned their Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Gender Studies from Mount Holyoke College, Master of Arts in Gender/Cultural Studies from Simmons College, and a dual MSW/MEd from Widener University in sex therapy. Their current cultural studies scholarship primarily focuses on Indigenous and Indigiqueer critiques of U.S. settler coloniality/colonialism and its logics. Their work has appeared in Transmotion, Gender Forum, Body Studies Journal, Transgender Health, and (soon, in 2024,) Transgender Studies Quarterly. Emerson is also a clinical sexologist and is a licensed social worker (LSW) in the state of Illinois.


Toyosi Tejumade-Morgan is a Ph.D. student and GTA at the Department of Theatre Arts, UIUC. Toyosi studied and taught theatre arts at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She specializes in Directing, Theatre Historiography, Documentary Theatre, and Performance Studies. Toyosi’s background in Journalism heavily informs her academic pursuits and interests around gender-based violence and the use of tactic media. Her works and publications include Banking Hall of Gomorrah, Trucks or Driver, Who is Guilty? I Won’t Mind My Business, Black Hair, and Casting Trends in Nigerian Theatre. 2019 Toyosi founded “Theatre Maniacs” and adopts a mix of African Total Theatre with Western aesthetics for community advocacy.