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Faculty and Staff

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Temple University, PhD (English w/rhetoric-composition focus)
Franklin and Marshall College, BA (English and Government)
GSWS and Department of Writing Studies

Expertise Areas: feminist rhetorics and theory; feminist methodologies, especially ethnography; medical rhetoric and narrative medicine; composition pedagogy and theory; new writing teacher preparation; community-based and activist writing; political theory of Hannah Arendt
Biography: I am Associate Professor of Writing Studies and Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Montclair State. I am the author of First Semester: Graduate Students, Teaching Writing, and the Challenge of Middle Ground (Southern Illinois University Press/NCTE 2012); co-editor with Laurie Cella of Unsustainable: Re-imagining Community Literacy, Public Writing, Service-Learning, and the University (Lexington 2012); and author of Surrender: Feminist Rhetoric and Ethics in Love and Illness (Southern Illinois University Press forthcoming 2019).


Tamicha Adams is the program assistant for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from Kean University. Additionally, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Montclair State University. With over a decade of experience in higher education administration, her areas of interest include counseling, academic/career advising, higher education, and crisis intervention.

GSWS Teaching Faculty

Photo of Andrea Dini

Andrea Dini

241 F Schmitt Hall (For office hours, please send me an email.)

University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD (Italian Literature, Second Language Acquisition)
Università di Firenze, Italy (Italian Literature)
GSWS and Modern Languages and Literatures

Expertise Areas: language pedagogy; Medieval and 20th-century Italian literature (with emphasis on Fascist/Resistance Literature and GLBTQ issues); comparative literature (Italian/American/English); GLBTQ American literature and musical theater.
Biography: I am Associate Professor of Italian and Coordinator of the GLBTQ Studies Minor at Montclair State. I have co-authored with Graziana Lazzarino several editions of Prego! An Introduction to Italian (and authored its Workbook/Lab) (McGrawHill 2000, 2004, 2007, 2011). I am the author of Il Premio Nazionale Riccione e Italo Calvino (Ponte Vecchio, 2007); co-editor with Fabian Alfie of Accessus Ad Auctores ((Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2012) and with Chris Kleinhenz of Teaching Petrarch and the Petrarchan Tradition (Modern Language Association, 2014).

Fawzia Afzal-Khan is Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar at Montclair State University. Afzal-Khan received her BA from Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan, and her MA and PhD in English Literature from Tufts University, MA. She is a cultural materialist who works at the intersection of feminist theory, cultural and performance studies and postcolonial studies.

She is the author of five books, her latest a controversial memoir entitled Lahore With Love; Growing Up With Girlfriends Pakistani-Style (Syracuse University Press 2010; rep Insanity Ink 2010; can be ordered here). She is a frequent contributor to Counterpunch and Express Tribune, and a published poet and playwright. She is a Contributing Editor to TDR (The Drama Review) and serves on the Advisory Board of SAR (the South Asian Review).

She is also a trained vocalist in the North Indian Classical tradition. Her music videos exploring themes of gender, religion and class, set in Pakistan, can be viewed on youtube (FAK Lahore, FAK Payal, FAK Smokescreen, FAK Sacrifice). She was a founding member of the experimental theatre collective Compagnie Faim de Siecle, with whom she toured and performed in Europe and North America.

Her current research work is focused on Pakistani popular culture.

Dr. Yasemin Besen-Cassino is Professor of Sociology at Montclair State University. She received her PhD in Sociology from SUNY Stony Brook. Her research focuses on work, gender and youth with a global comparative perspective. Her work has appeared in prestigious journals such as Contexts, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, National Women’s Studies Association Journal and Theory and Society.

Supported by grants from the W.E. Upjohn Foundation and the American Association of University Women, her work on the gender wage gap in the teenage labor market has received numerous paper awards including the James Prothro Award. Her books include The Jessie Bernard Reader (with Michael Kimmel) on the life and the works of the prominent feminist, and Consuming Work: Youth Labor in America, and Social Research Methods By Example (with Dan Cassino).

Caroline Dadas, associate professor and Director of First Year Writing, received a PhD in rhetoric and composition from Miami University. Her research interests include digital rhetorics, public sphere theory, professional writing, queer rhetorics, and civic participation. She teaches courses on rhetorical theory, digital writing, research methods, technical writing, and queer studies. She is the author of articles published in venues such as College Composition and Communication, Computers and Writing, New Media and Society, Composition Forum, Literacy in Composition Studies, and Computers and Composition Online. She is co-editor of the 2018 collection, Re/Orienting Writing Studies: Queer Methods, Queer Projects..Biography
Dr. Danné E. Davis holds degrees from Northeastern University (BS), Wheelock College (MS), and Boston College (PhD) all in Massachusetts. Her research interests center on multicultural education, the arts, and teacher education. Presently she is involved in increasing elementary teacher candidates’ responsiveness to LGBT/Q diversity. In particular, Dr. Davis is exploring the role of LGBT/Q children’s picture storybooks to foster awareness as well as meet expected academic outcomes. Among awards received, Dr. Davis is the 2013 Montclair State University LGBT Center’s Faculty/Staff LGBTQ Ally of the Year and 2012 Distinguished Faculty, Excellence in Teacher Preparation award given by NJ’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the NJ Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Danne is also active with GLSEN-Northern NJ.
Photo of Denell Downum

Denell Downum

205M Schmitt Hall
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 1-2:30 p.m. and by appointment

Graduate Center of the City University of New York, PhD (English Literature)
Carleton College, BA (English)
GSWS and Writing Studies

Expertise Areas: Irish literature, modernist literature, feminist literary theory, composition pedagogy
Biography: I am an Instructional Specialist in the Writing Studies Department. My scholarship focuses on Irish literature, with particular attention to how the country’s past and its rich vernacular tradition in the Irish language help to shape Ireland’s literature today. My articles have appeared in scholarly journals including Eire-Ireland, the New Hibernia Review, and the Irish University Review. My interest in feminist literary theory led me to the field of gender studies, and to the broader goal of working with students to better “read” and understand the impact of gender in our daily lives.

Research/Inte‌rests: Research interests include health, gender, inequality and structure violence. She has published in the prestigious journal Current Anthropology and has a chapter on the structural violence and gender- in The Archaeology of Gender and Violence.University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, PhD program (Media & Cultural Studies)
Duke University, MA (Liberal & Women’s Studies)
Temple University, MA, BA (Mass Media & Communications)
Programs: GSWS /Family & Child Studies – Montclair State University

Expertise Areas: My work addresses feminist media criticism, queer and cultural studies, and television history.
Research interests include: virtual communities, female fandom and cyberfeminism. I am a recipient of both a Fellowship in Engaged Teaching and Pedagogy and a Faculty Fellows Award for Service Learning. A cast member of The Vagina Monologues at Montclair State, most recently, I have founded and produced The #Metoo Monologues at Montclair State, a campus-wide performance project addressing all issues of intersectionality and identity.
Courses Taught at Montclair State University:
GSWS 102: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
GSWS 302: Selected Topics in WMGS: Gender and Popular Culture
GSWS 201: Inventing Feminism
GSWS 102: Service Learning in WMGS
FCST: Issues of Contemporary Women

BA: University of Michigan, MA: San Francisco State University, PhD: University of California at Berkeley

I am interested in the ways in which the purposes of public education intersect with notions of democracy and social justice, how school/university partnerships work to provide the ethical and effective teachers to public schools, and how the nexus of mindfulness and teacher education can help navigate unchartered waters of the current high-stakes testing climate. As the coordinator of the Agenda for Education in a Democracy, I try to include many teachers and university faculty members in ongoing professional development for school renewal and change.

BA: Reed College, PhD: Rutgers University

I am an associate professor of early modern European history and Women’s Studies at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. I received my PhD in History from Rutgers University (2001), and my BA from Reed College (1993).

My recent research has focused on reconstructing the impact early modern relations between France and the Ottoman Empire had upon eighteenth-century French culture and identity formation. Today’s strained relationship between the civilizations of Islam and the West demonstrates a profound need to better understand the ties which have historically bound these two worlds. Using diplomatic records, travel and literary works, and popular engravings, my work of the past ten years examines how conflicting French images of the Turks and the Ottoman Empire were employed in the creation of individual and national identities within Old Regime France between the 1660s and the 1780s.

I have published five essays on eighteenth-century turquerie and one essay on Sophie Germain, a Napoleonic-era French mathematician.

New York University, PhD (Women and the Representation of Childhood in Latin America Literature)
Queens College, MA
Queens College, BA
GSWS and Spanish and Latino Studies

Expertise areas:  Latin America
Biography: I am an associate professor of Spanish and Latino Studies at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey.

BA: Barnard College, Columbia University, MA: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, PhD: The Graduate Center, CUNY

Professor Venezia Michalsen is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University. Dr. Michalsen’s research interests focus on gender and the American correctional system. She came to Montclair State University after working at the Women’s Prison Association, the nation’s oldest organization serving women with criminal justice system involvement. Dr. Michalsen teaches courses cross-listed with the Women’s and Gender Studies program, including “Gender and Crime” and the very popular “Human Trafficking.”

Temple University, PhD (Renaissance drama)
Virginia Tech, MA (English)
Jadavpur University (India), MA (English)
Jadavpur University (India), BA (English)
GSWS and Department of Writing Studies

Expertise Areas: Shakespeare; Renaissance drama; metatheater; tragedy; composition; pedagogy; mythology and folklore; speculative fiction
Biography: I am an Instructional Specialist in Writing Studies and in the First-Year Writing Program. I have wide-ranging interests and teaching experience, but my courses are invariably concerned about issues of performance, power, audience and gender. I have taught and published in both India and the USA, with my work most recently appearing in The Palgrave Anthology of Shakespeare’s Queens.

University of Arizona, PhD Language, Reading, and Culture
City College of NY, MEd Language and Literacy
University of Pennsylvania, BA, Italian Studies & French
GSWS and Secondary and Special Education

Expertise Areas: Self-study, co/autoethnography, teaching for social justice, feminist pedagogy, LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching, embodied learning and teaching, theater of the oppressed, urban teacher education, teacher leadership, parent activism, progressive schooling
Biography: Monica Taylor is a feminist teacher educator, social justice advocate and parent activist. She is a professor in the Department of Secondary and Special Education at Montclair State University. She has several publications on feminist pedagogy and research methodologies, teaching for social justice, teacher leadership, and urban teacher education. She is co-PI of the Wipro Science Education Fellows grant which supports science teacher leaders in five districts in New Jersey. Her most recent book, Playhouse: Optimistic stories of real hope for families with little children, describes a progressive parent cooperative school through the interwoven narratives of her own children and those of families for the last sixty years. Her commitments to fighting sexism, heteronormativity and racism manifest in all aspects of her life. She advocates for her own children and New Jersey students as an organizer for Save Our Schools NJ. She also deeply values the work of the many teachers with whom she is in contact.

Texas Southern University, PhD (Administration of Justice)
New Jersey City University, MS, BS (Criminal Justice)
GSWS and Justice Studies

Expertise Areas: Black Feminist Criminology, Critical Criminology, Black Lives
Biography: Dr. Williams is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University, and he is an affiliated faculty with GSWS. He recently co-authored and edited Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Criminal Justice System. Moreover, his current research projects involve investigating the perceptions and experiences of African American community members with police in Ferguson MO, Baltimore MD, and Newark NJ. He has published several peer-reviewed pieces concerning topics under his expertise, and he has won The New Scholar Award from the Division on People of Color and Crime of the American Society of Criminology. He is a devout urban ethnographer and critical researcher. He believes in setting a transformative classroom experience, and; therefore, embraces critical pedagogy as a teaching strategy.