Engaging the past, defining the future
New faculty in medieval and early modern studies
The mission of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) is to enable and promote the most expansive, creative, and daring scholarship in medieval and Renaissance studies. To meet the university goals of a diverse faculty who will offer historically grounded and theoretically expansive opportunities for students, ASU recruited five new faculty to the Department of English’s literature program; the faculty are also affiliates and / or administrators of ACMRS.
Brandi Adams, Assistant Professor
Before moving to Arizona, Brandi Adams worked at MIT as an undergraduate program manager for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “I am originally from Reisterstown, Maryland,” she explained. “Right before moving to Phoenix, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and before that in Washington DC.” Adams received her PhD in English literature from the University of Maryland and undergraduate degrees in English literature and classical studies from Randolph Macon College. Her areas of interest include early modern English drama, book history, bibliography, and premodern critical race studies.
When asked what Adams enjoys most about working for ASU’s English department, she said: the students. “I think that the undergraduate students are brilliant—they are outstanding writers and readers. Every one of my students in ENG 206 impressed me with their ability to work with material that they hadn’t ever read before and write such marvelous, insightful papers!” Adams continued: “I also like the community of faculty and staff. I am really impressed with how the English Department and ASU is making literature so challenging and fun for so many students.” Adams likes taking her puppy Barnabe for walks and enjoys watching Korean Dramas and baseball games in her spare time. She is also an amateur photographer. Adams is excited for her future projects: “Professor Jonathan Hope and I are going to be editing Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor for Cambridge Shakespeare Editions. I am so honored to be able to work with him on this project. I am also starting to work on my first book, Representations of Books and Readers in Early Modern English Drama, but the title may change.”
Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, Assistant Professor
“I am a native Chicagoan and I have spent most of my life in the Midwest,” said Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, another new ACMRS faculty affiliate. “I am absolutely loving Arizona—the mountains, the trails, the sunsets, and the people, especially the students.” Before coming to ASU, Barksdale-Shaw worked at James Madison College, a residential college at Michigan State University in East Lansing. She has a juris doctorate from The University of Michigan Law School and a doctoral degree in English literature and language from Michigan State University. “I have been enjoying the wealth of resources here in the English department,” Barksdale-Shaw explained, “including the tremendous variety of courses and working in a team-friendly environment for both semesters. Not only have I learned from the generosity of my new colleagues, but the students as well.”
When not working, Barksdale-Shaw enjoys exploring the different trails in Arizona from South Mountain and Sedona to the Grand Canyon. She also looks forward to spending time with her family: “Annually, until 2019, our family has maintained a tradition of honoring our heritage and celebrating its progeny. I think acknowledging both spaces—the past and the future—serve us well with these jubilant end of summer reminders.” Barksdale-Shaw is currently working on a monograph of written evidence, and has an upcoming article publication this year on racial trauma in Othello in a special issue of Shakespeare Survey.
Ruben Espinosa, Associate Professor and Associate Director of ACMRS
Originally from Texas and the University of Texas at El Paso, Ruben Espinosa was ready for a change and he found the perfect fit at ASU. “I often find myself in disbelief that I actually get paid for what I do. I love literature, and I love to think with, about, and through literature,” he said. “I also feel fortunate that I get to work alongside people who offer unique insights into literature and culture. We have an unbelievably talented faculty in the English department, and I’m very excited about the powerhouse we are building here at ASU.”
Espinosa earned his PhD in English literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he focused on Shakespeare studies and approaching Shakespeare’s works through a critical race studies lens. “I am also very proud of the work we are doing at ACMRS and our RaceB4Race initiative in particular. I work with a stellar group of people.” Espinosa has been getting acquainted with the Arizona heat and enjoys time outdoors with his young kids, especially now that he has his own swimming pool for the first time. “When we have family gatherings for birthdays, quinceañeras, weddings, holidays, etc., it is the entire family (nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, everyone).” Espinosa smiled. “It is chaos, but it is also a lot of fun. Missing out on these gatherings was one of the hardest aspects of the pandemic, but I am eager to return to the days when we can return to these large family gatherings and share in food, drink, music, and laughter.”
Last summer, Espinosa published his book, Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism, and is currently working on his next monograph, Shakespeare on the Border: Language, Legitimacy, and La Frontera.
Mariam Galarrita, Postdoctoral Fellow
Mariam Galarrita moved to Arizona from California after completing her doctorate. “I received my BA and MA both in English at CSU Fullerton, and my PhD at UC Riverside in English,” she said. “I’m interested in travel drama and literature because of the ways in which they reflect imagination when contact didn’t necessarily manifest from encounter. Additionally, I’m interested in CRT and racemaking during the early modern period.”
Galarrita thinks Arizona is a lovely state and enjoys the liveliness of Tempe. She is also excited to be working for ASU’s Department of English. “I like the infinite potential for collaboration, and the overall energy of innovation. This was most apparent to me during meetings over the graduate program. I also appreciate the advocacy faculty have for their students.” In her downtime, Galarrita enjoys baking Filipino desserts and learning the history behind the desserts. She also has very exciting news: she is a new mother to a baby girl born in February 2022. Resounding congratulations to Galarrita and her new bundle of joy!
Madeline Sayet, Clinical Assistant Professor
Before coming to ASU, Madeline Sayet was a freelance theater director and writer serving as the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. She is a citizen of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut and was raised there on traditional lands. “I love where I’m from, but it's so wonderful how present Native people are everywhere in Arizona compared to back home.” Sayet received a BFA in drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, an MA in arts politics and postcolonial Theory from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and an MA in Shakespeare and creativity from the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham (UK). “My area of expertise is in theater, both in contemporary Native drama, and in re-imagining western classics.”
Sayet has traditions that she enjoys participating in: “I love going to our wigwam festival every year at Mohegan, which is our annual powwow. I get to see all my relatives together and think about our ancestors, and what we are passing down to the youth.” Sayet continued: “I also love our traditional stories and foods and how we pass them down. So much of my work as a theatre maker is about how we bridge traditional and contemporary storytelling methods. My great aunts and uncles founded the Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum, the oldest Native owned and operated museum in the country, so I grew up with an awareness of what we carry and protect there, and also the importance of sharing our stories with people through our own voices.”
When asked about what she likes about the Department of English at ASU, Sayet pointed to its people. “I love how my colleagues here really support bringing exciting interdisciplinary frameworks to the students,” she said, “and that for the first time ever I am not the only Native person in my department, which lets us build and innovate so much more.” Sayet is currently touring on her solo show, Where We Belong. “It's about the relationship between Shakespeare, my indigenous language, and colonialism, and it's been so interesting to hear all of the stories other people share with me, after they hear mine.”
Image 1: Courtesy photo of Brandi Adams
Image 2: Courtesy photo of Lisa Barksdale-Shaw
Image 3: Courtesy photo of Ruben Espinosa
Image 4: Courtesy photo of Mariam Galarrita
Image 5: Photo of Madeline Sayet by Bret Hartman