The College of Arts and Letters would like to welcome its newest faculty members. These eleven talented scholars will begin teaching at the start of the 2018/2019 academic year.
Meet our newest faculty members who make the College of Arts & Letters a great place
Department of European Studies, Italian and French
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2017
Cecilia Benaglia received her Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature from Johns Hopkins University. She comes to San Diego State University from McGill University, where she was an A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the French Department. Her research interests and areas include 20th century French and Italian literature, the transnational circulation of literary works and notions, sociology of literature and translation studies. Her work has been published in several journals including Modern Language Notes, COnTEXTES, and Tangence (forthcoming). Her first book (Classiques Garnier, forthcoming 2019) explores the relation between politics and literary production in France and Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on the writers Claude Simon and Carlo Emilio Gadda.
Danielle S. Bennett
Department of Classics and Humanities - The Friends of Classics and Barbara Schuch Endowed Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics and Digital Humanities
Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 2017
Dr. Danielle Smotherman Bennett received her B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Art History and Archaeology in 2009 and completed her M.A. (2011) and Ph.D. (2017) in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. During the 2014-2015 academic year, Danielle was in residence at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) as an Associate Member, and she returned to Greece in 2016 to act as the Field Director at the ASCSA excavations in Corinth under Guy Sanders. Danielle has also excavated in England (West Halton), Italy (Vacone), and Turkey (Tarsus-Gözlükule).
Dr. Bennett's research focuses on multiple aspects of the ancient world, including Greek vase-painting and Greek archaeology, trade in the ancient Mediterranean, and digital approaches to the study of the ancient world. Within the digital humanities, Dr. Bennett is involved in the use of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), photogrammetry, and x-ray diffraction (XRD) on the study of ancient objects. Much of her research examines the role of women in the ancient world and an interdisciplinary approach to ancient objects.
Timothy C. Brown
Department of Sociology
Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 2010
Timothy C. Brown received his Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology from Louisiana State University in 2010. He comes to San Diego State University from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he served as an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice. His research focuses on the impacts of changing economic landscapes on the social fabric of communities, specifically involvement or desistance in deviant groups such as youth gangs. His research seeks to explain how community structure conditions social relations among local residents and criminal networks, which in turn can have positive social implications, particularly an increased ability for communities to ameliorate social dislocations via informal social control. Tim is currently a member of an on-going research team examining escalating youth gang violence in a rural community in the Southern U.S., which was supported by a Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant. He currently serves on the editorial boards for Deviant Behavior and American Journal of Criminal Justice. Dr. Brown has published his work in Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Journal of Criminal Justice, Deviant Behavior, Homicide Studies, American Journal of Criminal Justice, and The Social Science Journal, among others. His research and teaching interests include sub-cultures and crime, rural crime, social deviance, and criminological theory.
Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien
Department of Political Science
Ph.D, University of Washington, 2014
Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and a Master’s from the University of Victoria before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 2014. Dr. Gonzalez O’Brien’s main area of research is racial and ethnic politics, with a focus on U.S. immigration policy. He is the author of Handcuffs and Chain Link: Criminalizing the Undocumented in America, which examines the historical criminalization of Latino immigration and how legislation passed in the 1920s continues to have repercussions for modern immigration policy. His second book Sanctuary Cities: The Politics of Refuge charts the development and effect of sanctuary city policies, which forbid local officials from inquiring into immigration status, as well as public opinion, media coverage, and the politics of these policies (forthcoming, Oxford University Press). His other research includes inter-group attitudes and the effect of changes in electoral policies on political participation. He is beginning a project on the role of religious institutions in resistance to restrictive immigration policies and plans to expand his research on criminalization to cover the 18th and 19th centuries.
Department of Africana Studies
Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2018
Sureshi M. Jayawardene is an Africana social scientist specializing in the western Indian Ocean African diaspora. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies from Northwestern University. Jayawardene holds an M.A. in African American Studies also from Northwestern, an M.A. in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University, and a B.A. in Global Studies and Women’s Studies from Concordia College. Her research and teaching interests include Africana geographies and epistemologies, diaspora, memory, expressive cultures, spirituality, Africana families and kinship formations, Black digital humanities, and research methods. She is currently working on a book combining ethnography, interviews, archival research, and content analyses with theories of diaspora, Pan-Africanism, Black Geographies, and Africana aesthetics to culturally situate her investigation into conceptions of selfhood and community among people of African descent in Sri Lanka. Her publications about South Asian Africana communities have appeared in the Journal of Black Studies and the Journal of African American Studies. Jayawardene is also a co-founder and currently co-directs the Afrometrics Research Institute.
Yang Liang is an applied economist specializing in international trade and labor economics. His current research focuses on the impact of trade expansion on US labor markets, as well as the effect of China’s foreign direct investment policies on trade flows and entry mode. His recent co-authored policy brief on Trump’s China Tariffs was featured in Bloomberg, the Economist, NYTimes, and so on. Liang received his Ph.D. and M.A. in economics at Syracuse University.
Andrew M. McClellan
Department of Classics and Humanities - Stepsay Family Endowed Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics
Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 2016
Dr. Andrew M. McClellan (Ph.D., University of British Columbia) comes to San Diego State University from Florida State University, where he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics from 2016-2018. Dr. McClellan's research explores the intersections of war, violence, and death in Greco-Roman epic poetry and society. He combines literary analysis with rigorous philological examination, and his work is informed by a broad cross-cultural appreciation of these themes in Western culture. While his research focuses broadly on epic poetry from Homer to the epics of the early Roman imperial period, the post-Augustan Latin epics have occupied most of his time recently. Dr. McClellan is putting the finishing touches on a monograph that examines the (mis)treatment of corpses in Latin epic poetry (Abused Bodies in Roman Epic), a project that expands upon his PhD thesis. In addition, he's published articles and reviews on Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, Statius' Thebaid, and Silius Italicus' Punica, and has book chapters forthcoming on Lucan's Civil War and on Classical "zombies" in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Esme G. Murdock received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Michigan State University in 2016. Her areas of specialization include environmental philosophy and environmental ethics and social and political philosophy with particular interest in environmental justice, philosophies of race and gender, and settler colonial theory. Her research explores the intersections of social/political relations and environmental health, integrity, and agency. Specifically, her work troubles the purported stability of dominant, largely euro-descendent, and settler-colonial philosophies through centering conceptions of land and relating to land found within African American, Afro-Diasporic, and Indigenous eco-philosophies. She has work appearing in Environmental Values and the Journal of Global Ethics.
Department of Rhetoric & Writing Studies College of Arts & Letters
Ph.D., Michigan Technological University, 2003
Jennifer Sheppard earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University in 2003. Her research and teaching focuses on the intersection of theory and practice in digital writing, multimodal communication, visual rhetoric, and technical/professional communication. Her work has appeared in Computers and Composition, the Journal of Literacy and Technology, Hybrid Pedagogy, and several edited collections, including Designing Texts: Teaching Visual Communication and RAW: Reading and Writing New Media. She is also co-author, with Cheryl Ball and Kristin Arola, of Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, (2nd ed.) published by Bedford/St. Martin’s in 2018.
Department of Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2012
Dris Soulaimani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages. He received a PhD in Applied Linguistics from UCLA and a Master’s in Linguistics from Wayne State University. His research interests include discourse analysis, language ideologies, and language pedagogy. Dr. Soulaimani focuses on the sociolinguistic characteristics of Arabic and Amazigh/ Berber languages and the role language plays as a multimodal complex, which encompasses both structure and other social and semiotic resources. His recent publications include “Embodiment in Moroccan Arabic storytelling: Language, stance and discourse analysis (2017, Text & Talk), “Talk, voice, and gestures in reported speech: Towards an integrated approach” (2018, Discourse Studies), and “Writing in Arabic: Discourse analysis and pedagogical reflections” (2018, The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Second Language Acquisition).
Department of Economics
Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2018
Hao Teng received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and her PhD from the University of Rochester. Her research combines econometric models with emerging big data sources, such as Yelp restaurant reviews, to create novel causal inference approaches. Her areas of interest include child development, education policy, the economics of crime, social networks, and health economics. Her recent project implements a newly developed identification strategy to estimate the effect of children’s time allocation on their skill formation. She is currently investigating the causal impact of social network friendship on consumer behavior utilizing a state-of-the-art machine learning technique.