Our Stories

How the liberal arts instilled curiosity, boldness, and fearlessness in a history and Japanese student — and carried her from USA Today to Hollywood red carpets

Carrie Gates

For Arienne Thompson Plourde ’04, the first step toward a successful journalism career was to study history and Japanese. Although it might seem an unlikely combination for an aspiring journalist, it gave her a strong foundation to build on — and just as importantly, four years to study what she loved. “For me, I always knew that I wanted to be...

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American studies professor wins Frederick Douglass Book Prize — the seventh book award for her research on slaves’ courtroom testimony

Carrie Gates

Sophie White, a professor in the Department of American Studies, has won the prestigious 2020 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her work, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana. The prize, sponsored by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, recognizes the best...

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Race and ragtime, gender and genre: Exploring the unexamined history of the American piano

Carrie Gates

For Rebecca McKenna, the piano’s history is about much more than just manufacturing or marketing — it’s about issues of race, class, and gender at the turn of the 20th century. McKenna, an assistant professor in the Department of History, is exploring all of these issues with support from a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.

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Scholars of Spanish and Italian culture and literature join Arts and Letters faculty

Carrie Gates

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures has added expertise in modern Spanish and Italian culture and literature this year with two new faculty hires — Pedro Aguilera-Mellado and Charles Leavitt IV. Aguilera-Mellado, who comes to Notre Dame from the University of Michigan, focuses on modern and contemporary Spain. Leavitt, who received a Ph.D. from Notre Dame in 2010, returns to...

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Spanish professor wins book prize for her work on Latin American female travel writers

Carrie Gates

Vanesa Miseres, an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, has won a prize from the International Institute of Latin American Literature for her book Mujeres en tránsito: viaje, identidad y escritura en Sudamérica. Mujeres en tránsito examines four prominent female writers who traveled to and from Latin America in the 19th century — Flora Tristan, Juana...

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Irish studies and English professor Barry McCrea awarded Princeton Humanities Council fellowship

Carrie Gates

One of the things that drives novelists, McCrea said, is the desire to narrate their own generation. He sees his generation — in Europe and in the U.S. — as “a kind of forgotten middle child,” squeezed between the baby boomers and the millennials. “I wanted to tell the story of my generation, connected to the traditional, often rural life of our parents...

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Romance Languages and Literatures chair strives to bring literary and cultural context to American understanding of Cuba

Carrie Gates

Thomas Anderson, a professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, has written two books on Cuban literature and culture and has published an edited volume of a leading Cuban author’s letters. Currently, he is working on a book that focuses on images of the U.S. civil rights movement in Cuban poetry.

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Studying youth participation in Colombia’s peace-building movements

Carrie Gates

The young people of war-torn northern Colombia want their homes and their lifestyle back. Displaced from their villages by guerilla and paramilitary groups, they have spent the last 10 years in urban centers—making them prime targets for recruitment by those same criminal enterprises. But rather than falling prey to a violent cause, they’ve founded a successful peace-building movement. Notre Dame...

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Psychology graduate student examines link between mental health and marriage satisfaction

Carrie Gates

For married couples, the odds aren’t good when one partner has anxiety or depression. The presence of such a mental issue significantly increases the risk that the couple will get divorced. Notre Dame psychology Ph.D. student Judith Biesen wants to find a way to improve the outcomes for those couples. With an American Dream grant from the Institute for Scholarship...

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Senior art history major Meg Burns awarded Luce Scholarship

Carrie Gates

Notre Dame senior Margaret “Meg” Burns, an art history major from San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a 2021–22 Luce Scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia, with a goal of enhancing the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American society. Burns is Notre Dame’s 10th Luce Scholar in total and its third...

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Social design professor receives grant to mitigate youth violence in South Bend through access to arts programming and community engagement

Carrie Gates

Neeta Verma’s teaching and research examines a range of social inequities facing the local community — including homelessness, poverty, and the digital divide. But the issue she finds most pressing is youth violence — and she believes that art and design can play a key role in breaking its vicious cycle. With a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, she is launching a...

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Through research and teaching, Notre Dame historian and gender studies scholar-in-residence explores how archives shape narratives

Carrie Gates

What Karen Graubart didn’t find in archives in Spain and Peru was, in some ways, as valuable as what she did. An associate professor in the Department of History, Graubart has spent more than 15 years conducting archival research on women and non-dominant communities in the Iberian Empire for her first two books. But she is also considering how the archives themselves...

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‘Ways of seeing and changing the world’: Gender Studies Program marks 30 years

Carrie Gates

Three decades after its founding, the Gender Studies Program is thriving, with more than 70 students currently pursuing gender studies majors, supplementary majors, and minors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as more than 50 associated faculty across campus. Hundreds of students have found a home in the program over the years — including Sarah A. Mustillo ’96, the...

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Social design course challenges students from Notre Dame and India to use creativity to tackle a global problem

Carrie Gates

When Kacey Hengesbach began her undergraduate career at Notre Dame, she didn’t imagine that it would include traveling 8,000 miles to Ahmedabad, India. But thanks to a new course created by Neeta Verma, she had the chance to spend three weeks there last summer, working collaboratively with students from India’s National Institute of Design. 

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Notre Dame economists help small business owners in Kenya find success

Carrie Gates

In a dense Nairobi slum best known for its toxic garbage dump, the crowded streets are lined with roadside stands. With no job prospects, residents’ best chance to eke out a living comes from selling foods and handcrafted goods at these tiny stalls. Three assistant professors in Notre Dame’s Department of Economics—Wyatt Brooks, Kevin Donovan, and Terence Johnson—are researching ways...

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FTT course on nonfiction graphic novels inspires visual storytelling by students

Carrie Gates

  After adapting his award-winning documentary On the Bridge into a graphic novel that both portrayed stories of veterans and offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Olivier Morel’s emotions and struggles as he interviewed them, the FTT assistant professor was inspired to create an undergraduate course. In Graphic Wounds, Graphic Novels, in-depth readings and discussions with some of the genre’s leading...

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Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne receives National Academy of Sciences recognition, National Science Foundation funding for her research on sleep, stress, and memory

Carrie Gates

Psychologist Jessica Payne is passionate about helping the world better understand the value of sleep — and the many ways it impacts our cognition, health, and longevity. She dreams of a society where people no longer take pride in how little sleep they need to get by, but how much they sleep in order to thrive. Her groundbreaking research on sleep, stress, and...

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Francie Shaft thought her theology and Japanese majors would never intersect — until she went abroad. Now the connections keep appearing. 

Carrie Gates

Francie Shaft has discovered intersections between her theology and Japanese majors through her classes and research — both on campus and in Japan. Those opportunities would not have been possible, she said, without the support she found at Notre Dame. “Notre Dame wants you to start pursuing what you’re passionate about, even as a freshman. If I didn’t have these people...

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Through video and book projects, French professor explores why global women writers are gravitating toward Paris

Carrie Gates

Alison Rice, an associate professor of French and Francophone studies, conducted 18 filmed interviews in Paris over eight years with authors originally from Iran, Korea, Senegal, and Bulgaria, among other countries. She compiled, edited, and translated the interviews to create an online archive, accessible to scholars and students worldwide, and is now completing a book project based on the interviews.

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Quesada and Robles strengthen Department of English’s expertise in global and multicultural literature

Carrie Gates

Sarah Quesada's research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st century Latinx and Latin American literatures, Francophone West African literature, decolonial and spatial theory, and heritage tourism of the African diaspora. Francisco Robles focuses on multiethnic American literature of the 20th century, particularly African American, Chicanx, Southwestern, postcolonial, and LGBTQ literature. Both have close ties to Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies. ...

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Graduate student travels to Nepal to design and construct housing for earthquake victims

Carrie Gates

Kevin Phaup, who is pursuing a master’s degree in industrial design, went to Nepal last summer to conduct research for his thesis project—designing stronger, safer, cost-effective temporary shelters for refugees and victims of natural disasters. While there, he worked with Hope for Nepal, an organization co-founded by Assistant Professor Ann-Marie Conrado, to construct temporary shelters, permanent homes, and schools after...

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