This fall, seven Swarthmore faculty members begin tenure-track appointments across the disciplines, while two others embark on one-year distinguished faculty appointments.
Faculty member receiving tenured appointment:
Associate Professor of English Literature and Director of the Creative Writing Program Chinelo Okparanta
Okparanta is the author of the short-story collection Happiness, Like Water and two novels, Under the Udala Trees and the forthcoming Harry Sylvester Bird, due out in July 2022. Okparanta is the winner of two Lambda Literary Awards and an O. Henry Prize. Other honors include finalist selections for the International DUBLIN Literary Award, the Caine Prize for African Writing, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in Literature, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. She has also been nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and an NAACP Image Award in Fiction. In 2017, she was included on Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists list and named a Great Immigrant, Great American by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
In 2018, Okparanta served as a fiction judge for the U.S. National Book Awards. She has also served on the judging panels for other major awards such as the PEN Open Book Awards and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. Previously, she taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Colgate University, Columbia University, Purdue University, Howard University, City College of New York, Bucknell University, and the University of Houston. Her teaching and writing interests include the short story and the novel as they pertain to the politics of place and race, ethnicity and multicultural identity, gender and sexuality, and more.
Faculty members receiving tenure-track appointments:
Assistant Professor of Sociology & Anthropology Alejandra Azuero-Quijano
Working at the intersection of law and anthropology, Azuero-Quijano describes her research as examining the role of legal knowledge in Latin America. Azuero-Quijano holds a doctor of juridical science from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. She has previously written about the relation among design, criminal liability, and forensics, with forthcoming writing focusing on the role of financial forensic expertise in shaping Colombia’s current political transition.
“I am delighted to bring my experience as a Latin American legal scholar and anthropologist to Swarthmore,” says Azuero- Quijano, “especially given how much interest there is among students around questions of law, politics, and justice. “
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Adrienne Benally
Benally’s research explores the intersection of cultural sustainability, land, and extractive industries. She is particularly concerned with the impacts of fossil energy development on Indigenous communities. Benally is Diné and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies from Claremont Graduate University. In the classroom she encourages the sharing of distinct histories, experiences, views, and perspectives and strives to inspire students to grow and mature their critical thinking; to challenge their assumptions; to try on different lenses and ways of knowing; and to appreciate who they are and what they have to offer to the world.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Catherine Hsu
Beginning her second year at the college, Hsu focuses her research on algebraic number theory. With a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Oregon, Hsu is interested in patterns and properties of various number-theoretic objects, including modular forms, Euclidean ideals, and circle packings. She has especially enjoyed working on mathematical exposition with her Swarthmore students.
Assistant Professor of Art Jody Joyner
Working in sculpture, installation, and video, Joyner comes to the College as an assistant professor of art. Her studio practice integrates traditional sculptural processes like casting and welding with emergent technologies and organic matter. Joyner’s work has been supported by multiple grants and awards including the Al Held Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, the Josef Albers Traveling Fellowship, and the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. In her teaching, she seeks to empower students with the creative confidence and hands-on skills to pursue paths of their own making, both within and beyond the visual arts.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Allison Miller
Miller’s main research interests are low-dimensional topology and knot theory. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, she taught for three years as a G.C. Evans Instructor at Rice University and is currently a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. She will teach Linear Algebra in the fall and Mathematics for Social Justice in the spring.
“While at Rice, I developed and taught a course on ethics in mathematics,” says Miller. “I’m excited to continue exploring those ideas at Swarthmore, and about returning to a liberal arts environment.”
Assistant Professor of History Vivian Truong
Truong is a community-engaged historian whose areas of research include Asian American, urban, and social-movement history. She has a Ph.D. from the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where her dissertation was awarded the 2020 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. Truong’s current research project, “Whose City? Our City! Asian American and Multiracial Movements against Police Violence in New York,” traces the development of these movements since the 1970s.
“At a moment when a deep engagement with U.S. history is as important as ever, I’m thrilled to begin teaching at Swarthmore to encourage students to question how the social, cultural, and political conditions of the world around them came to be.”
Faculty members receiving distinguished faculty positions:
Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change James Fenelon
Fenelon is the founder and director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University, San Bernardino. Fenelon’s teaching and research focuses on urban inequality, social movements, Native Nations, race and racism, and social movements. He is Lakota/Dakota and has worked with the Urban Conservation Corps, the California Indian Nations College, and recently on environmental water research with the Water Resources Policy Institute.
“I am deeply impressed at the motivation and level of awareness of Swarthmore students, who I believe will make fine future leaders our country and the world so desperately needs in these times of the Anthropocene and deep inequality,” says Fenelon. “I am also impressed by the College’s efforts at sustainability and with engaged scholarship.”
Distinguished Visiting Instructor of Creative Writing Andrea Lee
Author of novels, memoirs, and short fiction, Lee explores themes of identity and concepts of foreignness. Receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University, Lee is the author of the National Book Award-nominated memoir Russian Journal, the novels Sarah Phillips and Lost Hearts in Italy, and the short-story collection Interesting Women. Her latest novel, Red Island House (2021), is set in Madagascar and examines postcolonial themes of class and race and fantasies of tropical paradise through the eyes of an adventurous Black American heroine.
“I have a deep connection to Swarthmore,” Lee says. “My older brothers went to Swarthmore and Haverford, and my son Charlie Aprile — born in Italy — is Swat Class of 2018. I grew up in nearby Yeadon, visited the campus as a child, but for adventure’s sake chose Harvard for college and Europe for life after that. Yet I always had a warm spot in my heart for Swarthmore, and was thrilled when my project to research a childhood memoir overlapped serendipitously with an invitation to the College. I thought it would be intriguing to teach a workshop on writing memoir as I was engaged in the same process, and now have an impressive group of students whose passion and communicativeness often lead me to unexpected insights in my own work. So I guess I’ve ended up studying at Swarthmore after all!”