The Director: Chezia Thompson Cager

Poet, Chezia Thompson Cager accepted the legacy of Spectrum's commitment to provide vision and insight into intersecting worlds of poetic text in 1999.  A Maryland State Arts Council Individual Award recipient for 1999 and 2001, a 1996 Artscape Poetry competition winner (selected by Josephine Jacobsen), a 2002 finalist for the Naomi Madget Long Poetry Award at Lotus Press, and Atlantic Center for the arts and Bread Loaf grant 2002 recipient, Dr. Thompson has published work in a wide range of poetry journals that recently include: Gargoyle, Potomac Review, Poet Lore, Maryland Poetry Review, Poetry New Zealand and Puerto Del Sol.  She has 2 Chapbooks including Artscape winner Power Objectives and a book published by Maisonneuve Press - The Presence of Things Unseen: Giant Talk and a compilation project called When Divas Laugh, which she edited from the Diva Squad Poetry Collective available through Black Classic Press.  Her poems appear in the following anthologies: From Totems to Hip Hop edited by Ishmael Reed (2003); Catch the Fire edited by Derrick I. Gilbert; Dark Eros edited by Reginald Martin; Thy Mothers Glass edited by Diane Scharper; and Moving Beyond Boundaries edited by Boyce-Davies and Ogundipe-Leslie.

Her new compilation with Kendra Kopelke and Clarind Harris When Divas Dance is due out next year.  Teaching Jean Toomer's 1923 CANE will be available through Peter Lang Publisher's special African American Literature series next year.  She has also co-curated Sculptured Phenomenology with Maren Hassinger.

An Alumni of the first African-American High School established west of the Mississippi (Sumner High School), she is a product of English Chairman Dorothy Matlock's idea of an artist-warrior.  A graduate of Washington University (where she studied with Howard Nemerov and Watts Poetry Workshop Poet, K. Curtis Lyle; and Carnegie-Mellon University , her research studies in Nigeria, Jamaica and Haiti (in relationship to the work of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Wole Soyinka), have been the source of her diaspora approach to poetic syntax, theatre direction and curatorial work, bringing image and text together.  A member of Carolina African-American Writers Collective, she was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri on the Mississippi River.  She lives with her family in Baltimore in H.L. Mencken's Union Square.


Guernica, Pablo Picasso

Director Chezia Thompson Cager introduces the faculty members of the Department of Language and Literature whose expertise drive the series
Dr. Mikita Brottman

Mikita Brottman was educated at St. Hilda's College and St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford, where she obtained a PhD in English Language and Literature. Her main area of interest is the apocalyptic impulse in contemporary culture. She is the author or editor of five books, the latest of which, Car Crash Culture, was published by Palgrave in January 2002. She publishes regularly in academic journals like Film Quarterly, New Literary History and English Review, as well as alternative publications like Headpress. She also reviews movies for Indiewire and other film magazines, both in England and the U.S. Formerly Assistant Professor of Comparative literature at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is currently a professor in the Department of Language and Literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  Click here for her bibliography

Dr. Soheila Ghausey
Soheila Ghausey was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1963 and moved to Kabul Afghanistan in 1964.  She was simultaneously enrolled in the local Malalai girls' school in Kabul and the German International School of Kabul until her family relocated, in short succession to Hamburg, Germany in 1973 and New York State in 1974.  In 1976, Ghaussy moved back to Hamburg where she finished her high school education and graduated with a baccalaureate from Theodor Heuss Gymnasium.  She studied English and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Hamburg and graduated with a Masters degree  while working as an ESL instructor for various private language institutes, as a translator for Grunar & Jahr, a large German publishing house, and as a journalist for one of Germany's leading newspapers, die Welt.  She was also active as an editor for a private English poetry journal, and involved in various English Theatre Projects in Hamburg, notably the University of Hamburg's Theatre Project University Players.  In 1991, Ghaussy relocated to the USA to continue her graduate studies.  She studied Comprehensive Literature at Purdue University, where she taught in the German and English department, and added an ESL qualification to her PhD in 2001.  Ghaussy confesses that her interests are "Eclectic to say the least.  As an uprooted person with no language to call my own and massive identity issues, I find that I don't want to  -- and really can't -- narrow my field of interest to just one thing."  Ghaussy has published articles in various German and American literary journals.  She has been a professor in the Language and Literature department since 2001, has taught film and film theory, colonial and postcolonial literature, and has been lecturing on Third World women and women in Afghanistan.  An article on Afghan children and war is due to appear this year in The Effects of War on Children, edited by Leonora Foerstel.  In her private time, Ghaussy likes to travel, write, sew, and take her dogs for extended walks in the park.  Click here for her bibliography.


Harry Mattison
Harry Mattison was born in New York City in 1948. For over twenty years he worked as a journalist and photographer in Central and Latin America Africa and the Middle East. His work has appeared in Time, Life, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The London Sunday Times, Nouvelle Observateur, Figaro. Stern, Paris Match, and Double Take. In 1982 he received The Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club for his work in El Salvador. In 1994 the Harbor Gallery and the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences of the University of Massachusetts-Boston, mounted a twenty-year retrospective of his photography. He is a co-founder of The Iron Range Community Documentation Project, where he designed and directed an interdisciplinary program for the University of Minnesota, involving more than 120 writers and photographers working in distressed communities on Minnesota's Iron Range. He has also worked as an editor for Granta magazine and as an advisor and site coordinator for "Writers Corps" a project of AmeriCorps. He has lectured at universities both here and abroad and continues to work in Central America, most recently in Honduras, where he is completing an archive on human rights documentation. He is a 1999 recipient of a D.C. Arts Council Grant and, in 2000-­2001, his work was exhibited at the Fuji Art Museum in Tokyo. He lives with his wife, Carolyn, and their son, Sean, in Maryland.  Click here for his bibliography.


Dr. Robert Merrill
Dr. Margaret Morrison
Dr. John Peacock
John Peacock, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia Universities, is Professor of Literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.  His writing has appeared in over ten journals.  He has given over twenty-five invited readings across the U.S. and Europe in settings ranging from local libraries to universities to the Budapest Academy of Sciences.  He was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer, and his work has been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the American Philosophical Society.  John Peacock lives in Takoma Park with his wife and son.  Click here for his bibliography.


Carole Poppleton

I began teaching when I was a graduate student pursuing an MA in literature. Like most students, I was hungry for money and thought that teaching writing and discussing short stories would be a rewarding way to spend time outside of my own studies. I often think of those first classroom experiences and how little I actually knew about teaching. All I can hope is that what I lacked in formal training I made up for in enthusiasm. I did discover, however, that I enjoyed working with students and that I had a knack for explaining things in a concise and understandable manner. What I was uncertain of, though, was whether I wanted to make a career out of teaching. Therefore, when I heard about teaching opportunities in Japan, I jumped at the chance to go. I figured I could travel a bit, learn about another culture and decide if I truly wanted to become a teacher full time. I sent a dozen or so resumes to Japan and took a job in a private language school all within a matter of weeks of my initial decision.  I spent almost two years in a "small" (well, over a million people) seaside town on the main island of Honshu. My town, Niigata, faced north toward Siberia, which should give you insight as to its climate: cold and snowy in winter, sticky and humid in the summer. Despite all the adjustments I had to make, I did discover that I really loved teaching and, specifically, teaching English to non­native speakers (EFL / ESL). While working in Japan, my youngest student was five, my oldest well into his seventies. I instructed English grammar, listening and reading courses as well as those centered on conversation and American cultural. It was very gratifying and a lot more fun than I had expected. I learned so much from my students and I really felt appreciated, as if I were helping them to discover something valuable and exciting. Based on my time overseas, I decided to redirect my studies and to specialize my teaching in the field of ESL. I received a diploma in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in 1991 and a MA in Teaching in 1995.  From my education and my 12 years experience in the field of teaching and ESL, I have developed a pedagogy that is sound, yet flexible. As a teacher I have adopted what is commonly called a Whole-Language approach to learning. This methodology asserts that language acquisition is inclusive: the receptive skills of listening and reading are integrated fully with the productive skills of speaking and writing. Acknowledging and utilizing these elements helps me to create a scaffold for learning and gives the student maximum exposure to the target language. It is also imperative that students learn in a meaningful context; whatever we are reading about or responding to via writing must be of interest to the student. In the past I have often used art and artists as a thematic base for my composition classes. This has guaranteed me that almost all students will be able to connect with the material on some level. I have recently altered my approach, however, and now teach a more structured form of academic writing, using a text specifically designed for ESL students. The readings are sequenced in length and difficulty and the writing assignments that spring out of these readings are also sequenced, allowing the student to formulate a firm foundation in composition and to build upon that in increasingly more difficult linguistic assignments. I adhere to the belief that we rise to the level of expectations set for us; thus I attempt to teach just beyond a student's actual level to encourage growth and learning. This is not an easy feat when one's classroom is filled with students of varying levels of proficiency. It requires that 1, as a facilitator and teacher, work with students individually and respond to student work frequently.  I used to believe that teaching was something one does, but I now believe that teaching or, rather, being a teacher, is something one is. It is not a job that one "leaves" at the end of the day. It is an ongoing process of learning, sharing, and growing, for if I am not a perpetual student, how can I expect that same level of inquisitiveness from those whom I teach? I hope that I relate my enthusiasm for my subject matter to my students. I want them not only to become better speakers and writers of English but also to develop themselves as independent thinkers and life-long learners. Every experience, every encounter is an opportunity for personal growth and maturation. I stress to my students the importance of seeing the "connectedness" of things and of moving beyond themselves in order to obtain a more informed understanding of the world and their place in it.  In order for me to remain informed, I must participate in groups and organizations that support my discipline. I have been an active member of TESOL and Maryland TESOL for years. I am in my third year on the Board for Maryland TESOL and I co-edit the newsletter. Since I took over the directorship of the College's Writing Center in 1999, I have also become reacquainted with the philosophies that surround how to support writing, how to conduct successful tutorials and how to manage a Center whose primary goal is to be a safe, comfortable and helpful place for writers of all levels and disciplines to seek assistance. I have found it especially useful to attempt to integrate my knowledge of how to work effectively with non-native speakers into the training materials for tutors who staff the Center.  Finally, along side my work as a teacher and the Director of the Writing Studio, I am also a practicing visual artist. I have been making art since I was a child as creativity was highly valued in my family. I have experimented with a variety of media, from black and white photography to throwing on a potter's wheel. The form I like best at this stage in my life is mixed media because I can incorporate materials such as oils, cloth, print and pastels into my collages. I feel very fortunate to teach at MICA since I am constantly being exposed to world-class artists who are my colleagues and to innovative, creative artists who are my students.  Click here for her bibliography.


Dr. Christopher Shipley
Christopher Shipley earned his Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Chicago and has held faculty appointments at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Maryland, and Goucher College. He is currently Professor of English at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, where he has also served as Dean of the Liberal Arts and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. His interests and expertise include Contemporary Drama, Fiction Writing, Literary Theory, and the Narrative. He has published both scholarly essays and fiction. Christopher's Irish Week 1999 class focused on contemporary Irish drama, featuring the work of such playwrights as Brian Friel and Martin McDonagh.