Faculty/Staff Accomplishments and Departmental News April 2020

In this issue, we celebrate the accomplishments of faculty and staff in art, athletics, child development, communication, fashion, marketing, music, political science, psychology, religious and ethical studies, world languages & cultures. We also share departmental news from the Office of International Programs and the Office of Student Leadership & Service and a call for research participants for a Human Environmental Sciences project. 

Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven Benko was quoted in an article, “How You Should Get Food Safely,” in The Atlantic Magazine on the ethics of food delivery. In it, Benko said because people’s labor is directly tied to their ability to access health insurance, people should think more expansively than just “where should I get my food” but instead be thinking of how getting food from local restaurants benefits people in the community.

Benko shared about a conference that was canceled, saying “the coronavirus is why we cannot have nice things.” Had there not been a global pandemic, Benko would have attended the national meeting of the American Culture/Popular Culture Association national meeting, where he was scheduled to present “You Know I Didn’t Even Care: When Did I Lose My Confidence in Dave Chappelle?,” a paper that would have dealt with the idea of the problem of thinking that comedians mean what they say and that perhaps Chappelle is playing a confidence game with his audience: exposing the hypocrisy of his audience by getting them laugh at what they’ll find offensive later. This paper will be included in a collection of essays about Dave Chappelle and philosophy from Open Court Press. Professor of Psychology Mark O’Dekirk and Benko would have presented “Live, Learn, Die, Repeat: Free Will, Illusionism, and Determinism in Contemporary Pop Culture,” which explores the concept of free will in recent time-loop narratives such as Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day 2U, and Russian Doll.

A large part of this trip to the American Culture/Popular Culture Association meeting would have been presentations by Meredith undergraduate students. Ellie Jones and Bailey Birtchet would have presented “Degrees of Women’s Anger: Burning Hot, Cold, or Out of Control.” This paper was the conclusion of their summer research on the rise of anger and rage as organizing principles in contemporary American feminism. Raynor Dail would have presented her paper “Animals in Real War versus Film Fantasy.” Dail based her analysis on just war guidelines and social attitudes towards different types of animals to explore how violence against animals is deployed in films. She focused on the use of dogs and horses in the John Wick trilogy and 12 Strong. Noor Elmaghrabi would have presented her paper on whether different theories of humor can account for laughter in different societies or if those theories are applicable only in western contexts. Her paper, “Crossing Cultural Lines: Comedy and Political Satire in Egypt” explored the use of satire by Bassem Yousef, the Egyptian Jon Stewart. Madison Gladwell would have presented on the intersection between blonde jokes and lawyer jokes, asking whether lawyer jokes imply that the lawyer is always male and the blonde always female. Her paper, “Being Legally Blonde: Blonde Jokes, Lawyer Jokes, and the Construction of Femininity” used the movie Legally Blonde to better understand how these jokes construct masculine and feminine identities. Linda Yager would have presented on the use of racist imagery and tropes in contemporary American cinema. Her paper, “Survey of Racial Tropes in Modern Media Derived from African Slave Stereotypes” would have used material culture theory to explore the work these artifacts do in cinema. Finally, Jahnavi Patel would have presented “The Unruly Women of Bollywood.” Her paper raises the question of why there are no films like Bridesmaids in Bollywood cinema and what that reveals about limitations for how women can be portrayed in Indian cinema.

Associate Professor of Political Science Jeff Martinson was interviewed by the Associated Press for an article about how the coronavirus may change American perspectives on the world. The story ran in numerous media outlets including The New York Times.

A manuscript by Assistant Professor of Marketing Lisa Monahan and her co-author Marisabel Romero, “Heading the Right Way? The Influence of Motion Direction in Advertising on Brand Trust,” has been accepted by the Journal of Advertising.

Assistant Professors Pamela Norcross (Child Development) and Ali Howell (Fashion Merchandising and Design), along with students Miranda Hosington (FMD) and Alexis Tennent (CD) had a poster accepted titled  Impact of  School Dress Codes on Adolescent Identity Development to be presented at  North Carolina Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NCAFCS), Asheville, North Carolina, March, 2020. Norcross is on the academic planning committee for the Association of Child Life Professionals and will be leading a three-hour academic session on Integrating Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Child Life Classes.  Her presentation with two other child life colleagues, will be titled “Having Difficult Conversations in Classrooms: Strategies for Best Practices.”  This conference, scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, in May will now be held virtually. Howell and Norcross will be presenting “Impact of School Dress Code Bias on Adolescent Development” at the Society for Research on Child Development special topic meeting: Construction of the ‘Other’: Development, Consequences, and Applied Implications of Prejudice and Discrimination, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The conference, regularly scheduled for May 2020, will now be rescheduled.

The Anglo-Norman Text Society (Oxford) has published a new critical edition of an Anglo-Norman translation of Alexander’s letter to his mentor Aristotle. The Lettre d’Alexandre, edited by Brent A. Pitts, Department of World Languages & Cultures, appears as volume 21 in the Anglo-Norman Text Society’s Plain Texts Series. The Lettre d’Alexandre sur les merveilles de l’Inde is an exotic and entertaining story of Alexander the Great’s conquest of India and his encounters with denizens and many ferocious or marvellous beasts. Towards the end, young Alexander consults two oracular trees to learn his fate. The Tree of the Sun and the Tree of the Moon inform him that he will die by an assassin’s hand and will never see Greece, his mother or his sisters again. A Latin version of the Lettre circulated as early as the 4th century. There are at least 190 manuscripts of the Latin Epistola dating from the 9th to the 15th century. The Anglo-Norman translation may be as early as the late 12th century, but is more likely 13th century. Pitts carried out his research during five visits to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, 2008-2016. He is thankful to Arts & Humanities and Meredith College for supporting research by faculty members. The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (Oxford) also underwrote his research in 2014.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Betty-Shannon Prevatt and Assistant Professor of Art Emily Howard were accepted to present a panel discussion titled “Activism in Women’s Work: A Psychology of Gender and Fiber Art Collaborative Project” at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association annual conference in St. Petersburg, Fla. The focus of the panel was the cross-disciplinary project in which students from Psychology of Gender and Fiber Arts courses collaborated to compare historical and contemporary activism efforts of women. After researching a contemporary socio-political issue, groups worked to translate psychological and gender issues into artistic expression. Topics included immigration, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, women of color, police brutality, social media, and body image and mental health, among others. Students produced an art quilt with an accompanying website documenting the historical inspiration for the current quilt. The panel discussion was to include students’ perspectives with Alison Drake, Lydia Gunn, Brooke Mattingly, and Nikki Impelizino also presenting. The students’ artwork was also accepted for a separate exhibition at the conference. The conference was canceled because of COVID-19.

Lauren Scott, head coach of Meredith’s Lacrosse team, earned her 100th win on March 8, 2020. Read more on

Angela Smedley, an adjunct in the department of Communication, presented “Expanding our Communication Center: Helping Interpersonal Students Find Their Voices” at the virtual conference for the National Association of Communication Centers (NACC) hosted by Clemson University.

Adjunct Professor of Music Chelsea Waddelow published the column “Surviving Coronavirus 101: What Artists Can Do to Keep Calm and Create On,” for the Classical Voice of North Carolina on March 27.

On March 11-13, Director of Instrumental Activities Jim Waddelow adjudicated 80 high school and middle school orchestra performances for the North Carolina Music Educator Association Western Region Music Performance Assessment in Winston-Salem.

Departmental News

Spring Break Trip to New Bern
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Office of International Programs and the  Office of Student Leadership and Service (SLS) led a spring break trip to New Bern, North Carolina’s original capital. The 13 student group included international, out of state, commuter, and residential students. The group explored the Tryon Palace, the original birthplace of Pepsi, went on a sailing excursion, and took a historical trolley tour. The trip was led by Assistant Director of International Programs Traci Stewart Johnson and Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Service Catie Trimble McAnulty.

Research Participants Needed
Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising & Design Ali Howell shared the following announcement about a research project: The voices of womxn of color and transgender individuals are needed for in-depth interviews about their experiences and attitudes toward the women’s marches from 2017 through 2020 and the symbolism of the pussyhat.This study is important because your perspectives and experiences will lend authenticity and voice to our understanding, not only of Women’s Marches and the symbolism of hats worn during them but also important insight from people who represent historically marginalized groups that are specifically sought to be benefitted by the actions of marchers. Any participant who completes an interview is eligible to receive a $50 Amazon gift card. If you are interested in participating please reach out to Ali Howell at If you know of someone else who may be interested please share this statement with them. Thanks!

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330