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Rebecca Kumar, Ph.D.

February 2022

Rebecca KumarRebecca Kumar, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of English. She specializes in cinema and visual culture with an emphasis on global queer and feminist film. She also has scholarly interests in comparative ethnic studies, particularly Afro-Asian relations, and the emerging field of Brown Studies. Her published work appears in "Thirty Years After: New Essays on Vietnam War LiteratureFilm, and Art,” “Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies," and the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s digital publication, "Scholar & Feminist Online.

What excites you most about being a Research Day quad chair this year? How do you plan to make a difference?

I'm excited for our humanities students to share their important and exciting work. I plan to encourage students who may not see their projects as "research" to shift their mindsets and recognize their crucial contributions to their fields - how they analyze texts, evaluate historical precedent, synthesize evidence, compile data, and offer critical theory that have ethical impact. In turn, I hope that other disciplines see the integral role that the humanities play in developing and transforming ways of feeling, thinking, and knowing.

What are your research interests and what projects are you working on now?

I specialize in cinema and visual culture with an emphasis on global queer and feminist film. I also have interest in comparative ethnic studies, particularly AfroAsian relations, and the emerging field of Critical Brown Studies. I'm currently working on series of essays on representations of Brown people and Brownness in film and fan culture, particularly since 9/11.

Why is it important for Spelman students to participate in Research Day? What advantage does it give them over their peers?

As the adage goes, "I don't know what I think until I write it down." Research Day gives students the formal opportunity to "write down" their ideas, critically evaluate their potential using a diverse set of methods, and clearly articulate their work and its value. More than ever, it is vital to put substantiated, well-informed, and cross-checked ideas into the world. Students who participate in research day have the advantage of receiving feedback from other scholars who are invested in their scholarly questions and ethical concerns. This kind of scholarly community is very special.

Name at least one student research project of interest this year?

I am excited to continue working with my Mellon mentee, Diop Russell, on her project about representations of the Black femme in film and television. Extending the foundational work of Black film theorist, Kara Keeling, Diop's work is committed to fostering dignified and complex portrayals of LGBTQIA+ folx of color.

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