On July 31, 2019, I gave a talk as part of the new Austen Riggs Center public lecture series on mental health. The series is an extension of the Riggs centennial, and was incorporated into their public exhibit: “The Hospital on Main Street: Human Dignity and Mental Health.”
In my talk, I gave an overview of attitudes toward mental health in the colonial period, beginning with Native American perspectives on mental illness, then covering colonial Puritans in Massachusetts, and ending with the development of secular mental health treatment in the early years of the American republic (pre-contact to about 1812).
My main argument for this research is that attitudes toward mental health have varied, but mental illnesses have always been present in America. At several points, mental illness has been viewed just like any other kind of illness. Colonial Puritans also believed they had a duty to support and care for one another for the good of society. The health of everyone mattered.
Studying the good and bad parts of the history of mental health in this country is valuable because it normalizes and de-stigmatizes mental illness. Putting all aspects of health back into our history can help us be more empathetic, remind us to care for one another, and to see each other as people.
During the summer of 2019, I am the Erikson scholar in Residence at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA. While at Riggs, I am researching mental health and patient agency in the colonial period. Current Scholar Page (Summer 2019).
Stay tuned for more updates on the project!
One of Siena’s intrepid school of liberal arts students did a write-up on the “Thinking About Going to Grad School” panel I participated in the other day! I’m so glad our advice can reach a larger audience!
Thinking About Grad School? Siena’s Breathtaking Liberal Arts Blog
On Wednesday, November 7th, I will be joining two of my English department colleagues to talk to our students about graduate school. Together, we’ll be offering honest advice about whether or not to pursue an MA, MFA, or PhD, and giving tips on what to know prior to starting an academic career. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience and hearing what questions Siena’s students have about grad school!
I’m super excited about the courses I will be teaching at Siena in the spring. In addition to teaching Writing 100 again (with a theme of conspiracy theories which my students are really enjoying!), I am also teaching a Short Story class focused on science fiction, and I’m putting together a brand new course on Rhetoric and Social media! Stay tuned for syllabi and assignment sheets on my teaching page (coming January 2019).
This month I was honored to be recognized as the Society of Early Americanists’ Junior Scholar of the Month. I was nominated by a scholar in the field, and provided an interview to the SEA. You can read it here: https://www.societyofearlyamericanists.org/whats-new-announcements/sea-junior-scholar-of-the-month-for-october-stacey-dearing
Working with the SEA is part of my ongoing dedication to service in the field. I am privileged to be able to work with such generous, inspirational scholars!
I don’t usually get excited about Google Doodles, but yesterday they honored Mary Prince’s 230th birthday. Prince was the first black woman to publish a slave narrative in England, and was an ardent abolitionist. Here’s a quote from the Google piece that stands out:
“I have been a slave myself,” Prince wrote in The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. “I know what slaves feel—I can tell by myself what other slaves feel, and by what they have told me. The man that says slaves be quite happy in slavery—that they don’t want to be free—that man is either ignorant or a lying person. I never heard a slave say so.”
Yesterday I found out that I received an Honorable Mention for an Excellence in Teaching Award from the English Department at Purdue for my teaching during the 2017-2018 academic year. I’d like to thank my amazing students and my colleagues for pushing me to always work to be a better teacher!
My first article was published on March 28th in the peer-reviewed journal Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. I’m absolutely thrilled to have a hard copy of the article. I’d also like to thank Hilary Wyss for encouraging this article from its inception, Nush Powell for helping me revise it for publication, and my colleagues at Purdue for reading drafts and providing helpful feedback.
You can purchase this article on the Dialogue website: https://www.dialoguejournal.com/archive/dialogue-premium-content/spring-2018/