Maggie Unverzagt Goddard
I’m an interdisciplinary scholar of art and activism working at the intersections of performance and visual culture studies, public humanities, and critical theories of the body. I’m currently a PhD candidate in American Studies at Brown University with an MA in Public Humanities and a Certificate in Gender & Sexuality Studies from the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Concerned with the politics of looking, my work focuses on how visual and material culture reflects and inflects historical narratives and the representation of the body.
In my dissertation, Improper Objects: Embodied Aesthetics and the Politics of the Pelvis, I explore the relationship between historical narratives and the body through visual culture, performance, and protest. Combining archival research and close reading, I focus on how artists and activists offer aesthetic strategies to reshape public memory while also complicating and claiming bodily autonomy. Each chapter is oriented around a particular object associated with the pelvis to illuminate central debates surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Indexing memory and materiality, I trace and trouble a contracting timeline that extends from the 19th century to the present to position the pelvis—not as a source of bodily legibility—but as a complex affective site shaped through different sociocultural and historical circumstances.
My writing has been published in Women & Performance, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Fwd: Museums. I have presented on my research at the American Studies Association, Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, College Art Association, National Council on Public History, National Women’s Studies Association, and the North Eastern Public Humanities Consortium. I received the William E. Brigman Award from The Journal of Popular Culture and the Graduate Student Conference Paper Prize from the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.
At Brown, I served as an Interdisciplinary Opportunity Fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage and as an S4 Fellow at the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences Initiative. I also held the Curatorial Proctorship at the David Winton Bell Gallery and the 21st-Century PhD Proctorship at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, and I organized the Archival Aesthetics Mellon Workshop Group. I was a research and teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in the Departments of American Studies and Ethnic Studies and designed and teach the courses “Objects as Texts: Materializing Race, Gender, and Sexuality,” “Power and the Production of History,” and “Missing: Museums, Memorials, & Gentrification.” I also work as a Graduate Associate at the Writing Center and with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, and I collaboratively coordinate the Royce Fellowship program at the Swearer Center, which supports a cohort of students in carrying out independent community-engaged research projects.
In addition to my research and teaching, I have served on the Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board, College Curriculum Committee, Independent Concentration Committee, Finance Committee of the Graduate Student Council, and the Redesigning Ability VII Task Force at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown to reform the medical school curriculum through changes to integrate racial justice and health equity as core competencies. I am also a member of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee for the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and the Race, Medicine and Social Justice research cluster at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.
Born in Cleveland and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I received my bachelor’s degree with honors in Religion with a concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Society and a minor in Philosophy from Haverford College. I also hold master’s degrees in Public Humanities from Brown and in American Studies from the George Washington University. My graduate and undergraduate studies bridged my interests in critical theory, material culture, and the politics of the body. At George Washington, I received a Graduate Fellowship as the Graduate Teaching Assistant for University Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble and the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Scholar Award, awarded to the graduating master’s student with the highest academic achievement and the greatest contributions to the university community. With a background in education and curation, I have previously worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Thomas Alva Edison High School/John C. Fareira Skills Center through AmeriCorps VISTA, and Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Public humanities is an integral component of my own scholarship and teaching. As part of my master’s training in public humanities, I completed practicums focused on curation and public engagement at the Cleveland Print Room and moCa Cleveland. I continue to curate exhibitions and collaboratively coordinate public projects that incorporate digital storytelling and data visualizations. At Brown, I created Tiny Exhibits, a rotating installation series at the Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. I also worked on Rhode Tour, a statewide mobile historical app, and Mapping Violence, a digital research project directed by Dr. Monica Muñoz Martinez that documents histories of racial violence in Texas. I regularly collaborate with arts and culture organizations, schools, and community groups to create installations, digital projects, public programs, and other events.