Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Two-Pager Club

By: Nicole Sintentos, Claritza Maldonado, Jacquelynn Jones, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Kate Duffy, Doctoral Candidates in American Studies

Providence, RI

This time has changed the way that we gather and create.

In late May, Nicole Sintetos reached out to the other graduate students in the American Studies department with an invitation to participate in a writing club. Below is her email, rooted in a feminist praxis of collaboration and care.

To: American Studies Graduate Students

From: Nicole Sintetos

Thu, May 28, 2020 at 5:32 PM

Re: The Two Pager Writing Club

Hi All,

I have been struggling to write the last two months: perhaps it is the isolation that curbs one’s confidence, or just the general depletion of joy in the world, or the increasingly overt brokenness of this country,  but let me tell you the words are not flowing. And yet, the dissertation (or any pressing deadline for that matter) needs to get done.

I’m interested in starting an unorthodox writing club. The rules: everyone in attendance must upload two pages (not three! two!) of any type of writing by Monday at midnight. Truly, any type of writing, as long as it is fresh off the press. It can be a dissertation chapter fragment. A journal entry about one’s frustration writing a dissertation chapter fragment.  A series of incomplete stream-of-conscious ideas written at two in the morning after too much wine in which you are haunted by your incomplete dissertation chapter. A partial fields essay in which you fight with Foucault. A poem about your love for Foucault. A McSweeney’s List. Really, anything.

Then, on Tuesday, over lunch, we will each discuss our individual submissions (simply, one thing we are still struggling with and one thing that we think might be fruitful).  We must then isolate just a single sentence from our submitted writing that we think is worth keeping and read it aloud.The scale of the writing group is to celebrate kernels of ideas, not fully fledged essays, and to hold space for the joy of writing at the sentence level. We actually will not edit each other’s work: the uploading is simply to provide an accountability structure for ourselves, though others can read and offer global compliments. Lunch will not exceed an hour.

I have long-felt that graduate school should be seen as a team sport. The same holds true for writing. And, frankly, I miss the spaces of community where we can casually talk about ideas.

If interested in joining the Two Pager Writing Club please shoot me an email.


In addition to gathering virtually each week, Nicole’s email prompted us to focus on both process and the creative work that we do beyond graduate school. Below, each member of the Two Pager Club shares a look into their creative lives and practices beyond our research and dissertation projects. We hold this space for each other to recognize and celebrate the life that we live within and beyond the academy. We encourage you to experiment with art supplies (broadly conceived) and think more about creative process rather than sheer productivity.

Collage image of rhubarb plants and fruit with image of a hand and record turntable.

Collage, Claritza Maldonado

Collage, like poetry, has taught me a lot about fragments, small pieces, and the many beautiful (and sometimes ugly) things that form from them. Most of the images I cut out for this collage are from different tourist magazines, food magazines, fashion magazines, and advertisement pages.

Photo of jeans with sunflowers painted on the back pockets. Yellow, orange, and brown paint bottles with paint brushes and painter palletlay next to the jeans.

Jean Art, Jacquelynn Jones

I started painting jeans because I wanted to use what I had to create something new. Painting this design, while using a new medium, has shown me that inspiration takes time and imagination needs space. It has also served as a needed reminder to slow down, to be patient, and to enjoy the process. 

Photo of an abstract watercolor drawing and art supplies.

Watercolors, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard

I’ve always wanted to understand different watercolor techniques, but I’ve also been intimidated. By playing with different materials, I’m trying to suspend my sense of judgment and allow myself to experiment—a kind of curiosity and acceptance that I try to bring to my writing too.

Photo of a red door within an old stone wall on a sunny day.

Photo, Kate Duffy

I walk around the neighborhood, taking time to notice, ponder, and appreciate the things I see.  This red door in an old stone wall has become a favorite point of interest. Since the pandemic began I’ve observed the vines grow thick with green leaves, then begin to fade again. On and on we go.

Photo credits: All images are by the creator named below the image.

Colorful confetti backdrop with the words "Announcing our Sarah Doyle Center Feminist Crossword Puzzle prize winners."

Announcing our Crossword Puzzle Challenge Winners!

By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first feminist crossword puzzle challenge this year! Congratulations to the first 5 students who completed the puzzle correctly and won a “Radical Roots: Nourishing Feminist Work” tote bag prize filled with feminist swag.

Jose Celaya-Alcala
Sumera Subzwari
Juliana Katz
Katherine Clark
Olivia Howe

We had almost 50 people submit answers to this crossword puzzle challenge, so we’ve decided to release another crossword puzzle challenge in late-October. Stay tuned to the Radical Roots blog for when it goes live.

Our first crossword puzzle of the fall term is still online for those who haven’t had a chance to work on it yet. There is a node you can toggle called “show errors,” which will check your answers for accuracy. Additionally, the answer key can be found here when you’re finished and want to verify your answers.

If you were one of the students who submitted answers to the puzzle, we’d love to hear from you! Were there any questions, in particular, that stumped you? Did you learn something new about feminist history that you didn’t know? Please comment on this entry and share with us!

Radical Oral Histories

By: Amanda Knox, Assistant Archivist at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

Dispatching from an unusually cluttered dining room in Attleboro, MA

Photo of Amanda Knox capturing the oral history of Diane Straker, Administrative Assistant at the Pembroke Center, in January 2020. Both are seated at a table with shelves of file boxes behind them.
Photo of Amanda Knox collecting the oral history of Diane Straker, Administrative Assistant at the Pembroke Center, in January 2020. Photo taken by Martha Hamblett, Programs and Stewardship Coordinator at the Pembroke Center.

When the Pembroke Center Oral History Project began in 1982 it was a way for women to ensure their stories would become and remain part of Brown University’s historical record. At that time, oral histories were largely discredited as scholarly sources. For the most part, anybody can “do” oral history; you really only need a recording device and someone willing to share their story. It was radical for the alumnae to believe their stories were valuable. It was radical for the Pembroke Center Archives and the Brown University Libraries to add those stories to the collections and make them available for research. It was radical for the Pembroke Center to change the name of the project, formerly known as Brown Women Speak, in order to be more inclusive and steward stories from trans and non-binary members of the community. Today, it feels radical to continue our oral history work through the COVID-19 global pandemic and fight for racial justice.

To date, Mary Murphy, the Nancy L. Buc ’65 Pembroke Center Archivist, and I have collected over 40 interviews with students, staff, faculty, and alums, who have wanted to talk specifically about their experiences with the pandemic and subsequently about their experiences at the recent protests against racism and police violence. Over thirty of these interviews are currently on the Pembroke Center Oral History website, including interviews from Soyoon Kim ’19, Virginia Thomas ’20, and Sara Matthiesen ’15, all of whom have connections to the Sarah Doyle Center.

Soyoon thoughtfully discussed her work as a Program Coordinator for the Global Brown Center for International Students. She recalled a panel of health experts who initially were not concerned about the virus spreading out of Wuhan and she also recounted assisting international students with their transitions off campus. At the end of her interview, Soyoon said, “I myself, Soyoon Kim, feel very lucky and privileged and so grateful for the support, the network of support that I have at Brown, in my physical vicinity with my housemates, with my partner, and with family back home.” After her interview, I was left with these words and the reminder to recognize and appreciate the outstanding community I am also privileged to have.

To that end, Virginia Thomas addressed concerns about the trajectory of higher education and the strength and resilience of the students in her “Queering Oral History” course. We had a wonderful conversation about interviewer-interviewee dynamics, the ways in which socially distanced interviews can impact the story an interviewee shares, and the power of capturing LGBTQ history through individuals’ stories. When I asked her what she would want listeners to know tomorrow and 50 years from now, she said she wants them to know they’re not alone. Members of the LGBTQ+ community can often feel alone and isolated on the best of days. Under today’s circumstances, these feelings can be and are exacerbated. Virginia reminded me to think beyond myself and my own feelings, to reach out to friends and those acquaintances who were about to be friends before we all had to part, in order to do my part to reduce suffering. 

Additionally, Sara spoke about her experiences as a professor and as an activist during this time. She commented on protests she participated in, media coverage of the pandemic, states’ legislation on access to reproductive healthcare, and rights and resources for essential workers. She emphasized that “every political effort and social movement was fighting for a thing that seemed impossible until it wasn’t.” This is another statement I have not been able to forget since interviewing Sara at the beginning of May. Making it through this pandemic may seem impossible, but one day it will just be something that we all did. At one point, it seemed impossible for oral histories, particularly those from women, trans, and non-binary people, to be recognized as legitimate records. Today it is my charge to actively collect them and make them available, in part because they are in such high demand.

Over the course of my time at the Pembroke Center I have listened to well over 200 interviews. Many, like Soyoon’s, Virginia’s, and Sara’s, have left a lasting impact on my heart and my mind. My hope is that you, too, will listen to these stories from members of your community, find inspiration from them, and know that your use of them is a radical act.