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Spring 2019 Speaker Biographies

Giles Gallery Sponsored by the Department of Art and Design, the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences and the Honors Program 

Each year, the Fred Parker Giles Gallery at Eastern Kentucky University, in conjunction with the Chautauqua Lecture Series and the Department of Art and Design, mounts a National Juried Art Exhibition focused on that year’s theme. The exhibition is organized by Giles Gallery curator, Esther Randall, who selects the juror and manages the submission process. Entrants are required to submit an artist’s statement that expresses their sense of their work’s connection to the series theme. Jurors typically select 50-70 works in all media as finalists for the exhibition and award merit prizes and monetary awards for the top three (or more) entries. In addition, a special theme award is conferred by the curator in collaboration with the lecture series coordinator.


Reniqua AllenSponsored by the Office of Diversity, the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, the Department of Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work and the Honors Program

Reniqua Allen is an Eisner Fellow at the Nation Institute, and a writer, producer, commentator and academic who focuses on issues surrounding race, class, social mobility and popular culture. Her first book, It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America, will be published in January 2019 (Nation Books/Hachette Press).

Most recently, as a producer with WNYC Studios, Reniqua Allen worked as a producer for the second season of the show, The United States of Anxiety, and she served as a casting producer for MTV’s longest running docu-series, True Life, about young people and the 2016 presidential election. Previously, she was a field producer on the documentary film, Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class, which aired on PBS.

Reniqua Allen has worked on a range of shows for PBS, including Moyers & Company, The Bill Moyers Journal, and On Faith & Reason, and also as an archival producer for Sundance-nominated films like Hot Coffee (HBO) and We’re Not Broke. She got her start in broadcasting working in live news for MSNBC and the FOX News Channel. She has published a range of essays and articles for many top outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, Quartz, Congressional Quarterly, Uptown, The San Francisco Chronicle, Transition and Teen Vogue.

In addition to the Nation Institute, Reniqua Allen has also held fellowships with the New America Foundation and the think tank Demos. Building upon her BA in journalism and an MA in political science from American University, Reniqua Allen has completed coursework for a PhD in American Studies from Rutgers University and is working on a dissertation that will examine representations of the black middle class on television in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.


Eric Thomas WeberSponsored by the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Honors Program. 

Dr. Eric Thomas Weber is Executive Director of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), co-host of the syndicated Philosophy Bakes Bread radio show and podcast (hear it on WRFL 88.1 FM in Lexington), and the author of four books, including Morality, Leadership, & Public Policy (2010), Democracy and Leadership: On Pragmatism and Virtue (2013) and Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South (2015) as well as many articles. Weber is currently serving as a visiting associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. Prior to joining the University of Kentucky, he taught in the department of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi, where he was awarded the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching, the Thomas F. Frist Award for Student Service, and the Mississippi Humanities Council's Public Scholar Award. SOPHIA, which he leads, was recognized with the 2017 American Philosophical Association and Philosophy Documentation Center Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. You can connect with him on Facebook at and on Twitter @EricTWeber.


Marcy NortonSponsored by the Animal Studies Program, the Department of Psychology and the Honors Program.

Marcy Norton (Ph.D. Berkeley) is a historian of the early modern Atlantic World, with a focus on Latin America and Spain. Much of her research is guided by two questions: How did colonialism shape the Americas? And how did Native America shape European modernity? Thematically she is most interested in writing history that explores the intersections of environment, embodiment and thought, concerns that have guided her work on the history of food, drugs, science and inter-species relationships. Her publications include Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2008, winner of the best book prize from the Association for the Study of Food and Society), “Subaltern Technologies and Early Modernity in the Atlantic World” (Colonial Latin America Review, 2017) and two articles that appeared in American Historical Review, “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics” (2006) and “The Chicken or the Iegue: Human-Animal Relationships and the Columbian Exchange” (2015), which won the Council on Latin American’s history Vanderwood Prize for the best article in Latin American History. She also co-edited (with Ralph Bauer) a special issue of Colonial Latin America Review entitled “Entangled Trajectories: Indigenous and European Histories” (2017). She is currently finishing a book about colonialism and human-animal relationships in early modern Europe and America, which will be published by Harvard University Press.


Jennifer BaumgardnerSponsored by the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, the Department of Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work and the Honors Program

Jennifer Baumgardner is a writer, activist, filmmaker, editor and lecturer. She is the co-founder of Soapbox, Inc., a speakers’ bureau; the co-creator of Feminist Camp, the editor in chief of the Women's Review of Books and the publisher of Dottir, an independent feminist press. From 2008-2012, she was Writer-in-Residence at The New School, where she taught non-fiction workshops. From 2013-2017, she was the Executive Director/Publisher at The Feminist Press at CUNY, the longest running women's publisher in the world.

Baumgardner is the author/co-author of six books, including Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics (FSG, 2007, a Lambda finalist), Abortion & Life (Akashic, 2008), and the essay collection F ’em! Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls (Seal, 2011), as well as two best-selling books about feminism written with Amy Richards—Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (FSG, 2000) and Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism (FSG, 2005). She is the co-editor, with Madeleine Kunin, of We Do!: American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality. As a filmmaker, she produced the award-winning documentary, I Had an Abortion (2005), and produced and directed the testimonial based documentary, It Was Rape (2013).

Among other honors, Baumgardner was named a Jezebel 25, a Feminist Press 40 Under 40, and a recipient of the Stand Up for Reproductive Justice Award from the Feminist Women's Health Center of Atlanta. The Commonwealth Club of California honored her in their centennial year as a “Visionary for the 21st Century,” commenting that “in her role as author and activist, [Jennifer has] permanently changed the way people think about feminism… and will shape the next 100 years of politics and culture.”

After completing her degree from Lawrence University, Jennifer Baumgardner spent five years as an editor at the feminist magazine, Ms. (1993-1997), and then became a writer for many venues including Harper’s, The Nation, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Real Simple, Glamour, Redbook, Babble, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle.

As a speaker, Baumgardner has keynoted at more than 300 universities, organizations and conferences, including the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, Amherst College and Take Back The Night UW-Madison, to name a few.

Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Jennifer lives in New York City with her husband, two sons and two Abyssinian cats.


Mehrzad BoroujerdiSponsored by the Bluegrass State Intelligence Community Centre of Academic Excellence, the Office of Graduate Education and Research, the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University and the Honors Program 

Mehrzad Boroujerdi is Professor of Political Science and O’Hanley Faculty Scholar at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. During the 2017-18 academic year, he served as a Fellow of the American Council on Education (ACE) at California State University – Northridge (CSUN) and was a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Dr. Boroujerdi is the author of several important works of comparative politics about Iran and the West, including most recently Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook (with Kourosh Rakimkhani, Syracuse University Press, 2018), as well as Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse University Press, 1996), and I Carved, Worshiped and Shattered: Essays on Iranian Politics and Identity (in Persian, Nashr-e Negah-e Mo`aser, 2010). He is also the editor of Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and Theory of Statecraft (Syracuse University Press, 2013). He has authored more than thirty journal articles and book chapters in both English and Persian.

Boroujerdi is a past President of the Association for Iranian Studies (2012-2014), book review editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2000-07), and a former non-resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C (2005-16). He is a co-founder of the Iran Data Portal and sits on the board of directors of the Near East Foundation.

Dr. Boroujerdi has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships from American Council on Education, Harvard University, Henry R. Luce Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Social Science Research Council, the Institute of International Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the United States Institute of Peace and the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust. Other awards include the Foundation for Iranian Studies Best Doctoral Dissertation (1990), the Maxwell School’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for outstanding teaching, research and service (1998), and the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund’s Outstanding Service Award (2011).

Boroujerdi has been interviewed by and his work featured in numerous national and international media outlets such as Associated Press, LA Times, NPR, New York Times, Reuters, Der Spiegel and Washington Post, and he is a regular commentator on the Persian broadcasting of BBC and Radio Farda/Radio Liberty.

In addition to his teaching and scholarship, Dr. Boroujerdi has served in many senior administrative roles at Syracuse University: Chair of the Political Science Department (2014-17); Provost Fellow for Internationalization (2015-17); Co-chair of the Internationalization Council (2016-17); member of the Academic Strategic Plan Committee and co-chair of its Working Group on Enhancing Internationalization (2014-16); Director of Graduate Studies in the Political Science Department (2001-04); Founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program (2003-14); Co-founder of the Project on Religion, Media and International Affairs (2006-09); and founding editor of the Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East book series published by Syracuse University Press (1996-2014).



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