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Faculty Spotlight

“Unconventional,” “intuitive,” “fun,” “charismatic,” and “passionate” are some apt words to describe Professor Dustin Goltz, who prefers to go by  ‘Dusty.’ Born in Chicago, Dusty moved to Arizona at the age of 12. He remained in Arizona to receive his BA at Arizona State University, and then returned to Chicago to obtain an MFA in studio performance from the School of the Art Institute. This program allowed him to gain more laboratory experience in staged aesthetic and multimedia performance production, thus preparing him to teach more advanced level courses. After teaching community college courses for some time in public speaking, intro to communication, intro to film, intercultural communication and interpersonal communication he sought to earn a PhD in rhetorical criticism, performance theory and intercultural communication from Arizona State University in Communication.
After careful consideration, Dusty returned to Chicago for a teaching position in the College of Communication at DePaul. At first, he was concerned that the school would not appreciate part of his research, Queer Studies, particularly because the university is a Catholic affiliate. However, the entire faculty and staff immediately allayed his fears, as they were very supportive and engaged with his work. He claims that the enthusiasm and intelligence of the faculty is what persuaded him to accept the position. He has been at DePaul since 2008 and has recently received tenure.
At DePaul, Dusty works within the “Intercultural” field of Communication, the technical term for using an array of communication tactics. Intercultural communications is, “a major within human communication that looks at communication across difference, within and across cultural systems and how cultural context shapes the production of meaning [whether] performatively, rhetorically, [or] critically.” Formally trained in Communication, his studies and teachings are “rooted in performance studies, wherein theory is positioned alongside and through personal experience to promote critical dialogue.”
Dusty’s training, scholarship and teaching fits very well with the interdisciplinary design of the American Studies Program. Dusty identified “Performance Studies” as his specific field of study and the basis of his dissertation, which focused in particular on queer theory and queer media. His academic influences include several fields in the humanities, including sociology, theatre, art, English, and media criticism. A particular focus for Dusty has been media representation of the LGBTQ community, specifically “queer futurity”:  “In plain terms, narratives of what the future might be, how we construct a ‘meaningful life,’ and mythologies of older gay males (predatory, miserable, isolated) that place queer men in a complex relationship to discourses of time, aging, and future.” His research on “the lived complications of gay future-building” has led him to analysis of gay male representation in relation to aging.

This is Dr. Bronstein's second quarter as an American Studies Affiliated Faculty and we are honored to highlight her research and achievements in this faculty profile. Dr. Bronstein came to DePaul in the fall of 2000 as an Assistant Professor while she was finishing her dissertation at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Bonstein started off by teaching widely across the Communication Department curriculum, including new courses in the emerging public relations and advertising program, such as CMN 391: Public Relations Cases and CMN 391: Writing for Public Relations. She had a professional back ground in public relations and government affairs, but her academic training was focused in media studies, critical cultural studies, and feminist studies. As the program grew, she transistioned into other classes that better reflected her research interests and specializations.

As a feminist media scholar, Dr. Bronstein is interested in questions such as: how does the media represent women? For example, how is a "feminine" person supposed to behave? What is a "girl" supposed to look like? What is "feminine beauty" and what does that look like? On the flip side of that, she is also particularly interested in how women respond to these media representations, especially grassroots groups of feminist activists.

She investigated these issues in her book Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976-1986, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. This book is the definitive history of the American feminist anti-pornography movement. Dr. Bronstein wanted to understand where the anti-pornography movement came from, and she found it was the culmination of almost ten years of feminist activism against media violence. The core of this book investigates the history of grassroots feminist groups all over the country which started out not opposing pornography, but opposing media materials such as violent ads.

Dr. Bronstein is currently co-editing a new book coming out soon, published by the University of Massachusetts Press: Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representations in the 1970s. She is co-editing the book with Dr. Whitney Strub. The book analyzes pornography in the U.S. in the 1970s and epicts the ways in which different groups across the country accommodated the proliferation of pornography.

In addition to all her work as a professor and researcher, Dr. Bonstein has recently completed her first year as the Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Enrollment for the College of Communications. As Associate Dean, she oversees enrollment, which involves course scheduling, making sure students have the opportunity to take the classes they need to graduate on time, and ensuring that the curriculum is timely and relflects the society and industries that students are entering. She also works on strategic initiatives, especially around external visibility of the college and making sure that we are communicating all of the great student work and studeny outcomes in the College of Communication to the public.

Dr. Bronstein is also the Founding Faculty Director of the OpEd Project at DePaul. The OpEd Project is a national thought leadership project that trains faculty, primarily women and/or people of color, to translate their research expertise into popular op-eds and essays for the public. In this way, instead of sharing their expertise and research only with other academics, their knowledge enters the public sphere and enables faculty to participate actively in the important conversations and debates of our times. Dr. Bronstein founded the OpEd Project at DePaul in 2012. This past year, the third cohort completed its training, and there are now 60 members of the DePaul community, primarily faculty members, who are OpEd Project alumni. Together, they have published more than 150 thought pieces.

Dr. Bronstein is excited to be working with the American Studies Program and would like to work on cross-listing more Communication courses with American Studies.

It is important to have interdisciplinary majors that allow students to delve deeply into their areas of interest and passion. There are so many different points at which you can enter into the field of American Studies, and this major invites intellectual questions and explorations. Also, we have a fascinating national culture that is made up of so many different traditions, histories, people, races and religions, and American Studies provides a way to organize investigations that try to explain this strange and unique nation, and how it has come to be. Media studies are a very impportant component of American Studies, especially as media has become our dominant source of enteratinment and information, eclipsing interpersonal experience to a large degree. I'm very much looking forward to becoming more involved with the American Studies Program.

The American Studies department cooperates with various departments across DePaul in order to expand its reach to students and to develop its coursework. The Honors Program is one of those departments. Nancy Grossman is the Associate Director of the Honor’s Program at DePaul, an American Studies Program Committee member, and a young adult fiction author. She has been working at DePaul for over 27 years and is committed to enhancing the college experience for DePaul Honors students.

As the current Associate Director of the Honors Program, Nancy advises students who are in the colleges of LAS (including AMS students), CSH, Education, Music, and Theater. She also works with student life programming, oversees the mentor program, aims to make the Honors Program a scholarly community, oversees the academic components of the Honors Program to ensure that the Honors courses coincide with degree requirements in students’ academic programs, and reviews admissions for the Honors Program. Her favorite part of working with the Honors Program is advising. Nancy works with students who come into DePaul as Undeclared in order to facilitate their selection of a major. In addition she does ongoing academic planning with students; thus, she assists students who want to change their major, add a minor, add a second major, want to study abroad, or are struggling with personal or academic issues.

In addition to the work she does with the Honors Program, Nancy is on the American Studies Committee in order to find ways to draw Honors students into the AMS program. Nancy also served as a judge for the DeCordova Essay Competition. This is her second year of her affiliation with AMS.

I always recommend American Studies to students who are undeclared but have a lot of diverse interests. And I present it as a program that brings together so many different disciplines: political science, literature, art history, communication.

Nancy often tells her AMS Honors students that when her son was visiting prospective universities, they went to the University of Virginia. He was particularly keen on majoring in Journalism, but they soon discovered that the university did not have a Journalism or Communications program. They were baffled because Katie Couric graduated from the University of Virginia and pursued a journalism career. When they pulled up her bio, they found that Katie Couric had majored in American Studies.

So when a student makes that brave choice to be in a major that does not have an exact job that’s waiting at the end, I like them to know that these majors give you the skills to work in a variety of jobs, not just one job. I always tell students: don’t major in a job, because what if you don’t like that job? Pick a major for a lifetime.

Dr. Bill Johnson González, Assistant Professor in the Department of English, is devoted to enlarging the scope of the American literary canon so that it more accurately represents the diversity of US history and society. His major research interests involve Latinx literature, gender and sexuality, race in American writing, and the ways in which all of these subjects are represented in film. As a Chicago native who lived in Little Village at an early age and later attended Brother Rice High School, he was proud to return to the Windy City to teach at DePaul.

Having grown up in a home where his father only spoke English, his mother was bilingual, and his grandmother only spoke Spanish, Dr. Johnson González had to negotiate both of these languages, and he quickly developed a passion for languages. He also loved literature, for which he had a particular talent. By the time he got to college he was interested in Spanish, English, and French. He attended Yale University for his undergraduate education and decided to major in Spanish; he found that the courses that most interested him focused on Mexican-American and Chicanx writing, and the Spanish Department was the only place that offered courses on Chicanx literature.

The courses were bilingual, and it was also a really powerful thing to connect Chicanx writing to contemporary, 20th century Latin American writing. It was a perfect situation for me because I could still import things from the English Department and from the literature major. My goal was to think about Latinx literature as part of the larger corpuses of US writing and Latin American writing; Latinx literature is a transnational, multilingual literature.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Johnson González worked at The Hopkins School, a private high school in New Haven, Connecticut, as the Assistant Director of Admissions; he also taught English, Spanish, and physical education classes. He worked at the Hopkins School for a year before moving to New York City to work as an assistant to two literary agents at a firm called Writers’ House. After a year, he was offered a fellowship to pursue a PhD at Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and worked as a tutor in a Harvard program called, The Literature Major; his dissertation centered on the politics of multilingualism in the works of Sandra Cisneros and Richard Rodriguez, two incredibly influential Latinx writers in the US.

While completing his dissertation, he worked as a visiting lecturer at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Having already signed a year-long lease in Massachusetts, he had to commute about twice a week to teach at Wesleyan. He moved to Connecticut after a year, and continued to teach at Wesleyan for an additional two years, before starting his position at DePaul.

I remember that first year very fondly. It’s bizarre but, as hard as I worked that year, it was a really amazing year. Wesleyan said, “Teach what you love; teach the texts you want to teach.” And it was so affirming, especially because the students were appreciative and excited about the material.

I encourage all of my students to take their writing very seriously. When students write essays for me I give a lot of feedback. It is crucial to help students learn how to articulate their ideas and become strong writers. This is challenging in ten weeks, but I take writing seriously as part of what I do as a teacher.

Dr. Johnson González is currently working on an anthology of essays about Richard Rodriguez, a controversial Mexican-American writer, who has written works like Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, and Brown.

Dr. Johnson González’s work goes hand-in-hand with the objectives of our American Studies program, which endeavors to examine the full breadth and diversity of American experiences and histories. He believes that, especially at this time in American history where the US is so powerful in a global sense, it is important for us to have an historically informed, critical relationship to American culture. Given that there are so many myths that circulate all the time, with real authority, in American public life, on television, and in political speeches, we need to have the ability to critique this information. Is it true? If so, what are the contexts under which this truth operates? If not, why is this information presented to the American people?

I think American Studies is important because it gives students a grounding in a variety of things all at the same time. It gives people access to cultural theory, a diverse understanding of American history and of the different groups that have contributed to this history. Those are already quite powerful things, to have both sophisticated theoretical models for thinking about culture and power, and an inclusive narrative about the diversity of the United States.

Dr. Marcy Dinius, Associate Professor in the English Department, engages in literary research emerging from the intersections of African American literature and visual culture in the 19th century. She is originally from the West Coast and went to high school in the Los Angeles suburbs, but has lived in the Midwest for most of her life. She completed her undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, and felt most at home in their rigorous English Department.

Her first book, The Camera and the Press American Visual and Print Culture in the Age of the Daguerreotype, expanded from her dissertation, focuses on the relationship between photography and 19th century literature. Daguerreotype is one of the earliest forms of photography; the image is imprinted on a silvered copper plate. Her book provides new perspectives on texts like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, Herman Melville's Pierre, Harriet Beecher Stow-e's Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Frederick Douglass's The Heroic Slave by looking at the ways in which the authors deliberately selected certain visuals to promote different ways of seeing and understanding.

Dr. Dinius is currently working on a new book, which she hopes to finish this year, on David Walker’s Appeal, a radical anti-slavery pamphlet that was first published in 1829. She is looking at the history and outsized effect of this 94 page-long and self-published text. Dr. Dinius is also writing an article titled, “‘I go to Liberia’: Following Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the Destination of Its Black Characters,” that will be published in The Transnational Histories of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by University of Michigan Press in 2017. This article analyzes slavery and the question of race in 19th century U.S. by looking at African literature that was published by Americans who had immigrated to parts of Africa.

She is currently teaching an undergraduate and graduate course ENG 382/464: Major Authors, focusing on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Winter and Spring Quarters she will be teaching ENG 361: Introduction to American Literature from 1830-1865 with a focus on slavery, race, and gender. They start by reading Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” a short story about a man who sleeps through the American Revolution. They also read Frederick Douglass’s narrative, Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and some Nathaniel Hawthorne stories that dramatize class and social difference. Both of these courses can fulfill American Studies requirements. In Winter and Spring Quarters, Dr. Dinius will also be teaching LSP 200 – Multi-cultural Seminar.

Dr. Dinius describes the goals and strategies of all of her classes as follows:

I want to get students engaged. What is the point of contact? What are the things I can use to make students really pay attention and think that this matters? I will try different strategies for that. Sometimes it’s through close reading and picking small moments of a novel. Then I try to tie the moment to a big question like a social issue or philosophical question. How do we start small and reach higher stakes? It’s not just about making this move but about having them make the move themselves. I want to help students find a way in and not just have a passive experience of materials they’re engaging with. So I always recommend AMS to students, especially students in my classes, because it’s inevitable that we’re going to talk about literature through history and literature through the rest of culture too. It’s never in isolation. So I say, “hey, if you like this, this is what happens all the time in American Studies. It is always comparative.