We here at KSU’s Master of Arts in American Studies program (MAST) are pleased to introduce you to our new program director, Dr. Stacy Keltner, who comes to us from our department’s Gender & Women’s Studies program (GWST), with which she’s been involved since its inception in 2007. Dr. Keltner is a first-generation college graduate from the Nashville area, who double-majored in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Evansville in Indiana. There she received, as she says, “all the individualized attention and loving care a student could ever hope for in two different departments,” and that’s exactly what she plans to bring to our MAST program.
Later, Dr. Keltner attended graduate school at the University of Memphis (UM), studying philosophy and focusing on social, cultural, and political theory. At the time, UM was one of the only philosophy programs in the country emphasizing feminist and critical race theory from American, European, and postcolonial theoretical traditions and contexts. This had a profound effect on Dr. Keltner’s research interests, and it is only part of why we’re excited for what she’ll bring to the MAST program.
Dr. Keltner came to KSU in 2005, joining the History & Philosophy Department, but she switched to Interdisciplinary Studies (ISD) when it first began forming in 2007. At that point, she became co-founder and the first program coordinator for our GWST program. More recently, Dr. Keltner has started her first term as President of the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA), the largest and most active regional organization in the field.
Dr. Keltner has published widely in social and political theory, continental philosophy, and feminist theory. She has two books on French cultural theorist Julia Kristeva: a monograph, Kristeva: Thresholds (Polity Press, 2011), and a co-edited volume, Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics, and Politics in the Work of Kristeva (SUNY Press, 2009). Her work has appeared in Proceedings of the Modern Language Association, Philosophy Today, and Continental Philosophy Review, as well as in broad reach venues like CounterPunch and Common Dreams. She is currently finalizing an edited collection of key writings on love and sex for Kendall-Hunt, Love and Sex: A Primer, which will appear this fall; re-launching a public scholarship project online called Engage This! A Toolbox for Changemakers (August 2020); and co-writing a book on nudity, the body, and activism with former MAST student and current GWST instructor Ashley McFarland.
When asked about transitioning from GWST leadership to MAST, Dr. Keltner is optimistic: “I’m excited and have a lot of ideas about collaboration, mentoring, program building, and recruitment that I want to try out,” she says. In thinking about the university’s mission to transition into an R2 school, she emphasizes the value of our department’s work:
I think it is very important for American Studies to be at the table for the college- and university-level discussions of what graduate programming is going to look like. That said, many of our long-held values are the ones being emphasized – interdisciplinarity, engagement, diversity, culture. We just have to make sure we are part of the dialogue that determines their meaning.
Dr. Keltner is confident that she can bring our values to the forefront of the dialogue about graduate education at KSU with the administration, and as she notes above, our values of interdisciplinarity and engagement are at the heart of KSU’s new mission. We need someone, like Dr. Keltner herself, to communicate our mission, as our professors and students are already doing the kind of work the administration is emphasizing. In many ways, our MAST program is on the cutting edge of research and graduate studies at KSU and beyond, and in Dr. Keltner, we find a new spokesperson for the important role we have to play in the university’s future.
Dr. Keltner describes her leadership style as “[c]ollaborative, democratic, creative, integrative.” Furthermore, she notes that “[she likes] finding creative solutions to problems and ways forward that engage current and new constituents in building structures, processes, and spaces that strengthen our communities.” She comes to us ready to put into place a new short-term, three-year vision to “launch a specialized online graduate certificate, graduating 12-15 M.A. students each year, and [be] more connected to various communities and initiatives throughout the university and the metro region.”
Dr. Keltner is most assured of the quality of MAST’s content, and she is excited to begin her work as Director of MAST on July 1, 2020. As she says, “Everyone wants to learn more and talk about the cultural, social, and political phenomena of the Americas.” Hear, hear!
Welcome, Dr. Keltner! We look forward to working with you!
Scroll below for an exclusive “Inside the Professor’s Office” with Dr. Keltner!
Exclusive: Inside the Professor’s Office with Dr. Stacy Keltner
Based on Bernard Pivot’s Adapted Use of Proust’s Questionnaire
What is your favorite word?
All of them. I love words, especially those moments when they return us to their joy and novelty — when you read an author and are struck by how many words continue to flow in describing a single thing or when you catch yourself speaking or writing and are surprised the words are erupting. I probably experienced this most when my children began emerging as little speakers themselves. I love it when words succeed in pulling you down deep into their joy and novelty.
What is your least favorite word?
All of them when they refuse to come, leaving you cold and exposed.
What excites you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Really good writing.
What doesn’t excite you?
Really bad writing.
What is your favorite curse word?
Curses! (My daughter picked this up somewhere recently, and it is hilarious).
What sound or noise do you love?
Birdsong or laughter, can’t decide
What sound or noise do you hate?
That incessant hum (of machines, the highway, my brain) blocking out the sounds I like.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Great American novelist – I launched my career as a failed novelist when I was a teenager.
What profession would you not like to do?
Marketing – which seems to have swallowed our jobs whole.
If an ultimate “God” exists, what would you like to hear her say when it is your time?