Assistant Professor of English Dr. Ria Banerjee has been awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The Summer Stipend supports the completion of Dr. Banerjee’s book Drafty Houses: Modernist Fiction and Spatiality, looking at the work of E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot.
Drafty Houses focuses on literary settings, and studies how three well-known British authors used descriptions of space and place in their works to comment on modern social organization and nationhood in England in the 1920s-1940s. As Dr. Banerjee states, “This book offers another way that scholars of modernism can understand the political significance of literary spatiality in the work of authors who are foundational to the field and in our classrooms.”
Dr. Banerjee has “a personal and professional commitment to advance social justice and civic engagement,” and Drafty Houses “is a scholarly treatment of what every minority individual knows: that spatial arrangements create physical and metaphysical comfort for new participants in any space.” Her research is informed by Guttman’s research-based pedagogy that promotes students’ emotional and intellectual growth and her research has benefitted from student responses to works by these authors.
The NEH grant will allow Dr. Banerjee to finish her book, and disseminate her ideas to professional and non-academic audiences. She is also looking forward to applying her insights in the classroom.
Dr. Banerjee teaches writing and courses in twentieth century literature, poetry, and drama at Guttman Community College. This Spring, she and her students are making their way through E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India in a topical course, “Colonialism in the Twentieth Century.” Her areas of research interest include modernist literature and culture and film studies, particularly film noir. Banerjee received her PhD from the Graduate Center, CUNY in 2014 and currently serves as a Program Coordinator for the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Guttman.
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College is CUNY’s first new community college since 1971. Planning began in 2008; Scott Evenbeck, the founding president, was appointed in January 2011, and the College opened its doors to an inaugural class of 289 students on August 20, 2012. Guttman offers associate degree programs in an innovative model emphasizing experiential education, learning communities and instructional teams, and a commitment to providing rigorous academic challenge, attentive support, and inclusive excellence. Guttman is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with a current enrollment of 1,030 students (as of Fall 2019). Guttman was ranked as the best community college in America for 2020 by Niche.com.