Student Spotlight: Christine Rosenfeld Defends her Dissertation

Student Spotlight: Christine Rosenfeld Defends her Dissertation

Christine Rosenfeld successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Terrains of Occupation and De-Occupation: Stewardship, Recognition, and Cultural Politics in the Saddle Region of Hawai`i Island" and worked with Prof. Paul Smith, Prof. Craig Willse and Prof. Johanna BockmanEsma Celebioglu conducted a short exchange with Christine in which she reflects on her time at Mason.


How have your research interests changed from the time you began the PhD program to now, and in which direction do you envision your work moving upon graduating?

I came in with the intention of studying something to do with the historical and contemporary relationship between Hawai`i and the mainland US and I did stick with that focus, although I got out of my comfort zone of only evaluating historical landscapes and jumped into the present by evaluating the current struggle over the landscape of the Saddle. As I move forward with my research, one direction I intend to follow is in analyzing with precision the differences between various iterations of colonialism, specifically occupation and settler colonialism.


What kinds of professional development did you pursue while a student and which do you think will best position you to get the job you want: publishing, presenting, teaching, service in the department, engagement in non-university service projects, acquiring particular research skills?

I engaged in professional development opportunities that I genuinely enjoyed and that would help convey the breadth and depth of my knowledge and experience. I think that being able to display versatility with an array of knowledge, teaching experience, and research skills is key for my next step. Doing things like taking courses in qualitative research, thematic coding, and even attending library workshops about ArcGIS mapping and practicing my ability to produce descriptive statistics out of coded data allows me to speak to many audiences and display my versatility and command over material.

The internship at the Smithsonian that I completed the summer after my first year has been very fruitful in getting me connected with people in museum studies, archival work, and also led to a collaborative research project which gave me early experience in planning and conducting research. That experience directly led to me serving as co-special guest editor (and single-author and multiple-author contributor) for the journal Collections. This taught me about the journal writing and editing process. More recently, I became a peer reviewer for the Journal of Mason Graduate Research, which has rounded out my knowledge of the journal publishing process. Serving as web editor for the Cultural Studies Program website and participating in various committees has given me a feel for aspects of higher education that fall outside of teaching and research responsibilities. I hope that my contributions in these areas convey that I am committed to serving my home department/program and institution.

Along the same lines of engaging in professional development that conveys depth and breadth of knowledge, I have picked up teaching experience along the way at various institutions, departments, undergraduate levels, and platforms (online and on-ground), which I think will and already is helping me showcase my passion for and flexibility regarding teaching. Developing a comprehensive teaching portfolio showcasing learning materials, online learning modules, and effectiveness metrics and student quotes during the time you are teaching will help a lot when it comes time for job applications.


What is one of your best memories from your time in the PhD program in Cultural Studies?

I’ve absolutely got to pay homage to my cohort and our foundational experience with Dr. Alison Landsberg in CULT 802. I feel like as a cohort we came to a very natural and unspoken understanding that we were all in this together and we were not here to show off to one another, but rather, we were here to support each other and learn from one another as colleagues and friends. That experience really set me up for a comfortable, fun, and productive graduate experience.

And so many more! Like accountability check ins remotely and in-person with my colleagues, supportive meet-ups, and celebrating my defense! I’m happy to say that the list really does go on…