Appointment of Dr. Myriam J.A. Chancy, HBA Chair in the Humanities

Posted: May 20, 2015

Dear members of the Scripps College community,

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Myriam J. A. Chancy to the Hartley Burr Alexander Chair in the Humanities at Scripps College as a professor with tenure in the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies.

This esteemed professorship is a tenured faculty member at the rank of full professor granted to distinguished scholars with an outstanding record of scholarship and undergraduate teaching. A selection committee chaired by Andrew Jacobs, professor of religious studies, and including Andrew Aisenberg, professor of history; David Roselli, associate professor of classics and the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Endowed Chair for the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities; T. Kim-Trang Tran, professor of art; and Rivka Weinberg, associate professor of philosophy, most strongly endorsed Dr. Chancy. The committee was enormously impressed with the range of her intellectual endeavors (both in terms of the materials she studies and the theoretical sophistication she brings to them). I appreciate their diligent efforts, which resulted in naming such an eminent candidate.

As Professor Jacobs noted, “During her campus visit, Dr. Chancy impressed faculty and students with her ability to speak across multiple disciplines in multiple contexts, to connect with colleagues and students in diverse, interdisciplinary arenas: humanities, social sciences, and fine arts especially. Dr. Chancy will bring intellectual breadth, scholarly distinction, and new leadership to the HBA Chair.”

Dr. Chancy obtained her BA in English/philosophy from the University of Manitoba in 1989, her MA in English literature from Dalhousie University the following year, and in 1994, she completed her PhD in English at the University of Iowa.   Dr. Chancy was awarded early tenure on the basis of two influential books of literary criticism published in the same calendar year, Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (Rutgers UP, 1997) and Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile (Temple UP, 1997). As the first book-length study of its kind in English, Framing Silence was instrumental in inaugurating Haitian women’s studies as a contemporary field of specialization. She subsequently has published a third critical book, From Sugar to Revolution: Women’s Visions of Haiti, Cuba & the Dominican Republic (WLUP 2012).  Also a novelist, Dr. Chancy has published three novels: Spirit of Haiti (Mango Press 2003), The Scorpion’s Claw (Peepal Tree Press 2005) and The Loneliness of Angels (Peepal Tree Press 2010).

Dr. Chancy’s writings have garnered numerous literary awards, including an Outstanding Academic Book Award from Choice, the journal of the American Library Association, the Guyana Prize for Literature, and the Phoenix Award for Editorial Achievement by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ). She is currently at work on an academic monograph focusing on Black subjectivities intra-diasporically, and a fourth novel addressing the negotiation of national and individual traumas in Haiti, Rwanda, and the U.S. In April 2014, she was made a fellow at the Guggenheim Foundation.

Dr. Chancy previously held tenure-track positions at Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Cincinnati, and visiting professorships at Smith College and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).


A frequently invited guest speaker nationally and internationally, Dr. Chancy delivers talks and creative readings on Caribbean, Haitian, and social justice issues, and she has served as an expert panelist and reviewer for the NEH and the Prince Claus Fund. She continues to serve as an expert reviewer for numerous national professional journals, university presses, and tenure/promotion reviews. A recent editorial advisory board member of PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association of America, and the Fetzer Institute’s Advisory Council on the Humanities, Dr. Chancy also sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Haitian Studies at UCSB, and the advisory board of Voices From Our America, housed at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Chancy will officially join us in spring 2016 after a fall 2015 much-earned sabbatical.  During spring 2016, she will participate in the Core 1 planning cycle and teach a Core 2 or an elective course.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Chancy and welcoming her to her new role at Scripps. We look forward to benefiting from her teaching, scholarship, experience, and perspective. She will be a tremendous addition to the Scripps community.


Lori Bettison-Varga




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