Race and Religion in the U.S.: Women Writers in Conversation

Humanities Forum Writers PanelHumanities Forum
Race and Religion in the U.S.: Women Writers in Conversation
Samiya Bashir, poet
Susan Muaddi Darraj, fiction writer
Alia Malek, journalist and author
Mejdulene B. Shomali, assistant professor of Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies (moderator)
Monday, March 4, 4 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Three award winning writers, poet Samiya Bashir, journalist and author Alia Malek, and fiction writer Susan Muaddi Darraj will perform short excerpts of their work. After the performance, they will join Dr. Mejdulene B. Shomali for a moderated conversation on writing, gender, race, and religion in the U.S. During the conversation, writers will discuss the useful and dangerous ways racial, ethnic, and religious identities do and do not overlap; how race, gender, and religion inform the writing and reception of their work; and how they use genre and form to navigate cultural expectations for their writing, especially when those expectations are tied to their perceived or real identities.

A book signing and reception will follow the program.

Samiya Bashir is the author of three books of poetry: Field Theories, Gospel, and Where the Apple Falls. Sometimes she makes poems of dirt. Sometimes zeros and ones. Sometimes variously rendered text. Sometimes light. Her work has been widely published, performed, installed, printed, screened, and experienced. Bashir holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Poet Laureate, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she received two Hopwood Poetry Awards. Bashir lives in Portland, Oregon where she teaches at Reed College.

Susan Muaddi Darraj‘s short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. In 2018, United States Artists awarded her a Ford Fellowship for creative writing. She is Associate Professor of English at Harford Community College, and she also teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University.

Alia Malek is a journalist and former civil rights lawyer. She is the author of The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria and A Country Called Amreeka: US History Re-Told Through Arab American Lives. She is the editor of Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustices and EUROPA أوروپا : An Illustrated Introduction to Europe for Migrants and Refugees. Her reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, NewYorker.com, The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, Jadaliyya, McSweeney’s, Guernica and other publications.

Mejdulene B. Shomali is a Palestinian-American poet and assistant professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies at UMBC. She received a PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2015 and an MA in Women’s Studies from the Ohio State University in 2009. Her creative and scholarly work centers on femininity, queerness, and Arab cultural production in a transnational perspective. Her academic monograph in progress, Moving Femininities: Queer Critique and Transnational Arab Culture, underscores femininity and sexuality as sites for cultural and political negotiation for Arabs, immigrant and indigenous.


Plan Your Visit
UMBC is located about 10 minutes south of the Inner Harbor along I-95. For this event, visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage, next to the Library — please click here for additional information.


UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. If you would like to request accommodations (e.g., ASL interpreters, captioning, wheelchair access, etc.) for this event due to a disability, please notify us at least two weeks prior to the event. Requests received after that time cannot be guaranteed, but we will do our best to make arrangements for program access. Please contact us at dreshercenter@umbc.edu with your specific request and be sure to include the event title, date, and time.


Sponsored by Office of the Provost; the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Department of Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies; the Language, Literacy, and Culture Program; the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; the Department of Media and Communication Studies; the Department of English; and the Women’s Center.

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