This week we’ll meet one of our newest faculty members, Emily Brennan-Moran. Dr. Brennan-Moran came to Mason during the pandemic in Fall 2020 and has not had the opportunity to teach on campus, something she is looking forward to doing! When she first moved to the area last summer, the campus was empty because of the pandemic. One of the first things she noticed, in the absence of the hustle and bustle of students, was “all of Mason’s beautiful green space. I love the wildflowers, the trees, and the little streams around campus.”
Brennan-Moran’s academic background is varied, having earned a BA in Religion from Emory University, an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Central Florida, and a PhD in Communication from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). When asked about her academic choices, she said that “the common thread between my undergraduate study of religion and my current research on collective memory is that I have always been interested in how communities of people make meaning together.” While an undergraduate student, she focused on biblical studies. This animates her current critical/cultural studies work in Communication. She stated that her primary drive is to discover “How does who we believe we’ve been set the stage for who we hope to become?”
She feels fortunate to continue her research as a new faculty and looks forward to continuing to discover more about “the ethical and political ends of remembering — how thinking critically about our collective relationship to the past might help us to create better futures.” Brennan-Moran has published two articles in performance studies journals and is currently working on her first book, which is about the place of the proper name in memorializing the dead. She is excited about this project because it tries to take a closer look at a fairly common commemorative practice: listing proper names of the dead. The name is often taken as a “commemorative end” in contemporary memorialization, and this project instead reframes the name as a critical beginning, one that allows us to think about the ethics of remembering the dead.
Currently, she teaches three different undergraduate classes: COMM 200, COMM 300, and COMM 454. One of her favorite things about teaching any of these classes is “watching students make connections between the theories we’re learning in the classroom and real-world issues or questions.”
When not writing a book, researching articles, or preparing for classes, you can find Brennan-Moran outside. She says she loves being outside, although she was not a big fan of the 17-year cycle of Brood X cicadas this spring. While outside, she enjoys exercising, reading, and dining with friends. As a native Floridian, she is happiest when being outside means being near the ocean!
As a recent graduate herself, she has some excellent advice for graduating students stating, “You don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life on graduation day. I remember feeling so uncertain when I finished my undergraduate degree. Today, things aren’t exactly how I imagined they’d be ten years down the line—they’re better. I’d tell my graduating self to trust her instincts and enjoy the journey.”
June 18, 2021