Dr. Ann Mattis, English Professor at UW-Sheboygan, was recently awarded a fellowship from The Center for 21st Century Studies (C21), one of the oldest humanities institutes in the United States. Mattis, along with five UW-Milwaukee scholars, have been researching this year’s theme of Naysaying,
studying the concept of “No” from a variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary perspectives. The fellowship year will culminate at C21s annual conference, to be held April 27-29 at UW-Milwaukee. Titled “The Big No,”
the Conference features over three dozen speakers spread across a dozen breakout sessions, and is free and open to the public. The UW System of Excellence, located on the UW-Milwaukee campus, focuses on the intersection of academic disciplines with issues of compelling concern. Their goal is to contribute to C21’s mission to “imagine, define and create the emergent field of 21st century studies.”
Mattis, who grew up in Chicago, completed a Ph.D. in English from Loyola University. Her classes at UW-Sheboygan include American Literature and Women’s Studies and she is able to link her research titled, “Naysaying and Feminist Counterpublics in U.S. Culture,” back to what she is teaching in the classroom.
Her fellowship project also has her examining female comedians to determine what role women play in comedy and politics. Popular female comedians in the U.S, according to Mattis, have included Mae West, Lucille Ball, Roseann Barr and Amy Schumer. She looks into what “shifted in culture to allow for the changes
in comedy.” Comedian Amy Schumer’s recent stardom is a “celebrity phenomenon” and Mattis invites us to “reconsider the ways overtly feminist discourse manages to circulate in a postfeminist media landscape.” According to Mattis, “Schumer interweaves feminist ideologies into an array of comedic tropes that allow her to strike a balance between mainstream likeability and pointed political critique. This rhetorical intersection allows her to facilitate a feminist counter-public that is premised not on affective ambivalence, but intellectual dissatisfaction with normative gender arrangements.” With Schumer as her focus, Mattis will prepare a paper on “Selling Ideology: Authenticity, Likeability, and Sexuality in Contemporary Celebrity,” which she will then use to launch a book-length project on the category of likeability in contemporary culture.
Mattis, who also lectured in the Women’s Studies program at both UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University as a visiting professor, is the first UW Colleges’ professor to receive a fellowship from C21. Teaching on the UW-Sheboygan campus for five years, she greatly values “the UW Colleges’ mission of access.” She finds the interactions with students and the smaller class sizes to be “more special,” she notes that students often have a “mature attitude toward their education. She is married to English Professor, Dr. William Malcuit, who teaches at the UW-Washington County campus, and they just had a baby girl in December.
UW-Sheboygan is located at One University Drive in Sheboygan. The campus offers freshman and sophomore level classes in over 250 majors at the lowest cost in the UW System. Students appreciate the small class sizes and individual attention from dedicated faculty. For directions to the campus or more information, visit www.sheboygan.uwc.edu