Inner Lives of AMS Faculty

Tessa Lowinske Desmond

Tessa Desmond and alpaca; chicken in a pasture outside their coop

I begin teaching classes in American studies this spring. While you’ll see my course listing this term is for a course in multi-ethnic literature, my more recent academic projects have focused on food and farming, with special attention to food insecurity and migrant farmwork. What you may not know about me is that I’ve recently started a farm of my own. Farming is different than the kind of work I’ve done previously, to be sure, but I experience it as a somewhat natural extension of my intellectual interests. Writer-farmers like Wendell Berry, Will Allen, Barbara Kingsolver, and Mark Shepard, have shaped my thinking about food and have called to me from the pages of their books to join them in the fields. (I’ve always been a fan of engaged learning!)

I currently have eight alpaca, a donkey, a goose, and twenty laying hens. This spring, I’ll be adding pigs and chickens to raise for meat. I will also break ground on a quarter-acre vegetable garden and begin the patient work of planting fruit trees. My farm practice is informed by permaculture principles. Permaculture = Permanent + Agriculture and speaks to a farming practice that prioritizes perennial, food-bearing plants that do not need tilled soil and annual replanting. The practice is part of a movement in sustainable agriculture that seeks to prevent soil erosion and promote carbon sequestration. My six-acre plot is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the enormity of most farming operations but it feels good to be getting my hands dirty in search of answers to some of the pressing problems facing our food system.

Anne Cheng

Anne Painting 1
Anne Painting 2

During her sabbatical, Anne Cheng finished her new book and took up much needed art therapy....

Brian Herrera

Compassion is an action word with no boundaries — Prince
It is through art that we will prevail and we will endure — Rita Moreno
Friendship is the root of freedom — Nick Montgomery and Carla Bergman

Brian Herrera explains the “Anatomy of an ‘Acadoodle’.”

Judith Hamera

Hopi kachina dancer and a coal miner (detail)
silver pin titled “The Neighbor’s Dog”
Chewbacca doll made of Zuni beadwork
sandstone carving of the “Long Walk” of 1864