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PhD Student Granted Access to Dominican Studies Archives

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Raquel Corona ‘20Ph.D. first applied for a CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) Archives and Library Research Award in 2016 without success, but after some mentoring from Assistant Professor of English Raj Chetty, Ph.D, she was one of ten scholars selected for the 2017 awards. Said Corona: “We had a long talk about how to present myself as a candidate” and meet CUNY DSI’s selection criteria, which included relevance of the proposed project to the library’s unique holdings, novelty and scholarly significance of the project, and the applicant’s overall qualifications.

“Receiving the DSI grant is a testament to Raquel’s commitment to scholarship that matters to historically underrepresented communities, which in the case of her particular research project are Dominicanas and Latinas in the United States,” said Chetty. “This grant situates Raquel’s work alongside a growing—in number and in importance—cohort of young Dominican and Dominican-American scholars, activists, and artists working in the U.S.”

The award will allow Corona to access CUNY DSI’s unique archives and library resources for two consecutive weeks of her choosing between June 5 and December 15, 2017. The grant also provides $3,000 to defray research costs. In exchange, she must submit a brief report on her experience in the archives and make recommendations to CUNY DSI for improving its holdings, financial security, visibility, programs, and personnel. She must also acknowledge the support of CUNY DSI in any publications resulting from her research in the archives.

The library holds of one the most expansive collections of materials related to Dominican Studies in the United States, including more than 5,000 volumes and a sizable collection of rare and first editions. CUNY DSI’s archives also include personal papers, art pieces, video footage, and music scores.

Corona has just finished her coursework in the English Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program and is beginning to research a dissertation that broadly engages Dominican women’s autoethnography and storytelling about the body. She became interested in the rhetoric of storytelling after taking a graduate seminar, Comparative Rhetoric: Re-Presenting the Other, taught by LuMing Mao, Ph.D., the 2016 Peter P. and Margaret A. D’Angelo Chair in the Humanities, in spring 2016. Said Corona: “I became interested in how stories travel and how values shift through storytelling. I’m especially interested in Dominican stories about women’s bodies and their impact on first-generation Dominican American women.”

She will especially make use of the library’s Dominican Feminism collection and hopes to generate an article from her research there. “I’ll have more of a sense of where I’ll go with my dissertation after this experience, and perhaps I’ll get a chapter out of it or conceptualize a partially archival dissertation project for myself,” said Corona. She was first exposed to archival projects in literary studies in the spring 2017 semester through Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Ph.D.’s Topics of Theory course, which focused on critical race theory. “It really enlarged my ideas of what I could include and discuss as a scholar of texts,” said Corona. “I thought, wow!

Corona, who holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University and an M.A. in English from Binghamton University, came to SJU after working as an advisor and program coordinator at Queensborough Community College (QCC), where she also taught English as an adjunct professor for several years. “Once I got up in front of a classroom,” she said, “I thought, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’”

She searched for a doctoral program that would allow her to balance teaching and research, as well as her interests in creative writing, a search that led to her becoming a doctoral fellow in SJU’s Institute for Writing Studies (IWS). “I heard about the writing center at St. John’s and how there was a different way of teaching writing here and a flexibility in terms of what you study for your dissertation, and it seemed like the right fit.”

Her ability to secure a competitive research grant and contribute to the English department’s rigorous standards of teaching and pedagogy make Corona as much of an excellent fit for St. John’s as it has been for her. The CUNY DSI grant will provide new opportunities for her continued success.