Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Maya Hislop
Meet new faculty member Dr. Maya Hislop! Brooklyn, New York, native Hislop is a fresh face to Clemson’s English Department. Having received her undergraduate degree from Williams College in 2011, Hislop also earned a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia, specializing in 20th and 21st century American and African American literature.
Hislop is passionate about a number of causes including Black Lives Matter and Black Women’s Blueprint—an advocacy group for black female victims of violence. She has centered her research and work on considering the effects of sexual violence against women of color from enslavement to today, exploring how a history of anti-rape and anti-racist social justice movements can shape readings of novels which center around the same themes. Hislop is also a strong supporter of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance advocate groups for alternatives to the prison industrial complex, Black Youth Project 100, abortion rights, trans rights, and workers’ rights. With these passions igniting her love for teaching, Hislop is most looking forward to teaching “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her American Literature II Survey class this year. While she has never taught this book before, she finds herself discovering new meaning that is worthy of deep contemplation each time she reads it. Hislop is excited to see what her students think of “Americanah” and is looking forward to the questions around the issues of race as it relates to a national identity presented in the book
Hislop noted that she is unable to name a piece of literature that has had the most profound impact on her life because many different books have shaped her. Hislop mentioned Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” as being one of the first novels to profoundly impact her as she found herself feeling deeply about a character that was so distanced from her in terms of space and time. While “Grapes of Wrath” and “The Sound and the Fury” have also impacted Hislop, she found herself enthralled with “The Autobiography of My Mother” by Jamaica Kincaid in graduate school. Since reading Kincaid, Hislop notes it as one of her favorite books as she realized that she was angry that she had never read the artfully crafted prose hidden away in the book until then. In addition to these favorite works of literature, Hislop regularly enjoys reading American Quarterly, Signs, and Callaloo.
As a young girl, Hislop never imagined herself as an English professor. While she dreamt of being a professional gymnast or figure skater, Hislop always knew that she loved school and preparing for her classes through reading. During her sophomore year at Williams College, Hislop was accepted into the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is aimed at diversifying the professoriate; it gives underrepresented groups an opportunity to work with a mentor to create their own research project and learn about the ins and outs of undergraduate study. With this fellowship, Hislop worked with her mentor, John Limon, to curate an independent research project about representations of mixed-race female characters in black women’s writing. The fellowship also led her to become about being a black professor. Having never had a black person teach her literature in college, she knew that she wanted to provide students with a sense of self-love and self-knowledge as inspired by Ms. Jackie, one of her favorite elementary school teachers. Keeping these goals in mind, Hislop finds teaching black literature and art to be one of the most crucial gateways in understanding the past, present, and future.
Hislop centers herself around the personal motto, “I want to give as much energy as I take.” Kimberly Love, a dear friend of Hislop’s and a Professor of English at Williams College, gave her this piece of advice that she often reminds herself. Additionally, she is inspired by the giggles of her nephews, Hautey Joaquin Hislop, aged three, and Junot Alexie Hislop, aged four months. Hislop has loved getting to know both the English Department faculty and students as she has started working here this fall. She is thankful that the faculty have welcomed her by providing a supportive environment and has enjoyed getting to know Clemson students through teaching. Hislop enjoys stand-up and improv comedy, rom-coms, and podcasts.
Written By: Cameron Gaubert