Humanistic Studies


HMST Professor Ruth E. Toulson is at the University of Bath, England, to share her research on death and dying in Singapore. The conference, Death, Dying and Disposal, brings together scholars from more than 30 countries. 

Read more about the conference here:

Ruth is pictured here with Professor Tamara Kohn, University of Melbourne, Australia, part of the Death Tech research group.

You can reach Ruth at 

Professor and author Mikita Brottman has been shortlisted for the ALCS Gold Dagger Award for Non Fiction for her most recent book “An Unexplained Death” published by Canongate books. The winner will be announced on October 24th in London. If you haven't read the book, find it here: and more info on the awards here:

Dr. Mel Lewis (she/her/they/them) is thrilled to join the Humanistic Studies faculty at MICA! Originally from Bayou La Batre, on the Alabama Gulf Coast, Dr. Mel has called Baltimore home for almost twenty years and comes to MICA from nearby Goucher College where their roles included Associate Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (WGS) and Africana Studies (AFR) and Director of the Center for Geographies of Justice. Previously, Dr. Mel was Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California.   Dr. Mel’s recent publications and research include, “Communicating Variations of Blackness: An Intersectional Trans and Intersex Africana Studies Perspective” (Communication Teacher 2018), “Transcending the Acronym, Traversing Gender: A Conversation in the Margins of the Margins” (Women and Language 2019), and their forthcoming book project, Femme Query: Politics, Pleasure, and Queer of Color Pedagogies, engaging queer social justice educators, activists, cultural workers, and artists who articulate the power and possibility of femme liberatory praxis. Dr. Mel serves on the Baltimore Mayor’s LGBTQ Commission as member of the Education Committee and the Baltimore Public Library Enoch Pratt LGBTQ advisory board. Dr. Mel completed their M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies in the subject area of Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities at the University of Maryland, College Park. They hold an M.S. in Women and Gender Studies with a Public Policy concentration from Towson University and a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Goucher College.   This semester they are teaching LIT 368 Queer Literature and Theory and LIT 330 Trans/feminism. Their office hours this semester are Tuesdays 12-1pm and Wednesdays 3-4pm in B427. Dr. Mel can be reached via email:

Welcome back to our returning students! And so nice to meet you to our new first year students! We are looking forward to an outstanding fall semester with you. Be sure to take some time to find your professors' offices and mark your calendars join our department on September 4th next week for 4U on the 4th, a Liberal Arts/Wellness event. 

Joe Basile, long time faculty member in Art History, Theory, and Criticism,  as well as most recently the former Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, passed away in June 2019, after a year long course of treatment for a brain tumor. The college plans for a memorial service in the near future. More information on this memorial will follow as it becomes available. 

From his obituary:  On June 15, 2019, Joseph John Basile, beloved husband of Monica Sylvester and devoted father of Nicholas Basile and Emma Basile, passed away following nearly a year of treatment for a brain tumor. Joe is survived by his wife, children, mother Lisa Basile and brother John (Lisa) Basile. He was a dear son in law of Daniel & Mary Sylvester, and brother in law of Janine (Scott) Lill, Susanne (Christopher) Falcone and Joseph (Lindsey) Sylvester. He will be missed by his nieces and nephews, Brian Lill, Michael Falcone, Samantha Lill, Robby Basile, Mia Falcone, Sara Basile and Matthew Falcone. Joe was preceded in death by his father Joseph Basile.

Joe was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Our Lady of Angels School and was a 1983 graduate of Xavarian High School in Brooklyn. Joe graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University with a degree in Archaeological Studies in 1987. He completed his Doctorate in Old World Archaeology and Art from Brown University in 1992. Joe has been a professor of Art History at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) since 1994. He served as Associate Dean of Liberal Art from 2011 to 2018. Joe acted as the Associate Director of the Brown University excavations of the Great Temple at Petra Jordan. He also excavated sites in Corfu, Greece, Rome, and Cetamura, Italy. 

Joe enjoyed traveling and, with his family, visited London, Paris, Florence, Rome, Budapest, Cairo, Amman, Istanbul and last summer San Francisco. He also enjoyed cooking, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen, collecting flags, visiting museums, Pokémon Go, and rooting for New York sport teams.

Most of all Joe loved and was loved by his family. He was dedicated to his children. He always supported and celebrated their interests and accomplishments. He will be dearly missed.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at St. Mary of the Assumption, 5502 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212. Visitation will precede the mass at the church from 10:00 am.-11:00 am. An account has been created for the education of his children and donations may be made in lieu of flowers to the Joseph Basile Childrens Fund, c/o Sun East Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 2231, Aston, PA 19014.!/Obituary

The Humanistic Studies department is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Ginsburg Prize for Poetry,  Sarah Purnell, '19. 

Department faculty member judge, Elizabeth Wagenheim, said of Sarah’s poems that they, “…are driven by internal rhyme and steer the reader through the mundane of the every day to fresh unexpected imagery.”

Sarah’s writing and drawings explore identity, and the ways we navigate social order, relationship dynamics, and psychological spaces. After graduating from the General Fine Arts program, she intends to develop her studio practice and pursue a career in curatorial studies. Please follow Sarah’s work on Instagram at @a_sentimental_lady or

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