~ Compiled by Jefferson Beavers
The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State encompasses nine departments, and the Armenian Studies Program. Each year, new faculty are brought on to elevate the academic offerings here at Fresno State. These new faculty members bring innovative research, diverse fields of study, and technical expertise to our college, inspiring fresh ways of thinking throughout our many disciplines.
We are excited to welcome Dr. Jenny Krichevsky to the Department of English. Krichevsky is a specialist in rhetoric and writing studies. She holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research looks at the ways in which immigrant families transmit literacy and language values across space and time, through generations and geopolitical boundaries.
As an Assistant Professor in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Program, she specializes in literacy studies, multilingual writing, language diversity, cultural rhetorics, Writing Across the Curriculum, and STEM Writing in the Disciplines. Her pedagogy is rooted in centering the questions and experiences students bring into the classroom, and supporting students in wherever and however they choose their writing trajectories to go.
In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Krichevsky coordinates Fresno State’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, which supports faculty campus-wide in the teaching of writing across all disciplines.
What are you most looking forward to, teaching at Fresno State?
Without a doubt, I am most looking forward to meeting our students. When I was on campus this past January, during the days of seeing people in person, I was lucky enough to meet both graduate and undergraduate students, and I was blown away by their passion, generosity, and sense of care for each other.
What are your teaching specialties? How did you become involved with those areas?
I specialize in literacy studies broadly, with a focus in multilingual writing and language diversity. I also work in cultural rhetorics, Writing Across the Curriculum, and STEM Writing in the Disciplines.
My research interests always come back to the stories people tell each other to survive. I am especially invested in the stories of multilingual and immigrant families and the ways in which people use different kinds of literacies — oral, written, material, etc. — to connect to each other and create meaning in transnational contexts.
My own family history is an immigrant one. My grandparents, parents and I immigrated together twice, first to Israel from the former USSR, then to the United States. In each country we have lived in, we lost and gained language, adjusted and readjusted to new cultural contexts, and recalibrated literacy skills to make it work in unwelcoming and welcoming landscapes. So, the research questions of my current project — how families pass literacy practices down through generations and immigrations — are personal questions, too.
I would like to follow this research in my second project by exploring connections between multilingual literacies and citizenship, particularly how language racialization functions within certain transnational literacy communities in the United States.
How do you hope your background will elevate the English Department’s offerings at Fresno State?
My teaching and research motivate me to advocate for equitable pedagogical practices that support multilingual writers. I love learning more and more about how language diversity thrives in the Central Valley, despite the ways in which monolingual ideologies are enforced and empowered through systems in our society. That is one of the most thrilling parts of moving to this area for me.
In the spring, I will be teaching and working with pre-service English teachers, and I hope that by looking at the systems of power associated with language, my students and I can explore teaching practices that resist the instinct to look for lack, and rather support students’ full literacy experiences.
As the new coordinator of the university’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, what are your hopes for undergraduate writers?
As the WAC coordinator at Fresno State, I will have the privilege of working with faculty across the university and learning about the ways in which they value and describe writing. Still, I do hope to get a sense of the writing experience on campus from the undergraduate students’ perspectives as well. My hope is that the resources offered by WAC, which would be informed by undergraduate students’ needs, will continue to develop the collaborative networks between faculty members across all disciplines on campus.
At the heart of it, undergraduate writing in college should cultivate not just an understanding of “what” — as in, “What do I write in my field?” — but “how” — as in, “How do I use writing to connect with others in my community, to understand something better, to create knowledge and make meaning?”
What are you reading right now?
This very moment, I am reading the novel Dessa Rose by the late Sherley Anne Williams. I joined a Fresno Writers-themed reading group put together by my colleagues in the English Department. I can’t wait to learn more about this writer, who is such an integral part of Fresno’s literary history.
What is a book you think everyone should read, and why?
This is an impossible question for an English major person! So, I will cheat and name two books.
First, Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. I read this book in 2010, very early graduate school days, and it has shaped my view of the classroom as a space for “collective effort” ever since. If you are going into teaching, or even just considering it, this is a must-read.
Second, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This novel makes me want to teach a literature class just so I could talk about it with students. It’s a family saga that tells the story of how the linked members of one family interact with the legacy of slavery. It is a crucial and breathtaking novel.
What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?
I love trying to pick up new skills, even when I know I’ll be bad at it.
I don’t really play instruments, but I got a ukulele for my birthday, and so far, I can “only” play the first bar of Here Comes the Bride, for no other reason than it was easy to learn. You’ve got to start somewhere.
I also tried my hand at sourdough, like every other quarantined person on Instagram, and … well, let’s just say I left that skill behind in Massachusetts.
What are your fall 2020 virtual office hours?
From 1 to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays!