Founder and Director, Franco-American Women’s Institute

she/her/elle

Rhea Côté Robbins was brought up bilingually in a Franco-American neighborhood in Waterville known as the South End. Côté Robbins is the author of creative nonfiction, memoirs titled, ‘down the Plains,’ and Wednesday’s Child, winner of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Chapbook Award.

She is editor of Canuck and Other Stories, an anthology of translations of early 20th century Franco-American women writers who wrote about their immigration experience. Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications. She is the founder and director of the Franco-American Women’s Institute, FAWI.

Talks

Who Gets To Tell Story? 

Telling or hearing story while conscious of the human ecology—listening to story justly with social consciousness of equality. I would like to define what qualifies as “story.”  I believe essentially that every person, artifact, ritual, etc. is story.  Everything we know comes to us via story; we are surrounded by story.  Story is the microcosm of the macrocosm. Who, in the cultural milieu, gets to tell story?


Where Are the Franco-American Women in Your Community?

Using a Franco-American woman’s search and research as a model to address the issue of what, if any Franco-American woman wanted to know about Franco-American women and their history, where would they begin if they were not told or not allowed to know and value the contributions of the Franco-American women’s history?


Franco-American Women, Suffrage and Political Activity

What was Camille Lessard Bissonnette doing to promote women’s suffrage in 1910-1911, and what barriers did she face?  What was happening across the border in the QC/Canadian women’s suffrage movement, which started in 1912?  And who were the Franco-American women of Maine who served in the Maine State Legislature starting in 1935?  The lives of these women illustrate the history of women’s suffrage here, connects the present, and helps us understand how we got here.

Writer, Educator

he/him

Marpheen Chann is the author of an upcoming memoir titled Moon in Full: A Modern Coming-of-Age Story (Islandport Press, June 2022), a Maine politician, speaker, community organizer, and gay man of color.

As a gay, first-generation Asian American born in California to a Cambodian refugee family and later adopted by an evangelical, white working-class family in Maine, Marpheen uses a mix of humor and storytelling to help people view topics such as racism, xenophobia, and homophobia through an intersectional lens. 

Talks

​​Welcome Home: My Journey Through Foster Care, Coming Out, and Reuniting with Family 

Life is complicated and full of twists and turns. In “Welcome Home,” Marpheen shares his insights, lessons learned, and maybe a few laughs as he tells the story of being a second-generation Cambodian American who went through foster care and adoption, struggled with fitting in and adapting to a white-majority community, and coming out as gay to his devoutly religious family. 

Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, University of Southern Maine

she/her

Larissa Malone, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at University of Southern Maine in the Teacher Education Department. Dr. Malone earned a doctorate in Cultural Foundations of Education from the School of Foundations, Leadership, and Administration at Kent State University, a MA from Walsh University, and a BA in International Studies from Case Western Reserve University. 

A critical race theorist, Dr. Malone’s research centers on the minoritized experience in schooling, inclusive of students, parents, and teachers. She is particularly interested in how the marginalized navigate educational institutions. Other interests include the intersection of race religion, geography, and identity development.

Talks

​​Race and Education

What role does race and racism play in American schooling? This topic highlights both direct and indirect ways race is relevant to everyday school life. This talk considers the role of race as a crisis faced in classrooms and the responsibility of multiple stakeholders to realize a more racially just future for students.

Content covered includes the necessity of high expectations, identity development, cultural mistrust, racial socialization, and parent and community involvement. This topic is relevant to administrators, teachers, parents, students, and communities and directly addresses issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in regard to race. 


Critical Race Theory in Education

What is Critical Race Theory (CRT) and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? Several years ago, Ladson-Billings (1998) posed this question in a groundbreaking article that introduced the use of this theory into educational spaces and ever since then researchers, administrators, and teachers have grappled with what CRT can tell us about the function of race in the institution of schooling.

This topic guides participants through the fundamental elements of CRT and its core constructs—the permanence of racism, interest convergence, racial realism, the critique of liberalism, whiteness as property, and the power of counter-stories. This topic is approached with the premise that culture is critical to human agency

Associate Professor of Africana Studies

she/her

Judith Casselberry is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College. Her teaching and research focuses on Black American religious and cultural studies, social movements, and Black intellectual thought with particular attention to gender and liberation. 

She is author of The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism (Duke University Press, 2017) and co-editor of Spirit on the Move: Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and the Diaspora (Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People series with Duke University Press, 2019.

Talks

Afrofuturism in 19th century Black Spirituals 

What can 19th century Black spirituals teach us about Afrofuturism? What if we fully embraced the insistence of the spirituals—insisting on humanity, insisting on a divine ethical and moral vision?

Nineteenth century Black spirituals laid the foundations for Afrofuturism as Black people brought God and the battles and heroes of the Old Testament into their history while projecting liberation in the now and future. Through the spirituals Black people insisted on the value of their ways of knowing and ways of expressing life, death, sorrow, and joy.


Black Women’s Freedom Practices: 17th to 21st Century

This talk centers four Black women of consequence who affected the American political landscape between the 17th and 21th centuries—Elizabeth Key, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Stacy Abrams.

Their experiences highlight how power dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, status, and religion converge in different moments and are shaped by social, political, and historical contexts. At the same time, each woman shows how Black women’s activism has had a profound impact on America’s self-understanding—in social, legal, and political realms. 


Intentional Community Building: Blackness in Lesbian Musical Culture 

Based on reflections from a cultural worker/performer at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, this talk address the commitment to building an intentional community rooted in a lesbian feminist musical and artistic ethos.

This talk provides a glimpse into spaces where lesbians of color negotiate questions about autonomy, coalition work, and intentional community building which inform our notions of civil society, citizenship, and social justice. This talk explores these themes by looking specifically at the evolution of the festival’s theme song, “Amazon”

Poet, Writer, Archivist

he/him

Jefferson Navicky is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection. He is the author of Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments in Short Prose, as well as the story collection, The Paper Coast, and the poetic novel, The Book of Transparencies. He lives in Freeport with his wife, dog, cats, and chickens. 

Talks

The Offshore Islands Belong to Themselves: Ruth Moore & Her Poetry

Ruth Moore was one of Maine’s most beloved 20th century writers. Jefferson’s presentation includes highlights from the Ruth Moore collection at the Maine Women Writers Collection. This talk touches on some of her most well-known books as well as her often-neglected poetry. Jefferson will share a variety of Moore’s poems and invite audience participation. 


Elizabeth Coatsworth & Kate Barnes: Processing the Literary Archives of Mother & Daughter

Jefferson Navicky had the rare good fortune of processing the extensive archival papers of Elizabeth Coatsworth, one of the most accomplished children’s book authors and poets of the mid 20th century, as well as the papers of her daughter, Kate Barnes, Maine’s first Poet Laureate.

Together, their papers present an intimate glimpse into the makings of a matriarchal line of Maine writers. Jefferson will speak about his experience processing these collections, as well as present illustrative work from each writer, and provide historical and biographical context. 


A Day in the Life of Maine Women: Diaries of Everyday Life

The Maine Women Writers Collection has numerous diaries spanning the 19th and 20th century kept by Maine women across the state whose lives were remarkable in their unremarkableness. In the quotidian passing of their days – from weather to chores to historic moments – the accumulation gives shape and significance to their lives.

By sampling and discussing a selection of these diaries across time, we will all connect with the common struggles and small triumphs of what it’s like to be human and to live day by day. 

Cultural Historian, Penobscot Nation

she/her

Carol Dana works to preserve, share, and teach Penobscot language and storytelling.

She was born in Bangor in 1952 and attended school on Indian Island until the fifth grade. She later attended college in Machias, got married in 1971, and had her first child in 1972 before moving to New York and working on Akwesasne Notes.

Dana returned to Maine to raise a family on Indian Island and started working on the Penobscot Dictionary in 1982. She currently works in the Cultural Historical Preservation Department for the Penobscot Nation. Available for speaking December - March 

Talks

Atlohkewe: Tell Me a Story 

Dana has researched 189 stories from the Folger library that were oral tradition stories told in winter. Dana’s talk also features stories from In Indian Tents by Abby Alger, Algonquian Legends of New England by Charles Godfrey Leland, Gluscabe the Liar and other Weird Tales by Horace P. Beck, and Silas T. Rand’s Legends of the Micmacs. Dana is winner of the Maine Humanities Council’s 2022 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize