Iowa State’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program (WGS) welcomed a new assistant teaching professor, Rita Mookerjee, to their core faculty this fall.
Mookerjee grew up in Pennsylvania and is a recent graduate of Florida State University, where she earned her doctorate degree in the English department. She will now be teaching three courses here at Iowa State: Introduction to Queer Studies (WGS 205), International Perspectives on Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS 301) and Feminist Theories (WGS 401/501).
Mookerjee’s passion for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program was sparked by her colleagues. One of those colleagues was Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program Ann M. Oberhauser, who is among other colleagues committed to making Iowa State an inclusive campus.
Mookerjee finds that everyone in Iowa State’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program has worked very hard to offer a strong curriculum with courses that students can connect with and use in daily life no matter their field of study.
“The course offerings at Iowa State are limited as of right now because WGS is a small program, but they’re really addressing contemporary topics and issues that we’re facing right now,” Mookerjee said. “We’re not just talking about the Ivory Tower or elite theories of feminism, or sitting and having these large inferial questions. We’re talking about current events, we’re talking about pop culture in our courses.”
Mookerjee emphasizes the importance of such courses to provide a space for students to have conversations and share ideas with each other. Students can discuss topics that are relevant to current events, such as social issues that arise with the upcoming election.
Prioritizing spending time with the community as well as teaching and working with students in class is important to Mookerjee as she takes on her new position.
Mookerjee said she also supports student organizations that relate to her interests. She plans on being involved with LGBTQIA+ centered programs as she feels it is important to have a faculty presence to support Iowa State’s students.
With the upcoming school year, Mookerjee is most looking forward to the ‘ah-ha’ moments and interesting conversations that will be had in her courses.
“I love that moment where something clicks or someone puts pieces of an issue together that maybe they hadn’t considered before, or finds out something that they had no idea about,” Mookerjee said. “That’s very exciting for me. When I was a student, I loved those moments where I realized I didn’t know anything, it’s sort of like those terrifying moments where you’re like ‘oh my goodness I have no knowledge of this subject, I need to do some reading.’ I find that very invigorating and I like to see that happen with my students.”
Participating on campus is another goal of Mookerjee’s. One of her passions is writing poetry, so she will be publicly reading a piece of her work in October at the Parks Library.
New to the Ames area, Mookerjee plans to explore the Midwest more as well. She believes that there’s a lot to experience here and is excited by aspects of the culture, such as farming and sustainability.