Featured Speakers


Plenary Session: A Conversation with bell hooks

bell hooks is an acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer. hooks has authored over three dozen books and has published works that span several genres, including cultural criticism, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children's books. Her writings cover topics of gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks adopted the pen name of her maternal great-grandmother, a woman known for speaking her mind. hooks received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Join in for a conversation about her seminal study of liberatory learning, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom—the inspiration for our conference theme. A book signing will follow the plenary session. Get your copy of Teaching to Transgress here!

For more information on bell hooks and her work, visit www.bellhooksinstitute.com

Bio Credit



Opening Keynote: Rachel Cobb

Rachael Cobb is a political scientist whose research focuses on U.S. elections, election administration, electoral politics, civic engagement, and political participation. Her work has focused on how voters are treated by election officials when they show up to vote. At Suffolk University, Cobb runs the University Pollworkers Project, a nonpartisan program designed to recruit college students to serve as poll workers in partnership with the City of Boston’s Election Department. Cobb serves on the Board of MassVOTE based in Boston, an organization dedicated to promoting political participation of historically underrepresented communities in Massachusetts.

Bio Credit


Workshop Facilitator: James Lang

James M. Lang is a professor of English and the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA, where he teaches courses in British literature and in creative nonfiction writing. The author of five books and more than a hundred reviews or essays, on topics ranging from higher education to British literature, Lang writes a monthly column for The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as contributing regularly to America and Notre Dame Magazine. He edits a series of books on teaching and learning in higher education for the University of West Virginia Press. He has delivered public lectures and faculty workshops at more than a hundred colleges or universities in the United States and abroad. In the fall of 2016, he received a Fulbright Specialist grant to work with three universities in Colombia on the creation of a MOOC on teaching and learning in higher education in Spanish-speaking countries.

Lang will be leading the post-conference Teaching & Learning Workshop on Sunday: Small Teaching for Talented Students.

Bio Credit



StorySLAM Emcee: Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III is the author of six books, including the New York Times’ bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie. His most recent book, Dirty Love, published in the fall of 2013, was a New York Times “Notable Book” selection, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice”, a 2013 “Notable Fiction” choice from The Washington Post, and a Kirkus “Starred Best Book of 2013”.

Mr. Dubus has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes, and is a 2012 recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in over twenty-five languages, and he teaches full-time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Fontaine, a modern dancer, and their three children.

Mr. Dubus will emcee NCHC's first StorySLAM: an interactive storytelling competition modeled after The Moth Radio Hour.

Bio Credit