Rebecca D. Mazumdar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of English

New York City College of Technology,

City University of New York

300 Jay Street, Namm 512

Brooklyn, NY 11201

My career at City Tech began in 2010, after completing my Ph.D. in English at the University of Connecticut. In the Department of English, I teach classes in literature and composition, including Law through Literature, Introduction to Literature – Fiction, Perspectives in Fiction, and an occasional special topics course on graphic novels.

My approach to teaching emphasizes connection, empathy, curiosity, and transparency, rooted in the belief that, as bell hooks writes, “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.” I center the English classroom at the nexus of students’ interdisciplinary experiences of college, challenging them to connect literary themes and class discussions with their chosen careers and majors. Students might find themselves advocating for new laws or community initiatives to combat food insecurity in New York City, or recording a podcast episode that reveals the untold story of a fictional character.

I employ long-standing WAC principles  alongside a playful pedagogy founded in what might best be described as controlled cognitive dissonance to coach my students through the writing process. This leads to  creative, unconventional student writing  that impacts their thinking long after the semester has ended. My students have written multimodal digital texts about immigration, devised proposals for Hospitality Management students to teach kitchen skills and meal planning to local high school students, and written lesson plans for physics courses that use films of boxer Muhammad Ali to demonstrate Newton’s laws. Specific materials related to activities and assignments can be found in the Teaching Methodology section of this site.

As you can see in the Publications and Presentations section of this portfolio, I’ve published two articles on teaching and learning, including one co-authored with colleagues across disciplines. I’ve also given conference papers about my pedagogy, presented a workshop on effective writing assignment design to math faculty at West Point, and given invited guest lectures on American literature and cold war culture at Smith College, LaGuardia Community College, and Drew University (via video). I’ve shared pedagogical ideas with colleagues and CUNY graduate students during my years as a co-coordinator of the faculty development program Writing Across the Curriculum (2013-2017 and 2018-2020). I learned valuable interdisciplinary and civic pedagogies through attendance at SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Summer Institutes, and I’ve participated in City Tech learning communities with professors in Communication Design and Law & Paralegal Studies.

Critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and clear communication are essential in any academic program and every profession. A classroom activity where students compete to identify ways that a politician is like a clothes hanger may lead to discussions of how seemingly disparate concepts can illuminate each other through proximal analysis. In such a classroom, a game of Bingo can lead to close-reading lines from a novel; a game of Jeopardy becomes a discussion about the different ways a text can be interpreted. To see more about the philosophy behind this approach, navigate to the Teaching Philosophy section in the menu.