Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence experiences multitudes of the U.S.
Mashrur Shahid Hossain has lots on his to-do list. Hossain is a professor of English from Bangladesh visiting Northwest Indiana as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. During his time in the region, he will teach at IU Northwest, Purdue Northwest, and Ivy Tech.
If his teaching schedule wasn’t enough, Hossain also recently presented at IU Northwest’s Celebration of Faculty Research. Hossain discussed the sexual victimization of men in film across cultures. "Sexual violence happens against men as well," he said. "It is considered one of the most underrepresented phenomena in the world."
His research looks at world films and literature, with a focus on American, Bangladeshi, British, and Indian texts and develops a framework for reading the sexual victimization of men. Hossain points out that men and women respond to abuse differently, and we should approach their victimization differently as well. "I take into account the dynamics of sexual violence against men so that it can be more effectively represented. That will ultimately do good for society as well."
Representation of male victimization is only a small part of Hossain’s work. He is an expert in literature, cultural studies, and gender studies at his home institution, Jahangirnagar University Dhaka, and his general focus is comparative literature.
"Comparative literature takes us beyond our cultural and geographical borders. That makes us discover the relations, the contradictions, and the interaction between nations, languages, and cultures," he said.
Hossain has a particular interest in 'minority' discourse and marginalized peoples, including indigenous groups, the transgender community, and refugees. He said he hopes his work will bring important ‘minority’ issues to the foreground.
Not all research and reading
But the professor’s time in the United States certainly isn’t all research and reading. Since his arrival, he’s already visited several places in Illinois and Florida. In Key West, he was excited to see the juxtaposition between American and Cuban cultures.
"I would like to visit more places and cultures that are multi-ethnic," Hossain said. "It’s not simply setting your foot in several states, but rather choosing states that will expose me to different cultures and ethnicities."
Up next on his travel agenda are California and Michigan. Hossain said he wants to see places that reflect the "multitudes" contained within the United States. After all, he’s already experienced the vast changes in temperature, traveling from snowy Northwest Indiana in January to sweltering Miami in March.
While Hossain enjoys his time in the US, he hasn’t lost sight of the goal of a Fulbright position—cultural exchange. He looks forward to learning more about educational standards in America and adapting them for his Bangladeshi students back home. He has initiated a number of online events including a poetry-based program to celebrate the International Mother Language Day on February 21 that featured people of 16 languages. He is planning to organize more innovative events in this year.
Hossain also hopes to foster intercultural communication. "I’ve already been working to maximize the potential for interaction," he said. "I’m trying to develop a student network between the U.S. and Bangladesh, and maybe even South Asia."
The beginnings of that student network can be seen in his course on gender and media. Hossain said his students at IU Northwest have been very enthusiastic and ready to take on challenges, such as writing complex papers and attending conferences.
Although Hossain has already traveled around, conversed with students, and met other academics, he still looks forward to seeing even more of what the country has to offer. "[The U.S.] reminds me of Whitman’s famous quote, 'I am large, I contain multitudes,'" he said.
And considering his breadth of research and excitement for learning, it’s no stretch to say that Hossain himself contains multitudes as well.