CLA Stories

At Backpack, we’re strategic storytellers for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The college is a hub for intellectual and creative innovation, and we tell stories that spark curiosity, connection, and inspiration. Our objective is to transform CLA into a destination college by telling stories about the students, faculty, and alumni.

Aren Aizura poses outdoors for a portrait

Aren Aizura on Mobile Subjects: Transnational Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment

“Claiming trans recognition or rights is not enough as long as we don’t look at how transgender identity is made possible through racial and imperial logics,” says Aren Aizura. His new book examines the racial dynamics and economic issues related to gender and gender reassignment. “I argue that trans culture and politics need to take account of its own whiteness and reliance on capitalist circuits.”
Portrait of Ross Etherton

An Unexpected Love

Before he discovered the joy of learning languages, Ross Etherton had no intention of going to college. Today, the GNSD department welcomes him as a thoughtful and engaged assistant professor. Read his journey from a small town in Nebraska to Austria and eventually to the UMN.
Jessica Lopez Lyman stands smiling for a portrait in front of a brick building.

The Art of Community: Latina/o/x Activism in the Twin Cities

Professor Jessica Lopez Lyman is following 11 contemporary, local artists to uncover the intersection between art and social justice work. “It's been such an inspiring experience to see these Latinas out there, giving of themselves, using their art as a tool to educate,” Lopez Lyman says. Her research will contribute to the growing scholarship around Midwestern Latina/o/x communities.
Portrait of Professor Ben Munson and Dr. Alayo Tripp

Does What We See Affect How We Hear?

Our ability to understand speech has always been subject to how well we hear. But can cultural, social, and behavioral linguistic differences (within a language) impact how well we hear and understand? Professor Benjamin Munson and Dr. Alayo Tripp are studying the impact of race-based biases on how easily older people understand the speech of younger people.

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