UC Davis Study Abroad, Summer Abroad USA, Iconic American Landmarks Program, Header Image, Overview Page

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Summer Abroad USA - Instructor

Iconic American Landmarks in NYC and DC

Instructor Profile Image, UC Davis Summer Abroad USA

Melissa Bender

University Writing Program

Melissa Bender is a Continuing Lecturer in the University Writing Program at the University of California, Davis, where she earned her Ph.D. in English. She also holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Twenty Writing Assignments in Context (McFarland, 2017) and the editor and translator of La Caricature 1830-1835 (Alan Wofsy Fine Arts 2017), a collection of 19th century French political cartoons. She has taught writing for over twenty years and currently teaches courses in visual rhetoric, history writing, science writing, and writing in the health professions. She has led summer study abroad programs in England, France, and Italy and a quarter abroad program in Sydney, Australia. She is looking forward to introducing students to Washington D.C. and New York City in 2018.

A Message to Students and Parents

To say that I am an avid traveler is an understatement. When I am not actually traveling, I am planning my next trip. From 2003 to 2005, I lived and taught English in Bordeaux, France. And, in the last five years, I have traveled in England, Italy, France, Iceland, Sweden, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, and Australia, as well as number of U.S. cities, including New Orleans, Chicago, and Boston. My drive to travel arises from a deep curiosity about the world and a desire to continue learning. For, although I have been an educator for over two decades, I also view myself as a lifelong student. While it is possible to learn about a place by reading about it, I firmly believe that you can’t really know a place until you’ve spent time there. Thus, I have relished the opportunities I have had in the recent past to lead UC students on programs in Europe and Australia. There is nothing quite like seeing a place that you know well through the eyes of students who are seeing it for the first time. When the UC Davis Study Abroad program announced that they would be offering domestic off-campus programs I jumped at the chance to propose a course that would visit two U.S. cities that have played a key role in my own informal--outside of the classroom--education. Growing up on the east coast, I made frequent trips with my family to New York City and Washington D.C. I have very clear memories of seeing for the first time many of the monuments and historic neighborhoods that will be a feature of the Iconic Landmarks of America program. These cities instilled in me an intellectual interest in urban landscapes and informal educational sites such as museums and memorials—an interest that continues today in my teaching and research work on visual communication, history writing, and cultural studies. I very much look forward to sharing these interests with students.