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Newell Scholar Mab Segrest to focus on Central State Hospital, community and mental health

Writer and social activist Mab Segrest has been announced as the 2015 Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar.
Writer and social activist Mab Segrest has been announced as the 2015 Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar.

Dr. Mab Segrest isn’t a stranger to Milledgeville. The newly appointed Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Distinguished Scholar’s current work revolves around the tumultuous history behind the local landmark Central State Hospital (CSH).

Segrest will arrive on campus in January for the spring 2015 semester and offer a course entitled “Milledgeville and the Mind,” as well as give various lectures throughout the semester.

“I applied for the Newell residency because it provided a great opportunity to bring this work back to its home,” Segrest said.

Born in Alabama, Segrest is a writer and social activist, who has a diverse background in academia and working for various social justice organizations. She received her masters and doctorate in modern British literature from Duke University and was appointed the Fuller-Matthai Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at Connecticut College in 2004. She’s authored works such as “My Mama’s Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture,” “Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice” and “Memoir of a Race Traitor.”

Segrest says one of her hopes by becoming the Newell Scholar is interacting and involving with the Milledgeville community with her work on CSH.

“If my research can help in any way in the efforts to ‘repurpose’ the CSH campus, I would be happy to be of use,” Segrest said. “Part of my job will be making or organizing presentations to the campus and town communities.”

As part of her time at Georgia College, Segrest also hopes to create an open discussion surrounding the issues of mental illness.

“One out of four people in the United States at any one time are affected by mental illness either themselves or in their families. We all have minds and we negotiate our sanity within them every single day,” said Segrest. “The issues that Central State Hospital raises are locally and personally grounded but nationally and globally relevant." 

Dr. Costas Spirou, chair of government and sociology, says Segrest will play an instrumental role in the department this upcoming spring.

“Professor Segrest has written extensively on various social issues, and her strong interdisciplinary knowledge will prove a great intellectual asset to our university community,” Spirou said. “In addition to her seminar, she will hold a number of open sessions, sharing her research on a project that focuses on the social history of Central State Hospital.”

Segrest will host several open lectures throughout her time at Georgia College and her cross-disciplinary seminar will be open to students during spring 2015.

The Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar program was established in 2011 with an endowment from Georgia College alumna, Martha Daniel Newell, ‘42. The program is designed to reinforce Georgia College's liberal arts mission by providing a rare and exciting opportunity for the college community to work alongside a nationally recognized scholar-in-residence.

Newell Visiting Scholars are a source of intellectual stimulation for students and faculty and provide an opportunity to bring new perspectives in knowledge and teaching to Georgia College. For more information on the Newell Scholar program, visit gcsu.edu/newellvisitingscholar.

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