The Theiline Pigott McCone Chair in Humanities is dedicated to promoting scholarly life among faculty. The President of Seattle University bestows this award to a member of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty who is an outstanding teacher and scholar in one of the basic humanities disciplines.
Theiline Pigott McCone created this endowment for Seattle University in 1981. A Seattle University regent and prominent Seattle philanthropist, she generously supported a variety of local and national arts and humanities organizations during her lifetime. With this endowed chair, Seattle University honors Theiline Pigott McCone’s legacy and celebrates the strong partnership that continues between the Pigott family and the university today.
Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., appointed Professor Nalini Iyer as the Theiline Pigott McCone Chair in Humanities. The two-year appointment starts July 2020.
Nalini Iyer, Professor in the English department, came to Seattle University in 1993 after completing her Ph.D. at Purdue University. She introduced into the English department’s curriculum courses in Postcolonial literatures, South Asian and African literatures, and Non-Western Women’s writing. She is affiliated faculty in Women and Gender Studies, International Studies, Global African Studies, and Asian Studies programs.
Recognized internationally as an expert in South Asian and South Asian diasporic literatures and cultures, her research focuses on three interrelated areas: the hegemony of Anglophone writing in South Asia, South Asian diaspora studies, and Partition Studies. She has published three books: Other Tongues: Rethinking the Language Debates in India (co-edited with Bonnie Zare); Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest (co-authored with Amy Bhatt); and Revisiting India’s Partition: New Essays in Memory, Culture, and Politics (2016). She is also the author of numerous articles and book chapters. During her term as Pigott-McCone Chair, she will be working on a monograph that examines racialization in South Asian American literature and a co-edited book (with Pallavi Rastogi) on Teaching Anglophone South Asian Diasporic Literature for the MLA. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief for South Asian Review, the journal of the South Asian Literary Association (SALA) published by Taylor and Francis. In the journal’s forty- year history, she is the first woman to serve as Editor.
Her leadership contributions to Seattle University include: Wismer Professor for Gender and Diversity; Director of the Center for the Study of Justice in Society; founding Director of the Diversity, Citizenship, and Social Justice track in the old Core; President of Academic Assembly; chair of the University’s Core Revision Committee; and more recently, Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. In the greater Seattle area, she has served as an advisor to MOHAI and Wing Luke Museums and supported Tasveer, India Association of Western Washington, and King County Library Systems in their programming. For over 20 years, she has reviewed books for the International Examiner.
As Pigott-McCone chair, Nalini Iyer will be focusing her programming on programming for the campus community on Asian American immigration history and cultural production. Given Seattle’s location and history as well as the demographics of the SU community, this topic contributes to SU’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. With her expertise on South Asian American immigration and its particular impact on the region, she expects to develop programs specific to South Asian American issues. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on campus activities, she plans to organize virtual events including speakers, reading groups, and cultural events on the diversity and complexity of Asian American identities.