Meet Our 2023 Ikeda Forum Panelists

In commemoration of the Ikeda Center’s 30th anniversary, on September 16 we will host our annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue examining the role of literature in fostering inner transformation and peace, especially in these increasingly divisive times. As the 19th event in the series, this year’s forum will feature a dialogue with renowned scholars exploring Daisaku Ikeda’s engagement with literature as an indispensable tool for actualizing our personal and social potential for peace and wellbeing. They will also share their own stories of encountering and being transformed by literature. Our panelists include Drs. Anita Patterson, Ashley Foster, Giulia Pellizzato, Ikea Johnson, Jason Goulah, Jim Garrison, Kenneth Price, and Sarah Wider. Read more about each of our panelists below. 

Anita Patterson portrait

Anita Patterson is Professor of English at Boston University. Her first book, From Emerson to King: Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest (Oxford University Press, 1997), explored how Emerson’s legacy informed the work of W.E.B. Du Bois and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In her second book, Race, American Literature and Transnational Modernisms (Cambridge University Press, 2008), she showed that Whitman, Poe, Eliot, Pound and their avant-garde contemporaries served as a heritage for Black poets such as Langston Hughes in the US as well as St.-John Perse, Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott, and other poets in the Caribbean. She has published numerous articles on modernism, race, and interculturality, and is currently researching an American literary tradition of transpacific exchange extending from Emerson and Eliot up through the haiku-inspired poetry of Robert Hayden, Richard Wright, and Sonia Sanchez. In addition to teaching in Core, she also teaches courses in the English Department and the American and New England Studies Program.


Headshot of Dr. Ashley Foster

J. Ashley Foster is Associate Professor of 20th & 21st-Century British Literature with Emphasis in Digital Humanities at California State University, Fresno. She is lead curator of the Digital Humanities and Special Collections Exhibitions Surveying Utopias: A Critical Exploration (2019), the catalogue for which was published by The Press at California State University, Fresno in 2019, and Testimonies in Art & Action: Igniting Pacifism in the Face of Total War (2015). Her monograph, Impossible Witness: Modernist Peace Testimonies from the Spanish Civil War is under contract with Clemson UP.  Recent publications include “Paradoxes and Ambivalent Pacifisms: Mulk Raj Anand and His Two Gandhis” (2022) and “Archives, Activism, and Feminist Digital Pedagogy: Virginia Woolf and Muriel Rukeyser in Context” (2021).  Ashley is currently the organizer of the 33rd International Conference on Virginia Woolf, which will be held at Fresno State in June of 2024.


Headshot of Giulia P

Giulia Pellizzato conducts research at Harvard since 2020. During the year 2021, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the project Transatlantic Transfers: The Italian Presence in Post-War America, funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. While at Harvard as a TA and a Pedagogy Fellow, Giulia developed a new line of research, related to dialogic engagements with literature and nature in higher education. She is expanding this inquiry through her second PhD, in Value Creating Education for Global Citizenship at DePaul University, Chicago. Before coming to Harvard, Giulia was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Italian Department at Brown University, thanks to a postdoctoral grant funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for the project: An Adventure Overseas, Almost a “Renaissance”. Italian fiction in the United States after World War Two. She obtained her first PhD in Italian Studies at Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland, in 2018. Her first book, Prezzolini e Parise: un’amicizia transoceanica, was published by Leo S. Olschki in 2021.


Headshot of Dr. Ikea Johnson

Ikea Johnson is an Assistant Professor of English at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2022, she received a Ph.D. in the field of Comparative Literature from Louisiana State University, where she was a Huel D. Perkins Doctoral Research Fellow. She teaches African-American literature, Afrofuturism, Buddhist philosophy, the Harlem Renaissance, and myth and symbols. Her research interests include the intersectionality of spirituality in literature. She has published several articles in the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, where she also serves as the current Executive Editor. Her article, “Revisiting Recognition: Buddhist Philosophy in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple” (2020), was reprinted in Children’s Literature Review on The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Volume 1 for Layman Poupard Publishing for Gale/Cengage Learning in 2022. Currently, she is under contract with Vernon Press to publish Black Dharma: Theory and Practice of Buddhism in African American Literature (2023), with blurbs by Charles R. Johnson (Middle Passage and Taming the Ox) and Seth T. Reno (Amorous Aesthetics: Intellectual Love in Romantic Poetry and Poetics, 1788-1853).

Jason Goulah Headshot

Jason Goulah is a pioneering and award-winning scholar in the fields of Ikeda/Soka studies in education and transformative and socioecological perspectives in culture and language education. He is Professor of Bilingual-Bicultural Education and Director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education at DePaul University. He is also director of DePaul’s degree programs in Bilingual-Bicultural EducationWorld Language Education, and Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship. He has served as a research fellow at the Center for Latino Research; as a research and translation fellow at Soka University, Tokyo; and as a research fellow at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at the University at Buffalo Law School. He was a 2018 Visiting Professor in the Soka Education Research Initiative on Global Citizenship at the University of Guelph-Humber, Canada, a 2016 Visiting Professor at Soka University of America, and a 2015 Visiting Diversity Scholar at the University of Evansville. He has conducted curriculum and professional development for Chicago Public Schools, New York City Schools, and other public and private school districts in Illinois and New York. He is a former teacher of Japanese, ESL, and Russian as heritage and foreign languages.


Jim Garrison headshot

Jim Garrison is professor emeritus of philosophy of education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia where he also holds appointments in the department of philosophy as well as the science, technology, and society program and the alliance for social, political, ethical, and cultural thought. He was a Chancellors Visiting Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden for 2014-2018 and has an honorary doctorate from Soka University, Japan. Jim’s work concentrates on philosophical pragmatism. He is a past-president of the John Dewey Society and the Philosophy of Education Society. Some of his more recent books include Living and Learning with Buddhist religious leader and educator Daisaku Ikeda and Larry Hickman Director emeritus of the Center for Dewey Studies (Dialogue Path Press 2014), Democracy and Education Reconsidered: Dewey After One Hundred Years (Routledge, 2016) co-authored with colleagues from Cologne, Germany Stefan Neubert and Kersten Reich, Deweyan Transactionalism in Education with Swedish colleagues Johan Öhman and Leif Östman (Bloomsbury, 2022), and John Dewey and Chinese Education: A Centennial. Reflection with Zhang Huajun from Peking University (Brill, 2022). Jim has published books and papers in ten languages other than English. 


Headshot of Dr. Kenneth Price

Kenneth Price received his B.A. from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and then earned both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. He is the Hillegass University Professor of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and co-director of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Price is the author of over fifty articles and author or editor of twelve books. He has co-edited books on Literary Studies in the Digital Age, James Weldon Johnson, George Santayana, and nineteenth-century periodical literature. Widely known as a Whitman scholar, he is the author of Whitman in Tradition: The Poet in His Century (Yale, 1990), To Walt Whitman, America (North Carolina, 2004), and co-author with Ed Folsom of Re-Scripting Walt Whitman (Blackwell, 2005). His latest book, Whitman in Washington: Becoming the National Poet in the Federal City, was published by Oxford University Press (2020). His digital work includes co-directing The Walt Whitman ArchiveCivil War Washington, and The Charles W. Chesnutt Archive. He is also co-PI of an ACLS Digital Extension grant supporting “New Storytellers: The Research Institute in Digital Ethnic Studies.” This summer 2021 research institute brought a diverse group of scholars together to share, learn, and create intensively. It is designed to further empower scholars from underrepresented groups through Digital Humanities approaches to diverse cultural heritages.


Headshot of Dr. Sarah Wider

Sarah Ann Wider taught an Emersonian miscellany of courses at Colgate University for nearly 40 years.  Emerita Professor of English and Women’s Studies, she looks forward to unfettered time for continuing her always ongoing study of the Transcendentalists in all their challenging and vexing complexities. She is the author of Anna Tilden, Unitarian Culture and the Problem of Self-Representation (1997) and of The Critical Reception of Emerson: Unsettling all Things (2001), as well as of numerous essays on women involved in or responding to the Transcendentalist Movement. With President Ikeda she engaged in a dialogue of the heart, published as The Art of True Relations (2014) and contributed a chapter on President Ikeda’s poetry for Encountering the Poems of Daisaku Ikeda (2015).