Dr Alicja Syska

Dr Alicja Syska

Learning Development Advisor

Learning Support & Wellbeing (Student Gateway - Student Life)


Learning Development Advisor
Associate Lecturer in History
Personal Enrichment Project (PEP) Coordinator for History and Art History


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Plymouth University, 2013)

Ph.D. in American Studies, Distinction (Saint Louis University, USA, 2008)

Graduate Certificate in Women Studies (Saint Louis University, USA; 2005)

M.A. in Sociology of Human Behaviour, First Class (Szczecin University, Poland; 2001)

B.A. in Sociology of Human Behaviour, First Class (Szczecin University, Poland; 1999)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Association for Learning Development in Higher Education

British Association for American Studies

Roles on external bodies

The Roosevelt Study Center link manager, Plymouth University - Middelburg, Netherlands, 2013.

Critical Friend - South Devon College Partnership, 2013.

Panel member, Investigations into Examination Offences, Plymouth University, 2011.

Teaching interests

As a Learning Developer, I offer workshops on writing, critical thinking and reflective practice, as well as presentation skills.

In my role as a historian, I teach modules in American History and American Popular Culture, World History Since 1850, German History after 1870, Visual Culture (film), Induction and Plymouth Plus Module, as well as History Dissertation.

Advice and Feedback Tutorials: by appointment.

Research interests

Modern U.S. history; cultural and historical memory; African American experience; constructions of race; U.S. minorities; American cultural myths; U.S. national identity; human rights; Cold War America; American relations with Eastern Europe; American film; women’s history; cultural imagination; world history; modern German history.

Grants & contracts

Research and Innovation Grant, Atlanta Conference, 2013 (£1,000).

The Roosevelt Study Center Research Grant, Middelburg, the Netherlands, 2012 (£500).

HCA Spring Academy Dissertation Grant, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Germany, 2007.

Dissertation Grant at St. Louis University, USA, 2006.

Graduate Research Assistantship with full tuition remission and stipend at Saint Louis University, 2003-2006 ($64,000).

Review of African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House, edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz. Journal of American Studies (2011)

'In Search of Subjectivity: An Irigarayan Reading of the Body in Self-Representations of Josephine Baker and Frida Kahlo' in Women in the Arts: Eccentric Essays in Music, Visual Arts and Literature, edited by Barbara Harbach and DianeTouliatos-Miles (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).

'Ambiguous Women: Debates within American Evangelical Feminism.' The European Journal of American Culture vol. 26, no.3 (2007): 167-180.

'Dialectics of the Banana Skirt: The Ambiguities of Josephine Baker’s Self-Representation.' Michigan Feminist Studies Journal Special issue no19, “Bodies: Physical and Abstract” (Fall 2005-Spring 2006): 51-72.*

* This article was used as a teaching resource at the California Institute of the Arts, USA between 2010 and 2012. 

Reports & invited lectures


'Dialectic of the Banana Skirt' at The Sheldon Art Galleries, Saint Louis, USA, 2006.


Eyes on America: Rethinking Popular Culture – English, History & History of Art 6th Form Conference, 2015

Annual lectures for the Shanghai Summer School as well as Open Days for Schools, at Plymouth University. Topics:

Making Sense of the Salem Witchcraft Trials (2015-16); Writing Academically in History (2016); Hollywood and History (2014); US Elections (2013); Imagining America (2012)


‘Stand Out: Profiles in Employability’, Vice-Chancellor’s 15th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference. University of Plymouth, 2017.

Poster presentation: Writing as a creative exploration with image as a pedagogical tool. Vice-Chancellor's 14th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, Plymouth University, 2016.

'Writing With Charlotte: Image as a pedagogical tool to facilitate academic writing'. Writing Development in Higher Education Conference, Plymouth University, 2016.

'The Science of Memory: W.E.B. Du Bois and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on the Genealogical Trail to Membership in the Sons of the American Revolution'. BAAS 58th Annual Conference in Exeter, 2013.

'W.E.B. Du Bois as a "Memory Entrepreneur": A Genealogical Project for Membership in American Society'. W.E.B. Du Bois and the Wings of Atlanta Conference, Clark Atlanta University, 2013.

'Black Origins of the American Self: W.E.B. Du Bois's Nationalistic Project.' BAAS 57th Annual Conference in Manchester, 2012.

'Rhetorics of Vision: Narratives of Eastern Europe in American Discourse.' HCA Spring Academy, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, 2007

'Methodological Challenges'—panel chair, Postgraduate Conference 'Thinking Gender' at the University of Leeds, 2006

'Tolerance for Ambiguity: Dialectics of Evangelical Feminism.' Postgraduate Conference 'Thinking Gender' at the University of Leeds, 2006

'Visualizing Distinctions: Constructing Public Identities Through Images'—panel chair, Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Saint Louis, 2006

'Remapping Eastern Europe in America: "Us" and "Them" in Photographs', Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Saint Louis, 2006

'In Search of Subjectivity: An Irigarayan Reading of the Body in Self-Representations of Josephine Baker and Frida Kahlo.' 'Women in the Arts' Conference at University of Missouri–St. Louis, 2005

'Dialectics of the Banana Skirt: Who Made Josephine Baker?' National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations Conference, San Diego, 2005

'Double Consciousness: W.E.B. Du Bois and Gender', Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, 2004

'"It’s Hard to be a Woman, but a Black One!"—W.E.B. Du Bois’s Dialectic of Feminism,' The Ninth Annual Barnes Club History Conference at Temple University, Philadelphia, 2004


Other academic activities

Internship at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis, USA (working with Curator on the exhibition Josephine Baker: Image and Icon, 2005)

Co-curating a gallery exhibition on Minimalism in the Pulitzer Institute for the Arts, St. Louis, USA (2006)


PedRIO: Employability in the Curriculum and Beyond Conference (January 2017)

Journeying into Writing (January 2017)

Unconscious Bias (September 2016)

HEFCE 'Prevent Duty' (July 2016)

Diversity in the workplace (March 2016)

ALDinHE - The Learning Development Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh (March 2016)

Masters Level Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference - Issues for the 21st Century (January 2016) 

Innovation in Pedagogy Cafe: Sustainability Education Workshop (December 2015)

Facing History Workshop: Teaching International Justice and the Rule of Law (December 2015)

Facing History: We and They, FHAO webinar (October 2015)

Moodle online marking training (September 2015)

Talis Aspire Reading List training (August 2014)

HPA Moodle training (June 2014)

Box of Broadcasts training (May 2014)

Vice-Chancellor's Teaching and Learning Conference (June 2013)

Turnitin training (March 2013)

Turning Technologies (February 2013)

Faculty Of Arts Teaching And Learning Development Day (January 2013)

Additional information

I'm a traveller and a mountain trekker, a thinker and a researcher, a teacher, a blogger and a big fan of yoga and red wine.