Mellen, a Bronx native on the faculty at Temple since 1967, is one of an unknown number of faculty who have continued teaching despite the strike called by the Temple Association of University Professionals.
Mellen's decision to teach her "Art of the Film" course and hold graduate student tutorials in creative writing did not come easily.
"You are talking to a person who doesn't believe in crossing picket lines," Mellen said. "The last time (1986) when we had the 19-day strike, I stayed out. I really thought these are the people you work with and one supports the people one works with."
Now, Mellen's thoughts have changed.
A full professor at Temple since 1976, Mellen said she earned about $45,000 a year, well below some of the newly hired and lower ranking professors in the English Department.
And despite the fact that she has published 11 books on everything from the history of masculinity in American film to a social history of Japan, Mellen said she had yet to get a merit raise.
Although Temple's faculty union has been working to increase faculty salaries and merit pay, Mellen says she is bitter about her treatment.
"I don't think Temple has treated me fairly, but that's just as much the responsibility of the faculty as the administration," she said.
Over the weekend, Mellen had "a few sleepless nights" as she contemplated crossing the picket lines. On Tuesday, she took the plunge.
Shortly after 8 a.m., 15 students had assembled for Mellen's English 170 film course. Quickly, she handed out a list of books and films that ran the gamut from The Graduate to Dr. Strangelove.
The course, which focuses on how American society views its problems on film, isn't Monday night at the movies. Students have to read several texts and write a paper every other week. When they view the film Dirty Harry, a movie about a tough cop who extracted a confession from a serial killer, Mellen sends them to the Paley Library to read the U.S. Constitution.
"Most of them have never read the Constitution," Mellen said. "That's why I show Dirty Harry."
Mellen does all of this, she said, because she loves teaching. She loves it so much that she's written a book on Bobby Knight, Indiana University's basketball coach, as a teacher.
"What attracted me to him was his teaching," Mellen said. "He came into practice one day with a fishing rod. He was trying to wake the kids up. He makes you a better person and he makes the people around him a better person."
Ultimately, Mellen said it was her love of teaching that led her to make the difficult decision to cross the picket lines thrown up by her colleagues.
"I love to teach and I'll teach anybody any subject," she said. "When I came to class, the kids realized this was a real teacher. They were eager to learn. And I was eager to teach."