What attracted you to Occidental?
Oxy is the best of both worlds—a small, nurturing environment with a small college town feel embedded within an incredibly vibrant, exciting, and innovative world cultural arts center. I feel at home in a place that encourages students and faculty to be highly interdisciplinary, visionary thinkers and creators, and to engage deeply with the cultural community surrounding them.
How has remote learning impacted your approach to teaching?
I’ve found it useful to balance screen mediated experiences with those that are more physical, tangible, and embodied—such as journal writing, sketching, explorations of real-world spaces. I’ve deliberately built in space for students to have a sense of community and reflection, something that happens more organically when in person (walking to class or waiting for it to start, social breaks, etc.).
Emerging media is my field, so I am personally very curious about how this unique moment in time is forcing all of us to radically question, experiment with, and innovate on our teaching. I am inspired by all of the interesting approaches fellow faculty are trying out, and their willingness to share as we all tackle this challenge.
The liberal arts approach provides a foundation for students to think beyond existing systems and structures, to dynamically engage with social issues, to know themselves, develop their voice, and to have a lot to say!
What do you look forward to most about returning to campus?
I am looking forward to the informal and improvisational interactions and moments that can only be had in shared physical space together, not only in a return to campus, but also in a return to the world more broadly. I hope to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what can best be done in person physically versus virtually. I am also looking forward to not having to see myself on video so often!
Media Arts and Culture is one of the fastest-growing departments at Occidental. How does the liberal arts approach to film studies and other media forms differ from the film schools?
Oxy students rigorously engage with interdisciplinary subjects that deeply inform who they are as creators and scholars, what they want to make, why it matters, and how it can have a positive cultural impact. This effort fuels their ability to create truly unique contributions, and to be visionary leaders about where the media arts are (and should be) going, not just where they currently are or have been.
In my experience at other film schools, technique and production polish are sometimes emphasized much more than content or critical thinking skills. Students create beautiful work, but can be afraid to take risks or go beyond the status quo. The liberal arts approach provides a foundation for students to think beyond existing systems and structures, to dynamically engage with social issues, to know themselves, develop their voice, and to have a lot to say!