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Meet Our Newest Faculty

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 23 September 2016 | 1:01 pm — 

Please join the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in welcoming our newest faculty in the departments of communication and English.

jacob-craigJacob Craig, assistant professor in the Department of English, received his PhD in English from Florida State University. He teaches courses in first-year writing, digital rhetoric and composition and interdisciplinary composition. His research interests include composition theory and pedagogy, digital rhetoric, mobility/mobile writing technologies, locations of writing and multimodality.

 

cui-xiXi Cui, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, received his PhD from Texas A&M University. Dr. Cui is a firm supporter of student research, as he received Promising Professor Award of the Mass Communication and Society Division of AEJMC in 2016 . He teaches courses on media studies and research methods, and his research interests include media rituals, media and social identity and social network analysis.

 

lindsey-dragerLindsey Drager, assistant professor in the Department of English, is the author of the novel The Sorrow Proper (Dzanc, 2015), winner of the 2016 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Prize and recipient of Silver in the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in Literary Fiction. Dr. Drager received her PhD in creative writing from the University of Denver. Her research interests include contemporary American literature, literary publishing and disability studies.

Remembering the Unforgettable: Conseula Francis

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 23 September 2016 | 12:26 pm — 
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Conseula Francis

Original article: The College Remembers Beloved Professor Conseula Francis

Conseula Francis, associate provost and professor of English and African American Studies at the College of Charleston, passed away on May 9, 2016, following a brief illness.

Francis earned a Ph.D from the University of Washington and began teaching in the Department of English at the College in 2002. In 2007, she was appointed director of the African American Studies Program. In July 2015, she joined the Office of Academic Affairs as associate provost for curriculum and institutional resources.

She is survived by her husband, Brian McCann, and two daughters, Frances and Catherine (Cate) McCann.

In an announcement to the campus community, Provost Brian McGee remembered Francis’ many talents.

“She was a formidable intellect who could make a hard day shorter and a difficult meeting easier. There was no burden she could not lighten, no path she could not straighten, by applying her unique combination of good humor and keen insight.”

Patricia Williams Lessane, executive director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, was very close to Francis as a friend and faculty colleague.

“Conseula epitomizes Black girl magic, said Lessane.She was a lover of the magic we as Black women wield with our pens and the sacred whispers, secrets, and incantations that our foremothers have used throughout the ages to keep our families safe, to lift up one another, and strengthen the ties that bind us together. She was sweet, humble, kind, and brilliant. She was and is my sister and my friend.”

Francis’ scholarly work focused on American and African American literature, but she explored many genres, including science fiction, graphic novels and romance. She was also a passionate fan of all things Star Wars, an intense interest that she once described as an “irrational love.”

In fact, it was her interest in Star Wars that turned her on to the science fiction writing of Octavia Butler. Francis was the author of The Critical Reception of James Baldwin and the editor of Conversations with Octavia Butler.

“There are few words to express the significance of the loss of Conseula Francis to our College of Charleston family,” said College of Charleston President Glenn F. McConnell ’69. “Professor Francis was a remarkable human being – a passionate educator, a professor’s professor, and a true student advocate. She devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and had a tremendous impact on the many lives she touched, mine included. Conseula leaves a wonderful legacy behind at the College, and she will be greatly missed.”

Friends and colleagues on Monday took to the College’s internal social network to express their sorrow and to share fond memories of Francis.

Scott Peeples, professor and chair of the Department of English, said he was awed by Francis’ innate ability to connect with her students.

“Conseula’s humor, her candor, and her dedication to students inspired us all in the English Department and across campus.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a teacher whose classroom instincts were as strong or who had the kind of impact she had on students.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard or read the words `changed my life’ in reference to Conseula’s teaching,” said Peeples. “The word `passion’ is a little over-used these days, but Conseula had more of it than anyone I’ve ever known, for her students, her family, her friends, and for life itself.”

Claire Curtis, professor of political science, and Larry Krasnoff, professor of philosophy, said the College and the community have lost an extraordinary human being.

“Her extraordinary combination of intellect, wit, kindness, and fierce moral integrity will never be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have worked and studied with her,” said Curtis and Krasnoff. “Her loss leaves holes in the fabric of our institution and in the hearts of those who knew her that will be virtually impossible to fill.”

Francis, who was honored with the College’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011, was instrumental in the development and launch of the College’s African American Studies major in 2014. She explained the importance of starting such a program in a 2012 interview with College of Charleston Magazine.

“Charleston is too important in the history and culture of the African diaspora for us to ignore. We should be educating our students about that history and training them to document, preserve and tell that history themselves,” she said. “A major in African American studies will also help prepare students to live and work in diverse communities, whether it is the community right around us here at the College, or other communities anywhere in the world.”

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Resumania: Resume Reviews with Alumni and Employers

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 16 September 2016 | 8:16 am — 

resumania-with-logosBring several printed copies of your resume to this event and receive helpful feedback from alumni and industry professionals from a variety of fields. These individuals are interested in assisting and networking with CofC students and can help you get #CareerFairReady.

Drop-in and have your resume reviewed by alumni and representatives from a variety of companies who will be available to critique your final draft resume. Come with several copies of your resume! All students and alumni welcome.

Participating Companies: Benefitfocus, Boeing Dunhill Staffing, Fowler Hospitality, JTE Marketing Group, King Charles Inn, MUSC News Center, Patrick Properties, Sherwin-Williams, SPARC, SPAWAR, Stokes Automotive Group, Teach for America, TQL, The Dewberry, WCSC-TV/DT, Live 5 News, Wild Dunes.

Sponsored by the Career Center and Alumni Career Services.

by: Chelsea A. Reid

Image: projectinspired.com

Image: projectinspired.com

It’s no secret that we, as a society, are politically polarized, perhaps more than ever before. But what implications does this polarization have for your personal relationships? I asked the students in my online section of Social Psychology this past summer to identify situations in which they felt tension over disagreements with close others, and the examples were extensive. Students described disagreements with mothers over abortion, roommates over global warming, classmates over the confederate flag, close friends over racist remarks, mother-in-laws over politics in general, and close friends over Donald Trump, to name a few. One student impressively described how he attempted to reduce the tension over the disagreement. He tried to see the other person’s perspective, but he felt too strongly about his own stance. He tried to change the other person’s opinion, but couldn’t. Eventually he unfollowed and defriended the other individual on social media. Relationship terminated. This experience certainly isn’t unique to students. The New York Times recently published an article on couples whose marriages are being affected by a disparity in their political leanings.

Figure 1

Figure 1

What does Social Psychology have to say about all of this? First, attitude similarity predicts attraction (Byrne, 1961). In other words, you are more likely to pair off with someone to whom you are similar in the first place. However, attitudes do not necessarily remain constant throughout one’s life. Furthermore, individuals may come into contact with new targets about which attitudes may be formed, and these newly formed attitudes may differ from the attitudes of their partners. When a disagreement over an important issue does exist, you have to reduce that tension somehow. Heider’s (1958) Balance Theory explains that a relationship between an individual and another person are balanced and tension-free when they like one another and they are in agreement about an important issue (Figure 1) or when they dislike one another and they are in disagreement about an important issue (Figure 2). Put differently, you won’t feel tension when you agree with the people you like (e.g., you

Figure 2

Figure 2

and your spouse either both support Donald Trump or you and your spouse both dislike Donald Trump) and when you disagree with the people you don’t like (e.g., you and your roommate disagree about Donald Trump but you don’t like one another anyway). Tension occurs when you like another person, but you disagree with that person on an important issue (e.g., you and your spouse like one another, but one of you supports Hillary Clinton and the other supports Donald Trump; Figure 3).

When this imbalance in attitudes occurs, you have a few options to reduce the tension, which my previously mentioned student demonstrated nicely. First, you can attempt to change your own attitude about the issue. Maybe you start supporting Donald Trump to be in agreement with your partner? Second, you can attempt to change your partner’s attitude. Perhaps you can get your partner to abandon his or her support of Donald Trump and vote for Hillary Clinton instead? Third, you can change your attitude about your partner.

Figure 3

Figure 3

You and your partner could continue to support different candidates, but you might wind up viewing one another more negatively as a result. If one of you doesn’t feel very strongly about the issue, changing that attitude about the issue is probably the easiest route (Davis & Rusbult, 2001). Maybe you’re supporting Hillary Clinton and your partner is supporting Donald Trump, but your partner isn’t all that invested in politics. In such a scenario, your partner would be more likely to abandon his or her support of The Donald than ruin your relationship over something he or she doesn’t particularly care about anyway. Bonus: you’ll now like your partner even more for shifting toward your opinion (Reid, Davis, & Green, 2013)! But what happens if you and your partner disagree about Donald Trump and you both feel quite strongly about this issue? While the majority of individuals say that they’d be willing to date someone with opposing political views (Kofoed, 2009), romantic partnerships tend to last twice as long among partners who share political beliefs than among partners who hold opposing political beliefs (Bleske-Rechek, Remiker, Baker, 2009). In other words, a disagreement over strongly held political beliefs could be a deal breaker for your relationship. At some point, the tension might just be too much to overcome.

 

Bleske-Rechek, A., Remiker, M. W., & Baker, J. P. (2009). Similar from the start: Assortment in young adult dating couples and its link to relationship stability over time. Individual Differences Research7(3), 142-158.

Byrne, D. (1961). Interpersonal attraction and attitude similarity. The Journal of Abnormal and

            Social Psychology, 62, 713-715.

Davis, J. L., & Rusbult, C. E. (2001). Attitude alignment in close relationships. Journal of

            Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 65-84.

Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.

Kofoed, E. (2009). The role of political affiliations and attraction in romantic relationships: Why can’t we all just get along? Advances in Communication Theory and Research (Volume 2).

Reid, C. A., Davis, J. L., & Green, J. D. (2013). The power of change: Interpersonal attraction as a function of attitude similarity and attitude alignment. The Journal of Social Psychology, 153, 700-719.

by: Cora Webb (public health and women’s and gender studies double-major)

During the summer, I took my first plane ride across the world to participate in the College of Charleston’s first public health study abroad program hosted in Florence, Italy. From squeezing hands with my seatmate during takeoff to trying to avoid baggage fees for my overweight luggage, I encountered a continuous succession of new experiences that have altered my perspective of this world.

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Cora Webb studying abroad in Italy

As most believe, studying abroad (especially for the first time) gives students an opportunity to leave their comfort zone and establish themselves in a new environment, all while attempting to further develop their understanding of the culture they jumped into. I can now attest that this belief is true. While abroad, every day gave me the chance to reexamine my boundaries and opinions. When travelling to the various cities within Italy, such as Venice or Siena, I learned that no place or people can be thought of as homogenized, even if within the borders. As we travelled, we came to the realization that some of the standardized views people held were wrong. After climbing the Duomo, the famous church of Florence, it was easy to believe that religion was a central aspect of people’s lives. We came to realize that was not the case for a lot of people we met, many of which who had an issue with the Catholic Church and its role in the tax system. Moreover, someone also told us that they believed in God, but everything else was just imaginative stories. In those moments, we became enlightened on the similarities shared between our countries – beliefs are as individualized as people.

Studying abroad has heightened my receptiveness to and awareness of unfamiliar languages and social behaviors.  Prior to this endeavor, most, if not all of us students, never spoke Italian. This made our transition awkward and embarrassing, yet it gave us multiple learning experiences. One morning, when looking for a coffee shop before class, we stumbled upon a business that had its door open, but a chair was keeping it open. Being ignorant to the meaning of this, we came inside only to be confronted by an angry store owner who yelled at us so loud that we ran out the shop, puzzled and embarrassed. Even so, we learned something helpful: businesses open late and close early. This is only one of our multiple embarrassing situations that aided us in the scary, yet necessary process of becoming cultured.

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Cora Webb

Most importantly, this journey across the ocean taught me that you cannot push your culture and concepts on to other people. Ethnocentrism prevents us from completely engaging in any experience. Some students instinctively expected people to speak and understand English, which not only displays inattentiveness, but is insensitivity. The truth is, even though you may look and sound outlandish, people always appreciate you trying to understand their culture and beliefs. Being respectively inquisitive (without intrusiveness) shows thoughtfulness and can help you develop your interpersonal communication skills, as it has done for many of us. After asking if someone spoke English or trying to explain how I spoke little Italian, the best thing I could do was meet them where they were. With this being said, I took a lot of time using a book of translations and pronouncing words wrong, all of which taught me patience and gave me a greater appreciation for those who have taken the time to learn more than one language.

Just as I had to subdue my apprehension of flight, studying internationally pushed me to acquire the adaptiveness and flexibility needed to continue on, not only in a professional settings, but in life itself. This journey has gave me the confidence to pursue other opportunities that may seem out of reach. I appreciate all the time and resources that were given to achieve my longtime dream of studying abroad. None of the effort put into this experience was wasted or went unnoticed. I have arrived back in the United States as an improved version of myself. Although frightening, studying abroad replaced my anxiety with courage. Therefore, I am thankful I travelled overseas. The knowledge I now harbor will not just be my own to bear, but will be given to others as encouragement for them to achieve their aspirations, just as people encouraged me to achieve mines.

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