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Political Science Department Welcomes Dr. Briana McGinnis

Posted by: knottshg | April 5, 2018 | No Comment |

Dr. Briana McGinnis will be joining the Department of Political Science in fall 2018. Dr. McGinnis received her PhD in Government from Georgetown University and has been a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research and teaching interests focus on political thought and law, specifically in terms of citizenship, migration, and discipline/punishment. This fall Dr. McGinnis will be teaching Introduction to Political Thought and a special topics course on discipline and democracy. In the Q&A below, Dr. McGinnis shares what she’s looking forward to about her upcoming move to Charleston and the courses she’s excited to teach.

What excites you most about moving to Charleston?

I’m from Minnesota and have never lived further south than Washington, DC (where I went to graduate school), so I’m excited to be in a completely new natural and historical environment. Charleston is a beautiful city that has done a phenomenal job of preserving its historical architecture. I’m looking forward to both the new climate and getting to know more about the city’s heritage.

What are you most looking forward to about joining the Political Science Department at College of Charleston?

I am looking forward to teaching small classes! It’s much more practical to keep students actively involved with the material when classes are a manageable size, and small classes also allow for getting to know students over the course of a semester to a degree that just is not possible at institutions with very large classes.

Who is your favorite theorist to teach and why?

That’s a tough question; there are a lot of thinkers whose work I think is great, and there are also a lot who are fun to teach. In terms of sheer enjoyment to teach – I would have to say Thomas Hobbes. While his 17th Century language initially may be off-putting to first-time readers, once you become accustomed to it, he’s quite entertaining. Hobbes is a cantankerous grump picking fights with, well, basically everyone. Add to that his provocative picture of the political world, and what’s not to like?

If you could teach a class on any topic what would it be?

I would love, at some point, to offer a course on citizenship – both its history as a legal concept and how the idea is actually employed in liberal democracies.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I generally describe it as “conversational.” I try, to the greatest extent possible, to make each class meeting an active exchange.

What research projects are you looking forward to working on or are you working on right now?

I am looking forward to working on a book about how the collateral consequences of conviction (post-punishment legal restrictions like felony disenfranchisement) affect the experience of citizens after they have served their terms of punishment. Criminologists estimate that as many as one in three adults in the U.S. has a criminal record, and while not all those people will experience collateral consequences, we need to ask some difficult questions about how our criminal justice policies are undermining the equality we associate with a functioning democracy.

What is the biggest piece of advice you have for undergraduate students?

Undergraduates are busy, but your student years pass quickly! Take advantage of as much of the college experience as you can. When else in your life will you have the time and opportunities to do things like attend a public lecture? When you’re taking classes, keeping up on the reading and writing papers can seem like a chore, but I would encourage undergraduates to try to appreciate how great a privilege it is to be able to take this time to engage closely with ideas and issues.

What’s something about you that makes you unique?

For several years, I’ve collected antique cookbooks and I sometimes make the recipes. Some of them are delicious (pumpkin pudding with rosewater from 1868, for instance), others are… not. Let’s just say there was a period when savory gelatins were all the rage, and turkey in aspic (1936) is every bit as disgusting as it sounds.

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