Teaching Philosophy

My teaching exists at the intersection of the Cinema and Media Studies, Digital Humanities and social justice, with an emphasis on issues of cultural diversity and global inclusion. My upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses include History of European Motion Picture, Embodiment, Technology and Difference, Visual Culture and Migration and Visual Art.

History of European Motion Picture

This course is an introduction to the European cinema, from the late 19th century to the present. While the course surveys the major aesthetic and technological contributions of the French, Russian, Italian, Germany and Spanish cinemas, we will begin by acknowledging the multiple and transnational origins of film. Throughout the course we will address the following questions: “What is Europe?” and “What constitutes a European film?” These initial questions will allow us to interrogate the idea of a national cinema and its relation to the construction of national identity. Within the last four decades, Europe has become a destination for migrants from non-Western European nations. Contemporary patterns of migrancy have led to debates regarding the borders of “Fortress Europe” and to the emergence of new migrant cinemas that speak to the changing demographics of European nations. This survey will begin with the early cinema and silent era, and then examines the major movements, aesthetic, technological and industrial innovations from various European national cinemas within the 20th and 21st centuries. Our selected films will be placed within their broader historical, social and cultural contexts, particularly the World War I and II, interwar, Cold War and post-Cold War eras. We will also engage issues of globalization, digital media technologies and media convergence and their impact our understanding of European cinemas in the 21st century.

Embodiment, Technology, Difference

In this research seminar, we will explore theories of embodiment in film and the visual arts. Specifically, this course will examine cultural production that seeks alternate ways of conceiving the corporeal body and by extension, the concept of the human. We will begin by exploring a range of theoretical challenges to the mind/bod dualism of Western liberal humanism, including feminist, constructionist, queer, and critical theories of race. We will then examine various modes of embodiment and embodied experiences as represented in film, performance practice, and virtual reality and site-specific performance.

Visual Culture

Based upon the interdisciplinary field of Visual Studies, Visual Culture introduces theories and methodologies from art history, film and media studies, and cultural studies in order to examine “seeing” as a practice that produces knowledge and hierarchies of power. Migration and Visual Art examines the ways in which artists explore themes of migration and cultural displacement in our current period of globalization. As an assistant professor of Conceptual Studies in the UWM Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres (2007-2009), I taught introductory large lecture and advanced/upper-division film courses, including The Film Experience, an introduction to film history and aesthetics, the science fiction genre and auteur theory and criticism.

Italian Cinema and the African Diaspora

In this research seminar, we will examine the influence of the African diaspora upon the Italian national cinema. Because of its geographic proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has become a primary site for debates concerning African and other non-Western immigration to the European Union within the last forty years. While postwar non-Western migration to Italy has led to a body of documentary, experimental and narrative fiction films that represent the demographic shifts, political responses, and the human tragedies of contemporary migration, this course will chart a broader historical trajectory (beginning with the 19thcentury post-Unification “Southern Question” and modern Italian colonialism in north and east Africa) for our analysis of key filmic texts and movements within the Italian cinema. To this end, the seminar will examine recent methodological, historiographical and theoretical interventions within Italian Film Studies, including postcolonial and critical theories of race and representation, which elaborate the ongoing dialogue between the African diaspora and the Italian cinema. The course will be divided into four modules: Italian liberal and fascist colonial periods; the WWII and immediate postwar era; the postwar economic boom period; and the contemporary (1970s) era. This course will deal primarily with Italian cinema and the African diaspora within Italy; however, students are encouraged to develop their own research interests as they pertain to the seminar’s primary topic.

Multicultural America

In my pedagogy, I use digital media production to foster a critical interrogation of racial and ethnic identities in global visual culture that is grounded in experiential learning. For over eight years, I have taught ART 150: Multicultural America, the core course in the UW-Milwaukee Cultures and Communities Certificate Program. This course introduces “race” as a social construct that is challenged and re- articulated within given historical, economic, and political conditions, and is attentive to the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

ART 150 includes a service-learning component in which students extend their classroom experiences through structured digital media projects completed at Milwaukee-based organizations. My students have worked with neighborhood revitalization projects, bilingual public school programs, and refugee aid/resettlement organizations. In keeping with this theory/practice pedagogy, I have designed digital media assignments using mobile and cloud-based technologies, including digital storytelling, photo essays, and remix projects, that allow students and our community partners to become media producers, and thereby produce “new narratives” of cultural identity.

Migration and Visual Art

This upper-division course examines themes of migration and cultural displacement in contemporary visual arts. The course examined how artists have documented transnational movements and encounters in our current era of globalization, and how migration transforms our understanding of the nation, its citizens and its borders. Topics include cultural imperialism, virtual labor, refugee/exile, and border crossings.