SOAL Hosts 2nd Annual Virtual Interdisciplinary Faculty Conference

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2022 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | Faculty/Staff | School of Arts and Letters

Macon, GA


For the second consecutive year, Middle Georgia State University’s School of Arts and Letters (SOAL) hosted the Virtual Interdisciplinary Faculty Conference. This year’s theme was “Adapting to a New Normal.”

More than 20 faculty members and one graduate student presented their scholarship and creative work to their peers. The interdisciplinary virtual conference was an all-day event on Friday, March 11, with eight different sessions. Faculty presented research and insight on the art of teaching. Topics ranged from the vocabulary of jazz, to giving good student feedback to the self-management of diabetes.

“In the past two years so many things have changed and challenged us as educators,” said Dr. Andre Nicholson, associate professor of media and communication and the conference’s main organizer. “Last year, we created this virtual conference as an opportunity for faculty to present their scholarly work that they could not present at conferences due to the pandemic or for those who just wanted feedback on projects in the works. The conference was a huge success last year and we thought it would be valuable to offer this platform again.”

What follows is a list of the presentations and the topics explored.

The first panel explored classroom strategies for encouraging students to engage with important academic concepts and/or techniques. Presenters discussed innovative assignments designed to deepen their students’ understanding of ideas and analytical approaches relevant to their disciplines: 

“Authentic Words: Teaching Writing through Images” - Karmen Lenz, Department of English

“Accessing Current Political Events: Utilizing the Internet in Comparative Politics Courses” - James D. Decker, Department of Political Science

“Directed Close Readings: Literature to Film” - Patrick Brennan, Department of Media, Culture, and the Arts I

Other Presentations 

“Connections between Speech Acquisition and the Jazz Language”

The jazz language is an important part of an improvising musician’s knowledge, and while many jazz educators and performers agree that the jazz language exists, there is little discussion on how and why it is considered a language. The jazz language closely correlates to the imitation in speech, especially in speech acquisition in children. Imitation in speech patterns is a part of the learning process and is very similar to the process of obtaining a rich jazz vocabulary. The focus of this review was to compare the process of obtaining a jazz vocabulary with speech acquisition in children and how children learn to speak through imitation. This research also supports the idea that using imitation in jazz, as in spoken language, can successfully facilitate creativity and originality. - Patrick Brown, Department of Media, Culture and the Arts

“The Runways (and the Models) Have No Clothes: Post-pandemic and Virtual Fashion”

When COVID-19 curtailed travel, business, and social gatherings, the fashion industry was disrupted in several ways, not the least of which was in the presentation of traditional runway fashion shows. At the height of the pandemic, these kinds of live/physical runway presentations were severely altered or entirely cancelled. This presentation examines virtual, unconventional fashion shows and designs both before and after the pandemic to consider the following questions: what might be gained—creatively, aesthetically, materially, and in terms of diversity, access and sustainability—by adopting virtual fashion shows and “virtual fashion” in general, and what, on the other hand, might be lost when we eschew “real” models and bodies and physical garments as we imagine new ways to dress and express ourselves? Has the pandemic changed the fashion industry’s understanding of using technology and embracing virtual fashion in any meaningful way? Are emerging virtual fashion projects hopeful new sites of creativity, inclusivity, and sustainability capable of challenging the traditional fashion system? - Loretta Clayton, Office of Graduate Studies

“Teaching Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in the Age of #MeToo”

The author explores a recent marked change in student responses to Measure for Measure, in response to the “new normal” of more frank conversation about sexual assault. Measure for Measure’s plot turns on woman threatened by a man in power. In fall 2017, upper-level Shakespeare students considered this play in the context of revelations that producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted and raped numerous women and the resulting #MeToo movement. In Fall 2017, conversation norms shifted dramatically, the presenter will discuss how students considered the conflicts between Isabella and Angelo with a focus more keenly trained on sexual assault and also consider how student perceptions have changed (or not) in the years since then. - Benita Huffman Muth, Department of English

“Afrikaner Religious Beliefs and Teaching about Reconciliation in South Africa”

This presentation examines the development of Afrikaner religious beliefs and considers approaches to using the writings of religious leaders to teach about healing and reconciliation in South Africa. Furthermore, it examines methods of teaching about Afrikaner identity and the process of reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa. As one piece, the presentation traces how Afrikaners developed and employed their religious beliefs, beginning with the Dutch East India Company founding its trading post at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and ending with the 19th century emergence of the distinct Afrikaner identity. The presenter argues that religion played an integral role in how Afrikaners viewed themselves and their relationship with indigenous South Africans. Additionally, the presenter is interested in how to teach contested, politically charged histories, focusing on Religions in World History. - Charlotte Miller, Department of History

“Testing the Limits of Evangelical Unity: How the 2014 World Vision Flip-Flop on Same-Sex Marriage Sowed the Seeds for the Rising Exvangelical Movement in American Christianity”

The term exvangelical has quickly become a buzzword in American Christianity, referring to people who have left the evangelical church in which they were raised. While the rise in numbers of ex-evangelicals in recent years may be attributed to a variety of factors, this project focuses on one instance of evangelical rhetoric reaching its limit as a turning point in the history of evangelicalism. In 2014, the organization World Vision announced they would lift a ban on same-sex relationships for employees. But only two days later, they reversed that decision due to financial pressure from powerful conservative evangelicals. Applying M. Lane Bruner’s rhetorical methodology of “limit work” to this case study shows the limits of societally accepted identity rhetoric. This paper examines the rhetoric of the organization World Vision and the growing exvangelical movement in American Christianity. - Christian Norman, Department of Media, Culture, and the Arts

“Jolly Targets, Old Maids, and Telegraph Boys: Beneficiaries of Progress and Abundance Exemplified in Late Nineteenth-Century Board Games”

In this paper, the presenter analyzes various games that depict race/ethnicity, gender, and class, and some of the origins, propagation, and dissemination of those ideals. The author argues that, much like the people who dominated the advertising agencies within this time period, manufacturers and designers of games controlled the messaging exhibited in both game play and the sale of games. Board game box covers, boards, instructions, and advertisements not only reflected cultural memories and tropes of race, gender, and class, but the games also served as a metaphor that narrowly defined American progress and abundance for a select few, particularly those of white and middle- or upper-class status. - Susan Asbury, Department of History

“There Is No You, There Is Only Me:” Nine Inch Nails, Descartes, and Solipsism in the Postmodern World

In Rene Descartes’s thought experiment in Discourse on Method, he famously proclaims the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” The Cogito (as it is often called) is one of philosophy’s most iconic statements. However, the logical road to the Cogito is a long one. Descartes must prove he exists, but then, do others outside of himself exist as well? I would like to pursue the train of thought that gets us to that point. The idea that the individual exists but questions the existence of others predates Descartes, but best represents itself in the Discourse. If we come to believe that others do not exist outside of us, what are the implications of this? Is the postmodern condition one of a near-constant state of solipsism? These are the questions I will be examining in this paper and presentation. - Caroline Black, Graduate Student, Master of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing Program, Department of English

“What Do I Have to Do to Get an A in This Class?” How to Give Good Feedback on Student Assignments

Giving students good feedback on their assignments is difficult; many teachers struggle to deliver feedback in a way that is useful to students without being overwhelming or overly critical. Good feedback is actionable and specific; it focuses on positives that instructors would like to see students replicate, and it points out areas of concern that students should improve. This presentation offers some concrete strategies for delivering good feedback to students and some exercises to help students implement the feedback that can be adapted to any discipline. - Lorraine Dubuisson, Department of English

“Hispanic Culture and Etiquette in the Spanish for Business Classroom”

One of the main goals that we as instructors should have when teaching a Spanish for business class is to talk about cultural aspects of the language including similarities as well as differences with the host language. This presentation proposes a series of activities in which students can get involved to highlight cultural aspects as well as etiquette that will be useful to them in dealing with business people from Hispanic countries including Spain. What kind of topics are considered appropriate in a business meeting and which topics should be avoided and many more will be discussed in this presentation. - Maritza Bell-Corrales, Department of Media, Culture, and the Arts

Keynote: “Practical Advice for Flourishing in Academia” - Cynthia Alby, Ph.D., professor of teacher education and lead developer of the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program

“Teaching, Research, Writing, and Issues of Accessibility to Writing Center Resources”

This roundtable panel will focus on demystifying the space of writing instruction on the level of tutoring by examining current issues plaguing classroom instruction on research and writing, both in the face-to-face traditional classroom and the online environment which creates its own hybridization of the traditional. What role can/does the Writing Center play in this space of instruction? Why do students resist visiting the writing center? What strategies work to ensure student attendance at Writing Center instructional events? Finally, why should instructors continue to invest in building student-faculty relationships in the writing center? - Sharon Colley, Derrilyn Morrison, John Murphy, and Marina Spears, Department of English

“An Innovative Approach to Preparing Senior Nursing Students for a Professional Environment”

Nursing students upon graduation are entering the professional workplace oftentimes for their first professional career. This workshop is designed to bridge the gap between the mindset of a nursing student into a novice professional nurse. The aim of this workshop is to better prepare nursing students with essential tools and skills such as: proper curriculum vitae or resume creation and interviewing techniques. This workshop has the potential to promote Middle Georgia State University’s nursing programs due to the assistance this workshop provides students with transitioning into the professional work setting. - Teri Jackson and Kristen Sulinski, Department of Nursing

“Diabetes Self-Management Education via Telehealth”

Diabetes is a chronic disease, contributing to premature death and disability worldwide. To prevent complications, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) are essential. A literature review supports the delivery of DSMES using telehealth. Telehealth services were limited before the COVID-19 pandemic. Objectives of this study were to determine patients’ satisfaction with DSMES by telehealth in their home; the impact on patients’ diabetes knowledge, glycemic control; and individualized patient goals. - Denise Adams, Department of Nursing

“Speculative Fiction and The Portrayal of Gender”

When it comes to portrayals of women in speculative fiction, the depictions are widely varied, ranging from the stereotypical that strangles women in traditionally conceived gender roles to the creation of nuanced, heroic roles that stray from these traditional conceptions of women. In fact, Holly Hassel, speaking specifically of fantasy, says, “Women have historically played very limited roles in these genres, often restricted to evil (or good) queens, beautiful princesses (and love interests), sorceresses, or mythical creatures like fairy queens” (106). Yet, despite these pitfalls, the portrayal of women across all genres of speculative fiction and across all media are changing. In light of these varied depictions, this roundtable panel aims to explore these varied characterizations of women across speculative fiction, particularly in works folk horror and fantasy, exploring the ways in which works can stereotype and can recreate roles for women. - Lisa Wenger Bro, Crystal O'Leary-Davidson, and Tracie Provost, Department of English

“Daniel and Nate”, Documentary Film Screening

In May 2020, AARP reported that an estimated 3.4 million youth are acting as caregivers in their households. These youth are often overlooked leaving them to navigate the complicated feelings of caregiving by themselves. They are at higher risk of dropping out of school and struggle with mental and physical health. Daniel and Nate is a short documentary film about Daniel Weppner and his experience as a caregiving for his young brother, Nate. By all appearances, Daniel is a typical, sarcastic teenager who loves football and video games. But for most of his life, Daniel has assisted his family as a caregiving youth, providing essential care for his younger brother who has autism. Daniel must navigate caring for his brother while also balancing things like dating, graduating, and planning for the future. - Lauren Cater, Department of Media, Culture, and the Arts