It was mid-morning on Thursday, April 15, 2010, when I received a phone call from Norah Schultz offering me a tenure-track position in what was then the Department of English, Communications, and Theater Arts at Arcadia University. I think back on that moment often, and not just for the pleasure of nostalgia. I do so to remember how privileged I am, in the context of a historically catastrophic academic job market, to work at an institution that fosters and enhances my aspirations as an educator, as an academic researcher, and as a believer in the value of intellectual community. There were, I know, hundreds of other qualified young scholars (many of them my friends and colleagues) who could have been offered the same job I was offered. In addition, I remember that April morning to remind myself that the things that got me to that point—teaching with both intellectual rigor and enthusiasm, participating in academic as well as public discussions about the role of media and popular culture in constructing our political and social realities, using new technology to make my teaching and scholarship more accessible, and helping to build campus intellectual and cultural organizations from the ground up–are the things Arcadia hired me to do for the rest of my career.
Though the learning curve over the past five years has been sometimes steep and often uneven, I can say with conviction that I have maintained the commitments that got me to this point, and have begun to meet new challenges and seek even higher standards. This positive trajectory was affirmed in my third year review, which found my teaching “excellent,” my publication record as “good” and my service “exemplary.” In the time since that review, I have continued my efforts to be a valuable and reliable contributor to Arcadia—someone that has earned the respect of students, staff, colleagues, and other members of the university community—and a scholar who makes a significant impact in the field and disciplinary institutions of media studies.
In this dossier, I have attempted to summarize my contributions to the university community thus far, under the customary headings “Teaching, Mentorship and Curriculum,” “Scholarship and Publication,” and “Service.” However, some of the most significant accomplishments in my career resist such attempts at simple categorization. My work with the students of Loco Mag, for example, was both the product of a university service project (“Recommendations for Campus Media”) and the close relationships I had built through departmental student advising. Large portions of my book, Back to the Fifties, were informed by my experience teaching a university seminar on soundtracks. And my work implementing a mobile conference app at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies was influenced by my experimentation with new technology with students in the classroom. While such imperfect categories are useful in providing a standard form and structure for assessing the contributions of individuals across diverse fields, disciplines, positions and curricula, they have their limits. As our university makes “integrative learning” a key part of its curriculum, this narrative will attempt to sketch out the integrative connections between these standard categories, and highlight the different ways I have attempted to make a difference at Arcadia.
As a final note, I wish to sincerely express my gratitude to my department, college, and the university for giving me the opportunity to develop as a teacher, scholar, and community member over these past three years. I will continue to try to fulfill the promise that led to that phone call in April 2010, and look forward to continuing my relationship with Arcadia University in the years to come.