I majored in literature and fiction writing as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College, and it was my love for storytelling that led to a career in journalism.
As a journalism professor, I believe in “making students think,” as was once suggested to me by University of Missouri emeritus professor John Merrill. What drives students to become good storytellers is a desire to be an explorer—a curiosity and open-mindedness about new places, different worlds, new perspectives and ideas. More fundamental than the knowledge that comes with education is a thirst for knowledge. By instilling these values, education can improve one’s social consciousness, and not only fosters a sense of commitment to one’s community or society, but can even heighten sensitivities about one’s interpersonal relationships as well.
My research into the history of American media coverage of the Middle East investigates not only American reportage and literary journalism, but also the misapprehensions and propaganda that have colored America’s fraught relationship with this pivotal region. There is a large gap in historical study on the subject, so it offers much promise for compelling, original research. My published studies, conference papers and forthcoming book based on my dissertation Ben Hecht: The First Tough Jew, represent an effort to map out a future course for my work.
Media history has given me insight into the rapid changes occurring in mass communications today. My scholarship has been an inquiry into the power that media have to stir passions and instigate events, and into the ways that people use media. It has been a source for ideas about new directions in storytelling—augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive narrative—that I will explore as both teacher and scholar.