I teach courses on culture, creative work, the global film industry, and contemporary Chinese society at Colby College. I seek to empower my students by equipping them with the tools to develop a sociological eye, attain academic excellence, and become engaged citizens.
Sociology of Creativity
Creativity occurs everywhere, all the time: aspiring rappers learn to freestyle, elite chefs design new dishes, and artists create pieces for an exhibit. By examining the social dynamics of creative work, we will explore why creativity is inherently collective, how creativity is judged and experienced, and how “cool” creative jobs can also generate inequality. We will compare research on creativity in various domains – artistic practices, creative industries, ordinary life, and organizations – in sociology and neighboring disciplines (e.g., anthropology) to identify common phenomena and better understand how creativity shapes all our lives.
Sociology of Hollywood
How did Hollywood films transform from entertainment to art? Who are the villains in action movies? How do minority actors and directors “make it” in Hollywood? Does Hollywood still dominate global film markets? Hollywood is a popular topic that spans areas of the sociology of culture, race, organizations, and globalization, serving as a window to examine various social problems. This course examines sociological research on the production, distribution, and reception of Hollywood film and television. We will explore various social forces such as cultural gatekeeping, racial hierarchies, globalization, and censorship, examining how these processes affect what Hollywood brings to the big screen.
Sociology of Culture
Culture is one of the most complicated and contentious words in the English language. From the world of Little League baseball to VIP nightclubs, from feeding the pigeons to hiring practices at top-tier consulting firms, culture is everywhere and everything. But what exactly is culture? And how can we study it? The Sociology of Culture introduces students to one of the largest subfields within sociology, examining how culture shapes and is shaped by the social world. We first explore what constitutes culture (e.g., norms, values, beliefs, rituals) and where to find culture (e.g., groups, organizations, cities, nations, globalization). Then, we focus on “culture+” to understand culture’s structuring forces when it intersects with identities, inequality, emotions, and power.
China and the World
This course examines contemporary Chinese society in light of globalization, emphasizing both the global influence on China and China’s impact on the world. Primarily taking a sociological perspective, we analyze various topics: urbanization, migration, ethnic relations, civil society, religious revival, collective memory, gender and sexuality, new youth, social media and culture, environment crisis, among others. Coupling academic and popular works, the course aims to demystify contemporary Chinese society by primarily showing real people doing real things. The goal is to provide the students with new perspectives to better engage with a country that is reshaping the world.