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Bridging the disciplines: literature, media, politics, gender and cultures

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By Laura Pohl, Contributing Writer

Novia Pagone, associate professor at Governors State University (GovState), is an expert at weaving together a web of disciplines to build important connections for her students. 

Their understanding of how literature, media and politics intersect motivates Pagone’s teaching and scholarship. She approaches her research and teaching from a cultural studies perspective, encouraging students to connect their daily lives with the concepts discussed in class.

“The knowledge (my students) bring to the classroom and the knowledge they produce in their course work are vital to creating a brighter and less oppressive future,” she said. 

Pagone teaches in the Latin American Caribbean and Latina Latino Studies program and the Global Studies minor in the Division of Arts & Letters. Her courses include literatures, media, and cultures of Spain and Latin America; Spanish language; Interdisciplinary Humanities (First Year Seminar); media studies, and gender and sexuality studies. 

In addition, Pagone now teaches a new class, Latinx Representation in Media, which was first offered this spring 2024 semester. “This course aims to introduce students to digital humanities tools to study the representation of Latinx communities and culture in the media, and to study media stories that are created by folks in the Latinx communities,” she said. 

Her expertise and interest in media motivated her to become the interim director for The Center for Community Media (CCM) at GovState. This production, teaching and research center aims to promote, develop, foster and support community access broadcasting to serve the digital information needs of the campus and Southland communities. “We produce educational and local public service media with a focus on listening to and telling the compelling stories that connect local experience to state, national, and global issues,” she explained. 

Pagone also helped create a Spanish minor for GovState because, “it enhances opportunities for students, both while they’re at the University and after they graduate.” 

Her goals include getting students involved in cultural experiences, whether it’s Study Abroad, participating in Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) events, or taking trips to areas like Pilsen to experience the art and food. “GovState’s commitment to a diverse student body is what drew me here—not just racial diversity, but also age and generational, which isn’t something you see at every university.”

Recent accomplishment:  Novia Pagone received tenure in June 2023, capping six years of teaching, research and publishing as a faculty member at GovState.

GovState Newsroom: What drew you to your field of study?

My previous experience in politics made me curious about how public discourse and collective identities (like national identities or feminist identities) functioned in other countries, specifically in Spain, especially during times of transition from dictatorship to other forms of government. I studied literature in Spanish and my current area of research focuses on women writers in media, film, and literature in 20th and 21st century Spain.

GovState Newsroom:  What are some of the most interesting topics of study you have researched and/or presented in the classroom? How are they relevant to what’s happening in the world today?

In spring 2023, I taught a course focused on dictatorships and their aftermath in Spain and Latin America through film. We focused on Spain, Chile, and Cuba. The class discussed how non-democracies come to be, types of non-democracies, and how specific examples have been represented on film. Students made connections to what’s happening in the world today, including here in the United States with the increasing polarization of our two-party system and the ongoing systemic racism, sexism, and other inequalities in our society. We discussed how corrupt leaders aim to consolidate power and undermine the system for their own benefit. Most importantly, we learned about how other cultures have dealt with rebuilding trust after long-term dictatorships and collective trauma. 

GovState Newsroom: What motivates you as a faculty member?

My students motivate me. Their questions and intellectual curiosity keep me going—their enthusiasm and dedication sustain me as a faculty member.

GovState Newsroom: What is your favorite book? Streaming show on television?

As a student of literature, I have so many favorite books. The most recent book I’ve read that I now keep on my desk is “Living a Feminist Life” by Sara Ahmed. I highly recommend it.

I recently watched the latest season of “Glow Up: The Next Makeup Star.” I enjoy it because I love to see people succeed at doing what they love.

GovState Newsroom: What do you love most about GovState? 

Our students and the wide-ranging and thought-provoking conversations we have.