Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
What are your research objectives and interests?
One of my research initiatives is Texas Film Cultures, an oral history project where I investigate the social and cultural significance of films and film-going in Texas communities. The very structure of the project is integrated, as it depends on engagement with the community, and I have incorporated oral history training into my teaching so that my students can also contribute to the collection and make use of oral history in their own research. Thus far I have designed three courses to include oral history assignments, including a service-learning section of English 2388: Introduction to Film which I offered in Spring 2014, partnering with Carillon Community. Students have responded with great enthusiasm to these exercises, and several have subsequently completed undergraduate research projects through independent studies and internships, investigating such topics as drive-in cinemas, media culture in the U.S. Marine Corps, and film culture in Latino communities.
What types of service projects have you been involved with?
This March, I was a Trip Advisor for the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement (CALUE) Service Break trip to the Texas Sea Life Center in Corpus Christi where we supported the center's efforts to rescue and rehabilitate marine wildlife and to study and preserve their habitats. I am also involved with several initiatives to foster dialogue among Texas Tech faculty and students and the larger Lubbock community, including the Sexism/Cinema film series at the Alamo Drafthouse and a lecture series at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. Further, as a Service Learning Faculty Fellow Mentor, I assist faculty who are working to incorporate service learning projects into their curriculum.
What are you currently working on?
I have several projects underway including an edited collection on visual culture and 19th Century games and a book manuscript on IMAX films. I am also working to expand a component of my oral history project, looking specifically at media in the context of military culture. I am collecting interviews with veterans where they speak about the ways they consumed and created media such as films, photography, TV, and music during their careers.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Much of it comes from my teaching. For example, one of the reasons I became interested in oral history was from hearing my students' accounts of their own families' personal media histories. In one of my classes, I had asked students to ask their relatives about their first memories of watching movies at home, and the resulting stories included fascinating details about, for example, media in rural communities. These kinds of stories are rarely included in histories of media, and my projects seek to remedy that.
What advice do you have for new faculty members about balancing the components of Integrated Scholarship—teaching, research, and service—in their careers?
Integrating the components of one's professional life is not only rewarding, but also it can be efficient as well. Academic work can be a complex balancing act because one's responsibilities are so variable and require such different skills, so it's ideal if they can support one another.
More about Allison Whitney
I am an associate professor of film and media studies in the Department of English, and the director of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Film and Media Studies. I hold the Ph.D. in cinema studies from the University of Chicago, and my publications have focused on film genre, sound studies, film technologies, approaches to film pedagogy, and dance in German silent film.