Nathan Carroll, Communication Studies Professor

Posted on January 16th, 2016 by

Nate won’t be able to join us at the April reunion of philosophy alumni, because he’ll be teaching in Ireland for the term. He sent us a note instead:

carroll2 As an alum update, I’m a tenured Associate Professor in the Dept. of Communication, Theatre and Art at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN where I developed the curriculum for and run the Film Studies program. I also teach a sublime aesthetics philosophy course, teach abroad in Ireland (this will be my second time), have served as Chair of Faculty Assembly and continue to organize, host and run the School of Arts & Letters faculty colloquium series at my college now in its ninth year. I also continue to publish in film journals and present at conferences.

I credit a large part of my continued academic success specifically to Doug Huff’s open-minded and strong character-building mentorship. Along with the late Ron Christenson (Pol Sci), both professors influenced my life in profound ways. As a professor myself, I can only hope to pay it forward. I have my MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from the Univ. of York in the UK, but switched to Cultural and American Studies for my combined PhD I received from the Dept. of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington in 2006.

I feel like Philosophy prepared me for a lifetime of academic interdisciplinarity by demonstrating the interconnectedness of all knowledge through the power of language. I particularly became enamored of the work of Michel Foucault who like so many other great contemporary philosophers is referenced constantly in cultural theory, which is key to contemporary film theory. Although I teach Film Studies (as art history, adaptation, industry, cultural artifacts, genre, auteur, etc.) my pedagogical approach is far closer to ‘Philosophy of Film,’ particularly where body politics and shifting conditions of knowledge regarding new media perception/reception are concerned.

I am proud to be a graduate of a program I stumbled my way in through an existentialism course all those many years ago. Not everyone thinks a paycheck is more important than a reflective life and I’m proud to be part of an academic tradition that values the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I remember and still use valuable ideas gleaned from writers like Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard in a daily basis. I learned that ‘meaning is use’ and how language connects everything. I remember how Doug taught me it was more important to ask a significant question than to pretend to arrive at eureka moments. He taught me that the best way to critique any argument is to give the opposition everything they want and only then see where it goes wrong. I still carry those lessons and that excellent philosophical education with me.

All the best; I hope the reunion is grand!

Nathan Carroll


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