I’ve always enjoyed films. Perhaps not more than television and definitely not more than books, but it comes in a close third (though to be fair, if my family had watched anything other than sports 24/7, movies may have stood a better chance against the books). I have this distinct memory of being in my early twenties, living in Kankakee, IL (a place I believe Jay Leno once referred to as the “armpit of America”), and managing a shoe store where I worked upwards of sixty hours a week. I had decided to go back to school, and my brother had agreed to help me move back home, but the only day he could come and collect all of the heavy stuff was about three months before I was actually going to be able to move home. So, for three months I lived without a television (I don’t even think I had a radio). I honestly didn’t notice much because I was so busy at work, but one weekend, right before I left, I decided to take myself to the movies. I have recollection of what I saw, but I remember it being the most magical experience ever.
Like many of the projects I work on, I more or less fell into film. I started in mythology and moved into fairy tales during undergrad. When I was applying for MA programs, I realized I was going to have expand a bit (I mean, fairy tales isn’t a huge field) and as I looked back over my body of work, I realized that everything that I had ever written had been with a feminist lens. So, I fell into feminist theory; it felt right to me and I began to further envision ways in which I could synthesize my two areas of study. I knew I wanted to continue my work on fairy tales and feminism, but I also knew that I wasn’t really content working with the “classic” fairy tales and fairy tale authors. I wanted to work with the fairy tales that we are reading and watching in the now; the ones that we revise over and over to better fit, reflect, and perhaps speak back to current cultural moments. And since fairy tales were moving back into the media in force (Once Upon a Time, Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman, Grimm, etc.), I decided to start taking film classes.
Then, I just sort of continued to take film classes. I enjoyed the freedom it gave me to branch out and talk about other feminist/gender issues (that weren’t confined to the fairy tale), and I met some really amazing people that I wanted to work with. I really love the opportunity that film and media studies provide to work with pop culture. For me, if you break it down to its moving parts, working in film and media studies is like studying a snapshot of culture taken at a specific moment. It’s about identifying trends and ideals and the impact they have (or had) on us; or, it’s about looking at how our movies question and/or challenge those trends and ideals and for what purpose (or to what end). Ultimately, I think, movies are our mirrors.