Comic Books and Caring:
A Spotlight on the English Department’s Team Player, Keri Crist-Wagner
For Keri Crist-Wagner, comic books aren’t just entertainment; they’re an educational resource.
Her passion for the genre started in her undergraduate career at the University of Massachusetts. After taking a comparative lit course focused on graphic novels and comic books, she was hooked. She went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in comic studies and later, her master’s degree, also in English. Currently, she is working on her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences, with a focus on using comic books as an educational tool to enhance student learning and examine real-world issues like racism, sexism and homophobia.
When she is not working on her Ph.D. research or teaching courses about comics, she can be found taking care of the various responsibilities she holds as the English Program Coordinator. These include planning each semester’s schedule of courses, advising freshman and transfer English majors and reviewing students’ Degree Works to avoid any conflicts as they approach graduation.
One of her favorite parts of her job is getting to interact with students.
“I love being surrounded by students. I like college students. I don’t understand why anyone would want to work at a university who doesn’t enjoy learning from them, talking with them [and] sharing information [with them],” she said.
This community-oriented view of her students extends to her colleagues as well. This spring, Crist-Wagner received the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities Dean’s Team Player Award. When asked what this award meant to her, she said, “It makes me a little teary to think about. I love my colleagues in the college. I base my job on relationships. I’m successful because I cultivate relationships with our faculty, with other faculty, with other registration coordinators and advisors, and to know that I’m successful in that and that that’s valued — it means a lot to me.”
Teamwork is one of the biggest parts of Crist-Wagner’s job. “I couldn’t do my job by myself. I depend on the relationships I have with our faculty advisors and they depend on me. This is not a job that you can do solo,” she said.
Even though this semester will be challenging for everyone, Crist-Wagner maintains her optimistic team-player outlook. She offers this encouragement to students as they manage these unprecedented times: “You can still make community. You can still be a part of something. Just because it’s a little different right now doesn’t mean that it’s gone away. The Clemson Family is still the Clemson Family.”
And if all else fails, you can take a page from Crist-Wagner’s book and curl up with a good graphic novel to escape into another world for a little while.
Written by: Taylor Summey