Faculty Spotlight: Jamie Rogers
One of Clemson’s greatest endeavors is its encouragement for community through its programs, faculty and students, despite the many differences that are represented on campus. Walking across Library Bridge and seeing familiar faces of students and professors satisfies the greatest desire of Clemson: to create something more than a community–to create a family. This desire for familiarity and camaraderie is shared by the English Department, fueling our desire to share stories about our students and professors in order to make the University a little bit smaller and a little more like home.
This month, our spotlight is on Jamie Ann Rogers, a Visiting Assistant Professor of American and African American literature and international film here at Clemson. Being a California native, she completed her masters and Ph.D at the University of California, Irvine. Her various research interests include post-revolutionary American literature, international resistance films, postmodernism and realism. Having enjoyed Dr. Rogers as a professor last semester, I had the great pleasure of sitting down to interview her and getting to know her and her passions better.
What made you decide to be an English professor?
When I was in high school, I loved to read and I got really wrapped up in mostly Latin American novels of revolution–very romantic portrayals of revolution–and they kept me up at night in the way that they represent resistance and revolution. Needless to say, I was very idealistic. After that, I actually went into journalism first, because it was a place where I could write and I hoped work toward on issues related to social justice. Later, I went back to college and down the English studies route, which lead me here. Clemson kept coming up on my radar and I kept seeing openings, in particular for American literature and African American literature studies. I was lucky enough to end up here and it’s been really great so far!
How do you use this passion for American literature and African American literature studies to fuel your projects? Are there any projects you’re currently working on?
Right now I’m starting a new project on the Southern Sea Islands and I’m interested in the historic displacement of indigenous people there and the historic and contemporary displacement of the Geechee (sometimes called Gullah) people. These are residents of the islands off of South Carolina and Georgia who are descendants of enslaved peoples, and have been facing various forms of encroachment into their communities since the end of the civil war. In the contemporary moment, this is happening largely through tourism, developments–for example golf courses–and through environmental disasters. These places used to be neighborhoods and homes where people have been living and culture has thrived for generations. A lot of these homes are what are known as “heir’s property” and are passed down from family to family, but are now being lost.
I’m also working on a book manuscript on black literature and film on the Americas in a post-revolutionary context in order to unearth stories of revolution or civil unrest organized by the black community, particularly black women. These stories are usually erased from the narratives we hear everyday and its important to look through the holes in history. I’ve found that people of color, particularly women of color, are often at the forefront of these revolutions. Fights for liberation have been forged by the most oppressed peoples historically and what we read about revolution and resistance doesn’t tell that story.
With February being Black History Month, what is your first thought when you think “Black History Month?
That it shouldn’t be only one month. I’m grateful that there are celebrations going on and I’m glad that it gives a moment to think about the history of blackness in America in a more specific way than what happens daily, but I think it should be happening on an everyday basis. I think that non-black people get to refrain from thinking about blackness because it’s not something that we have to confront whereas black people have no choice but to be confronted by anti-blackness day-to-day. I’m glad there is a month to think about it specifically, but I think it also points to the problem that this should be something that is apart of our national conversation all the time.
Is there a specific black woman or man from history that inspires you?
Toni Morrison is who I go back to over and over again. Morrison’s “Beloved” is what made me decide to do English studies because her work is so beautiful and heartbreaking, and it tells the stories that can only be told imaginatively. She also has a text called “Playing in the Dark” that an entry into the American literary canon in the context of race and U.S. identity. It inspires me to always think about my own position as a white person and the ways in which I am part of this system of oppression, and helps me to consciously always try to work against that.
Written By: Abby Nommay