HCMS hires new media professor, expands curriculum

By Katie Havranek

The newest face in the Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies department, Professor John Kim, has begun his year with enthusiasm. Kim, who got his undergraduate degree from Williams College and his graduate from Stanford University, was hired in March to expand the HMCS course curriculum to include new media studies.”The department is small-tiny in fact. I was hired for my background and experience with new media, but I hope to provide to students instruction in a wide range of other topics not represented given how small the department is,” Kim said.

Kim said he hoped to create strong links with other departments such as the International Studies, Art and English departments. He reports that, thus far, his transition into the HMCS department has been smooth and the other professors in the department have been “awesome.”

Kim emphasized his desire to teach the potential of new media to increase and expand collective action. “Increasingly, consumers are becoming producers, and there is a call for people in general to become active creators and making ideas available to the public,” he said.

Most recently, Professor Kim was on a visiting residency in New Delhi where he worked on art projects that had previously “been in the works for years now.” Though it has been difficult to resume teaching after focusing on scholarly works for the past 8 months, Kim said he was excited to be back in a liberal arts environment.

“The liberal arts education has always been a model that I’ve been inspired by,” said Kim, “Grad school was a disappointment and a radically different approach to teaching. . I felt like a priest that mediated the relationship between professor and student. I was quickly disenchanted by having to play that role.”

Kim said that, after only a few days of class, he hopes to cater his teaching methods to better suit the Macalester students. “Teaching at the University of San Fransisco was different because of its size but also because of the abilities of the students . whereas my role was to make sure the students grasped and understood the material. Here I take that as an assumption and allow the students to be playful and critical of the material.”

Kim also said that it would take more time-over a year-to fully integrate new media into the classroom and gain the software necessary. He said he understands the excitement to do new media work and doesn’t want to “disappoint the students.”

Macalester’s dedication to the liberal arts is not the only draw for Kim; the urban environment of the Twin Cities offers opportunities that are essential to a new media studies professor. Although Kim has only been in the cities for two short weeks, he said he was already impressed with the “top notch” independent galleries such as the Soap Factory. He also hopes to include Macalester in the Spark Festival and even harbors hopes of opening his own gallery-he has already looked for possible locations.