CMC Professor talks social justice

Rollins CollegeDr. Lisa M.Tillmann, Professor of Critical Media and Cultural Studies at Rollins College, has penned a new book, In Solidarity; Friendship, Family and Activism Beyond Gay and Straight. To celebrate her book release, there will be a reading, signing, and reflection on Thursday, March 26, from 4-5:30.

On the book’s website, the book is described as, “Deep, committed, and loving relationships across lines such as class, nation, sex, race, religion, ideology, ability, age, gender, and sexual orientation can help light the way toward a more equitable and just society. It shows what being an ally requires, means, and does.”

Dr. Tillmann would like her book to reach a wide audience; “One of my goals, and it’s a difficult tightrope to walk, is wanting the book to be something that could be effectively used in Undergraduate and Graduate classrooms, everything from research methods, narrative writing to LGBTQ+ studies. Then also having the book be an engaging and accessible way to have somebody in a non-academic environment find it appealing. My Uncle Steve told me of my first book, Between Gay and Straight, that it was literally the only book he ever read cover to cover. So I want to bridge what is sometimes a gap between an academic and a lay audience. For some academic readers, it maybe won’t have the theoretical sophistication that they want; its purpose is not to advance theory. It’s meant to be engaging.”

Dr. Tillmann explains how her beginnings inspired her literary and academic work; “When I was doing my PhD field work, at the time I began I was a relatively naïve 23 year old graduate student, having grown up in a small town in Minnesota with conventional ideas about sexuality and sexual orientation. Then falling into this network of gay male friends, and becoming attached to them personally and then writing my PhD dissertation about them. What I came out of that was a very different way of looking at the world, a raised consciousness. When I got my job here and I met Kathryn Norsworthy, in Graduate Studies and Counseling, Kathryn and I were part of the first standing committee on diversity at Rollins. She and I helped bring to campus a number of social action trainers and policy initiative changes such as adding Gender Identity and Expression to our Equal Opportunity policy.”

Dr. Tillmann has been working diligently on an initiative that could potentially change the face of Rollins College and their social justice endeavors.

She says, “I’ve been working with a group of faculty, most closely with Kathryn Norsworthy, she and I are co-coordinating a group of faculty that we’re calling the Rollins Action Network. We are also supporting staff and student constituencies to form, the thinking would be that this would be a group of people interested in social justice initiatives on campus, but predominantly off campus, local, state, national and global issues. The constituencies would meet on a monthly basis and then subcommittees would form on particular initiatives.”

How can Rollins students get more involved in these issues?

Dr. Tillman reflects, “Most of us occupy at least one dominant or privileged group, and most of us have a status that is historically marginalized. I think for a lot of us our own work begins with our own oppressed status and that’s definitely true for me, being exposed in college to feminism, sexism and issues of misogyny, seeing the world through that lens. It’s not ethically responsible to stop our analysis there; I want to encourage people to do their own work and also to take that next step and assessing how we mobilize that raised consciousness into concrete policy and social change.”

Be sure to sign up for her Critical Media & Culture Studies class in Fall 2015, Incarceration & Inequality. This class focuses on how class, race, nationality and sex work within the cogs of the justice system and the repercussions that ensue thereafter.

Also, visit the website for the book at: http://www.insolidaritybook.com/ for more information.

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