Chuck Jackson, assistant professor of English, channels his passion for cinema into his roles as a teacher, researcher and academic coordinator at the University of Houston-Downtown.
In addition to teaching traditional English courses such as Composition and American Literature, Jackson teaches undergraduate cinema-related courses as part of the University's new Film Studies minor, introduced in the fall 2010 semester.
"One course within this minor, Introduction to Film Studies, is my favorite course to teach, "Jackson said. "I choose films to study that will hook students and that are intelligent, edgy, experiential and complicated."
Last fall, students studied Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times," Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" and Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" among other films.
"We aren't just watching films in this course, but really studying them, their genres, different film theories and the experiences of watching these films," Jackson said.
Jackson was instrumental in creating the new Film Studies minor, an interdisciplinary program that combines courses in communications, humanities, sociology, Spanish and English. He now serves as the program coordinator and manages the course schedules. He also hosts film festivals and series and maintains a social media presence for the program. He says one goal of the program and the events is to reach film lovers on campus and across Houston.
Jackson encourages all UHD students to consider taking film studies courses because they're engaging and interesting classes that also round out a liberal arts degree.
"This degree is also attractive to employers because it proves students are able to think critically, and be creative, organized and analytical," Jackson said.
In addition to teaching and coordinating the minor program, Jackson is also conducting research that examines how writers and filmmakers represent the country during states of emergency. The project focuses on the African-American fiction writer, Richard Wright, and the 1960s horror film genre.
"I want to analyze how these people talk about time and space during emergencies and how these works reflect the cultural and national changes of the times," Jackson said.
Jackson has always been interested in ideas and being creative. He attended Syracuse University for an interdisciplinary degree that involved studying film and new media, and he received his doctorate degree from Rice University. After working at UHD as an adjunct instructor during graduate school, he joined the faculty full time in 2005. He received the UHD Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009.
He credits the University's student body for his passion for teaching.
"I love working here because the students are endlessly energetic and engaging, "Jackson said. "The intellectual rigor of these students is on par with the greatest universities in the country, and it is a privilege to work here with them."