Ari Page is new professor here at Ball State under the English department. Being a new professor to Ball State, they strive to understand the intricacies of teaching and how to connect with their students. They love scary movies, and they always wish a few more moments with their precious cat. They push for their students to live in the moment and pursue their passions at Ball State while they are here.
How would you describe your perspective on teaching?
I am pretty new to being a professor, so I’m still trying to pin down my exact pedagogical style. Right now, I’m trying to test the waters and see what works and what does not. With that, I am very big on transparency and openness with my teaching. I want my students to feel like that can talk to me about anything and know that I’ll always be understanding. I also try to give my students a say in what we learn and how we do it. Teaching is just as much about what they are eager to learn as what I am here to teach them. So, I try to make the learning process as collaborative as possible.
Are you working on any projects at the moment? Is it purely for your study or something that will influence your teaching?
I’m currently working on a paper about Stranger Things and how its fans resist the spectacle of cringe. When the season first aired, it seemed as though everyone loved a particular character named Eddie. Then there was a switch, almost overnight, where fan videos and cosplays of Eddie became “cringe.” I’m looking at how that kind of switch happens and how fans may push against antagonism to continue sharing their passions. I can’t say that this directly relates to my teaching, but I try to bring pop culture moments like big TV shows and current events into my lessons. I’m a professor for Rhetoric and Writing, and I want to show my students how rhetoric can be found in these major cultural moments. Maybe I can sneak in a Stranger Things moment somewhere down the line.
What are you currently reading, if anything?
I regret to say I am not reading anything. Does fanfiction count? My primary research area is fan studies, so I spend a lot of time combing through fan works and trying to think of something intelligent I can say about them. I think the last book I read was Black Chalk by Christopher Yates. Very mysterious, highly recommend.
What are your hobbies or interests?
I am big movie person, especially horror movies. I spend a lot of my time watching scary movies with my cat. Maybe my next project can be about horror fandom… I also enjoy medieval literature, writing, and music. I have been known on occasion to enjoy a good hike, but I haven’t found the best hiking trails in the area yet.
Who are your biggest role models and how did they influence your goals and career?
One of my biggest influences was my high school history teacher. He was an eccentric older gentleman who was prone to telling long-winded jokes and teaching rather offbeat lessons. Once, he had us eat bugs he cooked on a hot plate at the front of the class. I still remember his floral apron in vivid detail. He left a lasting impact on me through that (especially as a vegetarian), but he was also one of the few teachers that I felt really understood me. I came out in high school and that was its own can of worms (or hot plate of bugs), and he would check in with me and make me feel validated. If I didn’t have teachers like that, I don’t know how I would have gotten through school.
It’s people like him that I really look up to and hope to be like one day. I want students to feel like I’m someone they can turn to if they are struggling and don’t know where else to go, and I want my classroom as a new professor is to feel like a space where everyone is welcome. I think that learning can only really happen if students feel comfortable first, so I always make an effort to prioritize mental health and general wellbeing before all else.
What is a piece of advice you would offer students?
Try your best to be in the moment. College is a very fast-paced environment, so it can be easy to feel as if time is passing you by faster than you want it to. Keep up with your work of course, but also use this opportunity to pursue the things that you love and find new passions. Join clubs, go to school events, volunteer for causes that you care about. Don’t be afraid to slow down sometimes and remember that you’re here to learn—and that includes learning about yourself. For example, I wish I had taken music and/or screenwriting classes as an undergrad. They had nothing to do with my major (English lit), but I wish I had used that opportunity to explore more of my interests.
Let’s welcome Ari Page to Ball State University!