Before joining the faculty at BSU, Rod was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of African American Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Rod’s interdisciplinary research and teaching focus on African-American literature and culture, with an emphasis on literary recovery and archival research.

What English classes do you teach?

This semester I’m teaching ENG215 and ENG250.

What attracted you to teaching at Ball State?

When I was researching jobs, the composition of the English department really appealed to me. I felt as if I could contribute to the great work and scholarship of BSU English. Once I did my interview and was able to visit, I felt like Ball State held quality students and faculty that I wanted to interact with.

How would you describe your teaching style?

Regardless of whether or not a student is eager to learn, I always try to meet them where they are. If you come into the classroom with a vast knowledge, there are opportunities for you to prove yourself and explore further. If you come in with less, I will always be available to answer questions and help you accomplish what you hope to do in my class. I want all of my students to open themselves up to gaining more knowledge.

What’s good advice that you might have for a student to succeed?

Your faculty members and professors are not intimidating, they want to see you do well. In light of that; we are people, we are approachable, and we want you to come to office hours. It seems to me that some students come to their professors only when there seems to be a problem that needs solving. To me, it doesn’t have to be like that. If you are able to break down those walls and interact in a beneficial way, it can truly help a student be successful.

Who are some important role models in your life?

On a personal level, it is my parents. My dad worked in the steel industry in Pittsburgh and my mother worked just as hard balancing the lives of my siblings and me. They both instilled a work ethic that informed my academic aspirations. I went to universities very similar to Ball State. Within both my undergraduate and graduate studies, there were a lot of faculty members who invested their time and energy in me. They helped to cultivate my work ethic into something more. But of course, I can’t name them all. There are so many positive forces that I have interacted with that have helped shape me into who I am today.”

Are there any special projects you’ve been working on?

The project that I have been working on has had many twists and turns throughout its time. I am piecing together the works of an African-American publisher Jas. H.W. Howard from Pennsylvania in the late 1800s to early 1900s. He was in conversation with many prominent black writers during the time and his magazine contained content from and about these people. In his magazine, he published a chapter of a serialized novel, one of which has never been in print beyond the magazine. By collecting these pieces, I want to show how African-American writers and periodicals at the time were doing significant cultural work for their readership. If I can completely piece together his periodicals, I feel that it could further expand our understanding of the racial discourse during that time. 

An interesting hobby you have?

I love cooking, golfing, gardening, and video games.