This fall, Jason Owens became one of three new faculty members to join the English Department. We asked him to tell us about himself and what he brings to FMU.
Q. Tell us a little about your research. In what areas do you research? What was your dissertation about? Any future plans?
My research interests include Black social and political thought, the systemic, institutional, and technological forms of violence against youth in the United States, and the impact/influence of privatization/corporatization on operations, curriculum implementation, and values orientations in public schools. My dissertation focuses on social reconstruction theory in education, particularly the work of Theodore Brameld, and the theory’s radical instructive influence on the values, vision, and mission of public education in the United States. In the future, my research plans are to engage social reconstruction philosophy with different areas of youth culture. I plan to offer social reconstruction theory as a force to defend violent capitalistic onslaughts against the youth, as well as offer awareness to the contemporary crises that endanger this most vulnerable and targeted group.
Q. How might students explain your teaching style or your course? What can students expect of you in the classroom?
Students often explain my teaching style as free-flowing, passionate, and current. One of the chief components in social reconstruction is to facilitate a form or approach of problem-posing. I seek to trouble the waters, to move into, survey, examine, and reflect on uncomfortable spaces, and hopefully to achieve a measure of growth or develop successful solutions to the many critical problems that confront contemporary society. I tend to build on the foundations of critical pedagogy and experiential learning. I feel that these platforms allow a more democratic space and decenter the classroom and overt and implicit functions of hierarchy that can arrest the learning/engagement process.
Most students might say I’m light-hearted and intense, playful and serious, a little neurotic, and very human in the classroom. I expect strong engagement from students in our learning communities. I understand that students are at different places in their academic journeys, but I feel motivation, enthusiasm, and curiosity are vital to their successful and active participation and growth, and these qualities often will compensate for other more measurable shortcomings or issues in process.
Q. What texts have been most influential in your teaching? What are you currently reading?
The authors who have been most influential to my teaching and research have been Theodore Brameld, Henry Giroux, H. Svi Shapiro, Charles W. Mills, Stanley Aronowitz, Howard Zinn, James Baldwin, Peter Berger, Maxine Greene, bell hooks, Zygmunt Bauman, Noam Chomsky, and Cornel West. There are many others, but these scholars have contributed so much to my critical approach and outlook on the power and purpose of education and the value and importance of democracy. I am currently reading and re-reading several articles by Henry Giroux and a collection of short stories and essays by Charles W. Chesnutt.
Q. What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with family. I love spending time in South Carolina’s low country. I am a casual fan of certain sports, but I am quite passionate when watching basketball. I enjoy all aspects of the science and poetry of the game of basketball, particularly the high school level. I enjoy trying new recipes and experiencing different restaurants. I can be a bit of a homebody. Sometimes there is nothing better than reading a good book and taking a long nap on a Saturday afternoon. I enjoy many different genres of music. I am really into soul and jazz from the 1960s and 1970s. I also tend to enjoy political dramas and documentary films on politics, social issues, and popular culture.
Q. What were you like as a college student?
It’s kind of a blur now. I must be getting old. I will say that seeing the Francis Marion students does often take me back to those bygone days as an undergraduate. I think this is one of the greatest rewards that comes from working with and sharing space with mostly traditional students primarily from South Carolina. I do recognize so much of my younger days and experiences as a native South Carolinian in the lives and passions of the students at FMU. I feel truly renewed and invigorated from their youth and energy.