Dr. Jay McRoy
UW-Parkside English Department Chair
What influenced you to become an English professor?
The opportunity to be part of a larger community of intellectually and creatively engaged people was my primary motivation. Art has always been an important part of my life, and - in fact - I began my college experience as an Art major specializing in painting and illustration before realizing that English Literature and Writing courses offered me the possibility to study the ways that authors "paint" entire worlds through language. Curiously, it was through my experiences as an English major that I was introduced to Cinema Studies.
Why did you choose Parkside as the place where you would teach?
Of all the schools at which I interviewed, the University of Wisconsin - Parkside was by far the best fit for me, as it provided me with the opportunity to create a Film Studies Certificate Program, as well as the chance to teach a wide variety of courses on a multitude of topics. Additionally, my colleagues are some of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met; their dedication to their students is truly remarkable. As someone who sees himself as a student as much as an "instructor"/ "guide," this really appeals to me. But what really sealed the deal for me were the students. The University of Wisconsin - Parkside's student body consists of some of the brightest, most creative people I have ever met. I am so proud to be a part of this vibrant community.
What does Parkside offer that other universities do not?
Parkside's diverse student body allows for exciting intellectual and creative dialogues. Consequently, class discussions are really fun. You can never anticipate how people will react to a given text, which makes the entire educational experience an unpredictable and, thus, highly pleasurable experience.
What is your favorite aspect of the English Major?
Students can pursue their specific interests while attaining the necessary background in literature that will inevitably familiarize them with many of the most important literary works in English. I also find it exciting that students can choose between a literature-based or a writing-based concentration. The Film Studies Certificate also adds to the options available for students with diverse interests.
What new directions do you see the English Department taking over the next five years?
I look forward to seeing how an influx of new faculty members and students transform the current learning environment. The new ideas and perspectives that these people will bring can only enrich the English Department. I also look forward to transforming the Film Studies Certificate Program into a multi-disciplinary major with an increasingly larger focus on film and video production.
What are your responsibilities as Chair of the English Department?
As Chair, my responsibilities include making sure that the English Department can offer the courses students need to complete the major, enriching communication among faculty and students, and providing new avenues for interactions between the English Department and the larger local, national, and global community.
What would you be doing today if you weren't teaching?
I would probably be a student. I can't even begin to imagine living a life without some degree of intellectual or creative activity or dialogue.
How much coffee?
What cosmic forces converged to cultivate your coolness?
This is a difficult question to answer, as my muse is a temperamental poly-gendered entity I dread alienating.
What is the difference between comic books and graphic novels?
Graphic novels are comic books. What distinguishes graphic novels from what most people think of as "comic books" is that graphic novels are written as works intended to stand-alone (e.g. Art Spiegelman's Maus or Charles Burns' Black Hole), or as a collected series of individually published comics that, once the primary story arc is complete, can be understood both independently (i.e. as a "coherent narrative") and as part of a larger mythology. Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns would fall into this latter category.