By Brittany Leuth (’18)
Dr. Kathryn Hobson is a new faculty member to join the School of Communication Studies and teaches within the cultural communication concentration. Prior to her career at JMU, Hobson studied at Luther College and majored in American studies with a minor in women’s studies. As an undergrad, Hobson knew that she also wanted to minor in communication studies, however was terrified to take the required public speaking course. She put off taking the class until her senior year, and even after taking the course promised herself that she would never present in front of others again! For her master’s and Ph. D, Hobson attended the University of Denver to study culture and communication with a heavy emphasis on intersectionality of identities. Immediately post-graduation, she began teaching intercultural communication at Bloomsburg University. Hobson taught there for two years before coming to JMU. Today, Hobson public speaks on a daily basis and is proud to say she is proof that the more you speak in front of others, the better and more comfortable you become!
In addition to teaching at JMU, Hobson loves to conduct research and is currently working on a collaborative ethnography with her colleague Dr. Michael Broderick, where they use writing as a method of inquiry to understand family, pain, loss, trauma, and working class identity. Recently, Hobson had a proposal she wrote with a colleague accepted for a book chapter on disabilities, media and queer identity. She is also working on a piece about cognitive and emotional disabilities represented on television with a former student at Bloomsburg University. In previous years, Hobson has published pieces on queer femininity, queer friendship, racial identity and critical whiteness studies. Her work focuses on intersectionality and the performance of identities, specifically in the LGBT*QIQAP+ community and how femininity is impacted by sexuality, race and class.
Hobson believes that JMU is a great fit for her because of how the cultural communication track lines up perfectly with her PhD and communication interests. Hobson states that she feels very much at home within this area. She currently enjoys teaching both the classes, Intercultural Communication (SCOM 248) and Ethnographic Approaches to Communication (SCOM 349). Hobson states that she loves both of these classes because they are her “jam” and where her passions come out. Hobson would eventually like to teach a class on “communication, sexuality, and intersectionality” because it lines up with her interests and she believes that her students would be interested in taking such a class.
Hobson’s talents go beyond her public speaking skills and great knowledge of intercultural communication. As side hobbies, Hobson enjoys hiking, swimming, spending time with her two dogs (Indigo and Morty), and refinishing old furniture. One secret passion that Hobson shared with us is her love for performance and dance. Not only does she love watching performances, but she loves to perform herself! In fact, Hobson was in Shout Out’s annual V-Day event. Hobson states, “I believe that art can create social justice and change. Really, I just want to leave the world a little better than I found it and however I can make that happen is my passion.”
Although Hobson has only been here for a short amount of time, she has many reasons why she already loves JMU so much. “The students—hands down! Especially the cultural communication students, but really all the students, make this one of the best places to work,” states Hobson, “They are all incredibly kind and prepared. They want to be challenged, so I try hard to bring that challenge. And of course, my colleagues. They are just so passionate and caring, and I have so much to learn from them. Just like the students, they too have been incredibly welcoming. It also helps that this university is in a gorgeous setting, with people who, I think, want to make a difference in the world for the better.”
Hobson offers her students the following pieces of advice, “Be open-minded to hearing stories that are different from yours, this will prove invaluable to you as you go through life. Everyone has a story. Listen a lot, but also be willing to speak out or act in ways that serve the greater good. Also, public speaking doesn’t have to be that bad. Practice a lot, stretch and meditate to rid of excess energy before speaking. It helps so much. Then just a general piece of practical advice is to wear sunscreen. It’s science, y’all.”
Be sure to enroll in Professor Hobson’s Intercultural Communication (SCOM 248) and Ethnographic Approaches to Communication (SCOM 349) classes in order to learn more about why these topics are her “jam” this fall!
Please give a warm welcome to Dr. Kathryn Hobson!