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The professor’s room – Samuel Jay

An occasional series that gets within the inner sanctums of academia – because clever people have interesting rooms.

By Cory Phare

May 24, 2017

Sam Jay in his office.

What’s the recipe for academic success for an assistant professor of rhetoric, ethics and social justice?

For speech communication faculty member Samuel Jay, Ph.D., it’s more than a rhetorical question: Start with critical discourse; add political, economic and linguistic analysis; and sprinkle in a dash of college athletics.

The result? A gonzo approach to learning that’s media-savvy and really ties the lesson plan together. Jay gives us the low down on his office.

1. I saw the initial screening of the biopic “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” at the Dallas Film Festival when it was released. My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in film studies, and I’d fallen in love with his work. I wish there was someone today who could speak to contemporary society the same way he did.

2. My daughter Odette picked out this Noam Chomsky finger puppet for me from a book store in the Highlands. I’m a big fan of Chomsky’s work on the role of mass media in affirming the status quo; I get a lot of pushback for supporting him, but I’m also a fan of Sam Harris, who occupies a different part of the philosophical spectrum.

3. My office is where I cohost and produce my podcast, “Sports Nerds,” where we talk about the theoretical impact and implications of sports. In our last episode, we discussed the socioeconomic elements of LaVar Ball’s shoe marketing tactics using guilt and fear of missing out. This is a Samson C01U USB mic.

4. If you watch closely, you’ll notice this picture of Richard Nixon bowling from the classic Coen brothers’ film “The Big Lebowski.” I brought it in for a show-and-tell for a Spanish class in my undergrad where we had to talk about a specific object. After that, my future wife reached out to me, and we started dating – I like to say this poster is the reason we got married.

5. I have an entire wall devoted to the University of Iowa. I grew up about 30 minutes from Iowa City and did my undergraduate work there; I always knew I wanted to be a Hawkeye from a young age. In addition to the football, I’ve got a signed helmet, bobble-head, and three framed Sports Illustrated issues from their historic 2015/16 football and basketball seasons.

6. This plant was a gift from Dr. Larry Collette, a good friend and Speech Communication faculty member who just retired. I’ll miss him dearly, but we’ll no doubt continue to grab beers and Mexican food. My job is to keep the plant alive.

7. I inherited this chair from our daughters’ nursery – Iris is the oldest at 4, and Odette is 2. My wife said, “We should sell that chair,” but it still has stains from where the little ones spit up. It’s pretty comfortable; sometimes I’ll take a nap in it.

p.s. Calling all faculty and staff members…
Do you have an interesting office – and would you like to feature it in our series? Just email Cory Phare.

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