WCP's Dr. Julia Tigner wins Teaching Award

J. Tigner Headshot

Posted March 31, 2021

The 2021 Serve-Learn-Sustain Faculty Sustainable Communities Teaching Award recognizes the efforts by Georgia Tech faculty to transform their pedagogy to meet the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Writing and Communication Program's own Dr. Julia Tigner is the winner of the Sustainable Communities Teaching People's Choice Award, recognized for her work by her colleagues and the campus community.

In Dr. Tigner’s Fall 2020 English 1101 course, “Discovering Space In Between,” students studied the concept of liminality (particularly, what it means to be in states of in betweenness) in real-time as first-year students transitioning to collegiate life in the middle of a global pandemic fraught by issues of social justice. With learning outcomes of critically thinking about accessibility and identity ranging from not only navigating life at college but also moving through the world as a person of color, the course content was current, personal, and immediate. Within the course’s ongoing discussion, students revisited these key questions throughout the semester:

  • How do we read (and understand) the spaces people occupy?
  • How does one’s race, gender, sexuality, and other factors of difference inform how one moves through space publicly and socially?
  • How might specific identities complicate space?

Moreover, students explored liminality and space locally by exploring connections to local histories, environment, and culture in their multimodal projects. For example, Dr. Tigner  added a picture book assignment to her course. Using Caroline Randall Williams’ NYT op-ed “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument” as a frame, students entered current conversations regarding the national debate around monuments and public spaces. By identifying herself as a “living monument,” Williams offers students another perspective that is absent from the debate. Assigning such texts ultimately informed how students produced picture books aimed at a K-2 audience that explains the cultural significance and intentionality behind installing Georgia Tech’s beloved statues—figures that are largely symbolic of the past—on a college campus.

In all, their multimodal projects (including New Yorker style profiles, picture books, and podcasts) prompted students to not only delineate and imagine varied liminal spaces in revolutionary ways, but also propelled them to come to understand the frame’s usefulness in thinking about diversity and our shared responsibility to build a more inclusive world. 

To read about the other courses nominated for the award, visit SLS's blog here.

 

Julia Tigner is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research examines how Black women writers across the African Diaspora use liminality as a trope to explore how Black women negotiate space and live at the intersection of race and gender. This interest in liminality, space, identity, and movement is foundational to both her research and teaching. She presented her most recent work “Black Women Imbued with the Political in Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, by Anna Deavere Smith” at the 2020 MLA Conference in Seattle, Washington. She also has an essay entitled “Negotiating that Space of Uncertainty in Academe as a Black Woman” that appears in Outside In: Voices from the Margins. Dr. Tigner’s most recent courses entitled “Discovering Spaces In Between” and “Narratives of Black Girlhood” focus on race, power, and gender in nuanced ways.

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