"I describe my area of research as techno-cultural studies."
Hageman feels that Luther, as a liberal arts college, cultivates students’ abilities to make connections across their classes no matter how disparate the fields of study might seem on the surface. “My own approach to studying literature and film is grounded in interpreting the impacts of cultural works in conversation with their techno-scientific, political, historical, and other contexts,” he says. “Luther is a place where I can readily draw students excited about entomology, astrophysics, ecology, or law into classroom discussions of how a novel can shape attitudes about a particular subject or how a film can reveal widespread conceptions—including wild misconceptions—about a subject.”
He also appreciates how liberal arts college students pursue a multi-year program of learning designed specifically to foster complex development. “Instead of starting with a target job that informs the class and co-curricular choices they make, students who come to a liberal arts college like Luther seem to start with the idea that their education is about discovering ideas and opportunities they had not known about or even imagined, identifying their values and maybe their calling, and then finding the next direction to take in life.”
Hageman describes his area of research as techno-cultural studies. “I examine literature, film, and other cultural works that feature technology to analyze how these stories and images shape the social imagination of techno-scientific developments,” he says, “For instance, I can help students dig into popular science fiction today to understand how it influences and is influenced by widespread attitudes about things like global warming, cloning, genetic modification of plants and animals, space exploration, and nanotechnology to name a few.”
As the title suggests, the course will focus on Chinese notions of change in three eras with distinct dominant trends—the Way of Daoism, the radical cultural transformations in China when it became the People’s Republic in 1949, and the social, environmental, and other challenges China faces today as a planned market economy in transition. “I’ll teach this course with my colleague, Hongmei Yu, and it will be based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province,” he says, “We’ll study the ancient history and rapid modernization of this massive city as well as nearby sacred mountains and the Giant Panda Research Base. Plus, and this should not be underestimated, we’re going to be eating amazing food!”
Along with being an English professor, Hageman has been a longtime active member of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) and the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA). More recently, he’s presented research at the International Žižek Studies Conference and the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA).
I worked for an ESL consulting firm that trained local managers of large joint-venture firms as well as all kinds of folks in Shanghai looking to boost their English and thereby their job prospects. I’ve always been grateful that the job allowed me to meet so many people from varied backgrounds.