IN THIS ISSUEGraduates Prepare for Life After College
Meet a Student
Associate Professor of English Jo Koster and her nephew, Doug Pabst, took part in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., in 2007.
NASCAR and medieval literature might seem worlds apart, but Jo Koster, associate professor of English, finds time to devote to both her interests. On occasion, she even finds ways to combine them.
Take, for example, Koster’s scholarly research. The medieval literature professor, who writes a regular guest column for Jeff Gordon Online, a fan site for NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, has written and presented a scholarly paper on the late Dale Earnhardt, Geoffrey Chaucer and the creation of mythology. “I examine how people become myths, and that applies to modern-day celebrities and medieval figures,” Koster said.
The longtime racing fan has learned how to find common interests among diverse groups and put those interests to use out- and inside the classroom. Koster’s online NASCAR column has connected her with fans spanning the United States and three countries. She also meets readers and fellow fans at the three or four NASCAR races she attends every season. The sense of community, Koster said, is why she enjoys being a fan.
“I think that the stereotype is that NASCAR is a redneck thing, but sponsors don’t pour $40-$50 million into something that is ‘backwoods,’” said Koster.
Koster uses this same strategy in her classroom. She has created two popular summer courses – ENGL 200: Myth, Archetype and Genre in the Harry Potter Novels and ENGL 510: Medieval Literature and Film – and has started developing a course on graphic novels to appeal to students interested in modern literature and popular fiction. Koster also teaches WRIT 501: Writing for Electronic Media, which lets students explore social networking, podcasting, blogging and writing for Internet-based publications.
In addition, Koster has worked with several Winthrop faculty members to develop a minor in medieval studies. Available in fall 2010, the new interdisciplinary minor will feature 12 courses ranging from medieval literature to history to art and more.
“The classes and the new minor give us a chance to take those nontraditional interests – the “Monty Python” films, fiction like “Harry Potter” or graphic novels – and develop them in different ways,” Koster said.
8/13-8/16 - Winthrop Organ Festival, Byrnes Auditorium
8/21-8/30 - Welcome Week
8/24 - Treasures & Traditions, Byrnes Auditorium, 9 a.m.
8/24 - Convocation and picnic, Byrnes Auditorium, 4 p.m.
8/25 - Classes begin
8/28 - Garnet & Gold Friday, Wear Winthrop colors
9/2 - Wednesday at the Wall, Leitner Wall, 2:50-3:50 p.m.
9/24 - Charlotte Alumni Event, Mint Museum of Art, 6 p.m.
9/24 - Alumni Executive Board Workshop, Tuttle Dining Room
9/25 - Garnet & Gold Friday, Wear Winthrop colors