Associate Professor of Modern Languages
At Knox Since: 2000
Robin Ragan came to Knox in 2000 as an advanced graduate student and
completed her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
where she also received her bachelor's and master's degrees, within her
first year at Knox. She teaches Spanish literature and film and has directed Knox programs in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.
Because Knox let's me do all of the things I most want out of life. Knox encourages quality teaching and research. Knox constantly offers opportunities to attend workshops, symposiums, or conferences to continually educate ourselves. Moreover, Knox has generous research and parental leave policies, which demonstrates that they value all sides of a person. I love the sense of community fostered at Knox through potluck gatherings, faculty-staff intramural sports, and the traditional providing of meals for those who have had a baby or surgery.
What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
I would have to say they have been "off campus" with my students in Spain and Argentina. I'll never forget a snowball fight we had in the Andes after a rough ride up the side of a mountain in a huge jeep, a flat tire, and getting stuck in the mud, nor will I forget running after the fire devils in Spain during a festival, shrieking and laughing through the crowded streets.
Please describe your current research? What is most interesting about this research?
My current research is on Spanish film. I am especially fascinated by how Spain is reworking definitions of family and fidelity. I see young directors challenging our understanding of who constitutes family and what rules govern intimate relationships. Friends, neighbors, and community members are often substitute family members, either because they are better at meeting our individual needs or because biological family members are absent or even harmful.
If you weren't a professor, you would be a . . . ?
I would be a midwife. As an undergrad, I worked in hospitals and my step mom was a labor and delivery nurse. Some of my dissertation research was on midwives in Spain, and their struggle for official recognition in the face of a burgeoning obstetrics and gynecology profession. I currently volunteer interpret for women in Galesburg and Monmouth who need help with their prenatal visits and delivery.
What is your favorite thing about Galesburg?
The houses, Seminary Street, and the interconnectedness of the community.
What were the last three books you read?
I am re-reading Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (Hopscotch) now. I read it as an undergrad and have always wanted to get back to it. I just finished Susan Bordo's The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and Private. From cover to cover, I couldn't put it down. The book is written by an academic but not with all the elitist vocabulary typical of this type of book. She intersperses her personal experiences with men and her father with sociological data and media portrayals of men. Finally, much of what I read is directly related to the courses I'm teaching. For my course on Spanish youth, I read Guapos y Pobres, which consists of interviews with young people in Spain today, with particular focus on their level of happiness, autonomy, and economic status.
What did you do to celebrate receiving tenure?
I celebrated with wine and friends . . . how else?