Four faculty receive promotions at Knox College.
Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Four members of the Knox faculty received promotions this June—Brandon Polite '03 and Gabe Raley received tenure and were promoted to associate professor; Julio Noriega received tenure and was promoted to full professor; and Monica Berlin '95 was promoted to full professor. Knox Magazine asked each of them a few questions about their time at Knox, their current research, and their personal aspirations (we even asked them to pose with a meaningful object). Here's what they had to say:

Associate Professor of Philosophy Brandon Polite ’03

Brandon Polite '03
Brandon is pictured with his electric guitar. Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Brandon earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his B.A. from Knox. His scholarship on the philosophy of music has been published in a variety of journals, including Pragmatism Today, and has been presented at conferences in five countries, including the UK and Lithuania. Last year, he was a featured philosopher on the blog of the American Philosophical Association. Brandon is an active member of the Knox community and has served as a member of the First-Year Preceptorial Steering Committee, faculty editor of The McNair Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, and faculty advisor of Knox College Philosophy Club.

Why Knox?

When I was in graduate school, I always knew that I wanted to teach at a place like Knox. The more intimate setting of a small liberal arts college-found in our smaller class sizes and ample opportunities to work with students one-on-one-is more conducive to doing philosophy in the way I think it ought to be done. It turns out that there is no school more like Knox than Knox, so I leapt at the opportunity to return to teach at my alma mater (first as a visiting instructor) when it was extended to me exactly a decade ago this summer.

If money and time were no object, what problem would you tackle?

Time travel. George Lucas seriously needs to have been stopped from making the prequels!

Professor of English Monica Berlin ’95

Monica Berlin '95
Monica is pictured with the ampersand sign, which was once “the 27th letter of the English alphabet.” Photo by Brea Cunningham

Monica, who currently serves as chair of the English department, received her B.A. from Knox, M.A. from Western Illinois University, and M.F.A. from Vermont College. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published in numerous journals and magazines, including The Kenyon Review, Water Stone Review, and Cimarron Review, among others, and has received various awards, including the Heartland Poetry Prize and New Measure Poetry Prize. Her collection Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live, winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press. She is a recipient of the Knox Young Alumni Achievement Award and the Philip Green WrightLombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?

Each spring, the faculty and senior creative writing majors take a walk, usually in considerable wind, to Carl Sandburg's birthplace. When we cross in a long line, usually two-by-two, the Fourth Avenue bridge—where we can look over to see campus and the Sandburg house and other parts of town in every direction and then look down below us at the river of trains—that's the moment. I try to slow so I can turn around to take in the whole scene, all our writers around me, then I like to let them pass me, to let them walk far enough ahead that I can watch them as they come off the bridge and down into the neighborhood, as they make their way.

If you weren't a professor, you would be a ____?

Like many writers I suspect, I fantasize about opening a bookstore some day.

Professor of Spanish Julio Noriega

Junio Noriega
Julio is pictured with a hand-woven alpaca wool blanket, called qonpi, qata or lliklla, that belongs to the Indigenous community of Chinchero, Cusco. Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Julio earned his Ph.D., M.A., and a Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies from University of Pittsburgh. He also earned Licenciatura in Hispanic Literature and a B.A. from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. His research on Indigenous cultures has been widely published, including, most recently, the book Poesía Quechua en Bolivia (Quechua poetry in Bolivia). Currently, he is working on a new book-length project, which explores Indigenous messengers in transatlantic short stories from 1526-1942. Julio is chair of the Latin American Studies department and has served as director of the Knox in Barcelona program.

Describe your current research/ creative work.

My research is intriguing, yet at times arduous, for it involves extensive fieldwork within isolated migrant communities of Indigenous heritage people: studying, documenting, and compiling poetry written in the Quechua language by marginalized writers in Peru and Bolivia.

Broadening beyond the examination of the Quechua language and literature, my academic curiosity includes Andean bilingual and migrant literature, Latin American literature, and Andean cinema, and has resulted in the dissemination of my studies as anthologies, essays, short stories, and critical reviews throughout the international community of scholars.

If you weren't a professor, you would be a ____?

An Indigenous musician.

Associate Professor of Sociology Gabrielle Raley

Gabrielle Raley
Gabe is pictured with a hammer, which symbolizes the everyday work of making, rebuilding, and deconstructing our social world. Photo by Peter Bailley '74

Gabrielle earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of California-Los Angeles and her B.A. from Evergreen State College. Her scholarship has been published in Contemporary Sociology and American Families: A Multicultural Reader, and she has presented her work at the American Sociological Association and the Annual Conference on Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts. Gabe has been very active in campus service and leadership, including development and implementation of the InterGroup Dialogue curriculum and training and serving as chair of Campus Diversity Committee, faculty mentor for McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program students, and faculty advisor for student clubs and organizations.

What is your most memorable moment at Knox?

My most memorable moments happen frequently: each time that a student comes into my office convinced they can't do something, and then finds a way to do it.

If money and time were no object, what problem would you tackle?

By tackle, I assume you mean not just study but remediate. In this case, I believe systemic racism is one of our most disgusting and pernicious social creations. As a white person, I benefit from it every day of my life, always in unearned and undeserved ways. I don't feel guilty as a white person, I feel motivated.