Spring 2006

Nicholas Rombes: Critical thinker, teacher and writer

Nicholas Rombes

"I love this university – its students are hardworking, intellectually curious, and idealistic," says Associate Professor of English Nicholas Rombes. Currently, Rombes teaches early American literature and film studies, as well as creative writing and freshman composition. In addition, he co-founded both the Electronic Critique program, a major in the College of Liberal Arts and Education, and the national journal Post Identity, which he also co-edits.

A native of Waterville, Ohio, Rombes received a B.A. from Bowling Green before moving to Pennsylvania State University for his master's and doctoral degrees. In 1995, Rombes came to UDM. Of his tenure at UDM, Rombes says, "I feel enormously blessed to be teaching at a university that values its students so highly, and that creates and fosters an environment that encourages critical thinking."

A prolific contributor to journals and books, Rombes currently focuses on both early American authors and the emergence of digital cinema. Here, he explores the effects of new technologies of filmmaking, such as small, hand-held digital camera and desktop editing, on the film themselves. Rombes says, "I think what lies at the heart of my interest in digital cinema and culture is this: how do we retain our humanness, our humanity, in the face of the relentless speed and change of digital culture?"

While the two areas appear far removed, Rombes sees a strong connection between early American literature and digital storytelling. "During the early years of the American republic, novels were considered a new, potentially dangerous form of expression," Rombes says. "So those novelists were considered real risk-takers." Today, he says, storytelling has taken a different form. According to Rombes, "These digital pioneers are story tellers who are experimenting with new ways of telling stories, handling time and creating characters."

By learning about how digital media works – and by critically examining examples of this new digital media, Rombes contends that students are better able to project objectivity and, ultimately, skepticism to the world of information swirling around them.

"My hope," he says, "is that my teaching and my research can help students think more actively and critically about the world around them."

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