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accents on english | fall 20-spring 21

Katherine Morrissey, Assistant Professor (Film and Media Studies)

As a pre-tenure faculty member, Katherine (“Katie”) Morrissey finds that the line between work and hobbies often gets blurred. With a professional focus on film and media studies, her hobbies include popular media from around the world; listening to K-pop, Bollywood soundtracks and other loud and upbeat music as she works; crafting elaborate scrapbooks (and destroying her apartment in the process); watching Netflix Rom-Coms; and reading LGBTQ+ romance novels. Some of her favorite graphic novels include: "Bitch Planet" by Kelly Sue Deconnick, "Saga" by Brian K. Vaughn, "Promethea" by Alan Moore, Matt Fraction's run of "Hawkeye," and Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home."

As a self-proclaimed homebody, she noticed that the pandemic has largely impacted her former daily walking and biking; moving from San Francisco to Arizona in the heat of summer during a pandemic was no joke! She officially joined ASU’s faculty last fall, but the move to online classes last spring allowed Morrissey to return to Connecticut to care for her mother, who had late stage cancer. The current pandemic reminds her how delicately balanced our lives and routines are, as well as how easy it can be for our safety nets (home, income, health, etc.) to become destabilized.

Morrissey’s family of “artists and geeks” heavily influences her love of media, genre, and popular culture. “As a kid, it wasn't uncommon for me to watch a Gene Kelly musical with my grandmother on Friday, go watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine with my dad on Saturday, and then head to the local art-cinema with my mom to see something else the next weekend.” So while she originally pursued a master’s to advance her career in non-profit marketing and communication with a focus on graphic and web design, the different ways the women in her family engaged with media and popular culture and reacted to different stories fueled her research interests, and she ultimately pursued academia.

While much of Morrissey’s travel has centered on work conferences, she taught English in Japan for a year, where she learned to make kimchi nabe (it's a kimchi soup). She also loves Japanese curry, Ethiopian food, and making her own pizza. Last year, she had an opportunity to take a very special trip with her mother and aunt to Paris, fulfilling her mother’s dream to see Notre Dame Cathedral (they were fortunate to see it before it was damaged by fire). When travel opens up again, she plans to travel to a library archive to view the old 1970’s fanzines in their vault.

Morrissey looks forward to both the return of in-person events to build relationships with her colleagues and returning to the classroom where she and her students can interact in real time, face-to-face.

Morrissey’s motto on wellness is to sneak it into her daily routines. She’s a big fan of the “Meditation Studio” mindfulness app—it has a range of short and long meditation/mindfulness sessions in different meditative styles. It even has a series specifically for college students. The pandemic has curtailed her daily outings, in which she formerly commuted to work and ran errands by walking or biking. But with the arrival of cooler weather last winter, she and her partner enjoyed venturing out on the bike trails on weekends.

Currently Morrissey is a book review editor for Transformative Works and Cultures. She would love for any graduate students working in the areas of fan studies, audience research, and participatory culture, who are interested in writing a review to contact her! She also serves as a vice-president for the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, an interdisciplinary academic organization that works to foster scholarly work focused on popular representations of romantic love, which has a bi-annual international conference and publishes the Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JRPS). She welcomes any graduate students working in this area who are interested in getting involved with this association to reach out to her.

Morrissey looks forward to both the return of in-person events to build relationships with her colleagues and returning to the classroom where she and her students can interact in real time, face-to-face. When social distancing restrictions lessen in the future, you’ll likely find her in local coffee shops, obsessing over the look and design of her course materials.

Heidi Willers

Image: Courtesy photo of Katherine Morrissey