UHD's Chuck Jackson, Scholar of the Terrifying and Frightening
By Bryce Calabaza
Dr. Chuck Jackson has been teaching U.S. film studies and literature including the American horror genre for almost 20 years in UHD’s Department of English. His area of study analyzes 20th century African-American novels and short stories, the Southern Gothic, mid-century U.S. horror films, and ‘70s and ‘80s experimental Black and Chicanx filmmaking — Jackson’s contributions to these fields of research have been featured in prestigious peer-reviewed journals.
Recently, UHD News interviewed Jackson about being a professor at UHD.
UHD News: What led you to become a professor?
Jackson: During my junior year in the English and Textual Studies major at Syracuse University, one of my professors asked me, “What are your plans for graduate school?” and she went on to tell me, “You could get a masters, you could get a doctorate, and become a professor and I think, you could really be good at it.” It was the first time I even heard of such a thing, and I thought, “What if I became a professor?” I was accepted into the doctorate program in English at Rice University, and I knew I had made the right choice.
UHD News: What is your teaching philosophy?
Jackson: For a most of us who teach at UHD, the practice of critical listening is fundamental to teaching well. Absorbing students’ questions and perspectives into our subjects of expertise and attuning our teaching based on what we hear from our students helps us make the classroom a more welcoming space.
UHD News: If you can say anything to your fellow professors, what would it be?
Jackson: I would say thank you. My fellow colleagues continue to inspire how I think about every day in the classroom or on Zoom. I feel grateful to be among a cohort of professors who spend most of their time puzzling through the very best ways to connect with students every single semester and I’m glad to be a part of that.
UHD News: Why is it essential for literature and film to be studied?
Jackson: It’s important for students to learn how to slow down and understand the structure of a story. In my classes, they learn the aesthetics that make a story interesting, appealing and in my case, frightening or disturbing. When students practice with a slow and careful analysis, it can lead to an interpretation that is more mindful of a larger context.
UHD News: What words of inspiration would you offer to students and staff?
Jackson: I always think about the word “inspire” because it’s connected to breathing and expiration. It is a part of our life, so as we breathe, it’s essential to remember that you are being inspired every moment of the day. As you breathe, remember your breath, your body, and your groundedness so that you can think clearly, critically, and calmly during these difficult times. Remember you can be good to yourself and come back to your breath when you need to … that’s inspiration.
Jackson will be hosting the 10th Annual Outdoor Halloween Film Screening at UHD. The outdoor event will feature Bernard Rose’s “Candyman” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 28 on the North Deck.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 60,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.