Spanish professor Novia Pagone graduated from Knox and is now, after 13 years, returning to a teaching post as she finishes up her doctorate thesis with the University of Chicago. Pagone’s research focuses on women journalists in Spain. She is now planning to stay on after graduating from the University of Chicago in the spring.
The Knox Student: Where do you come from?
Novia Pagone: I grew up … an hour northwest of Chicago. I actually grew up on a horse ranch. I graduated from Knox in 1997, so it’s a sort of homecoming for me. This is my first job. I’m actually just finishing my thesis. I’ll finally graduate at the end of the year from the University of Chicago. I did my B.A. here and I did my M.A. at University of Texas in Austin … and then I went back to Chicago.
TKS: What was your thesis?
NP: I’m actually writing about women journalists in Spain during the transition to democracy, which is like mid-70s to early 80s. I’m writing about their contribution to the Spanish cultural identity through journalism … I’m also very interested in the non-fiction genres, like essays, chronicles, etc.
TKS: How did you get the idea for your thesis?
NP: I got the idea from [a] reading for an exam, but [I also] used to work in politics. Between ‘97 and now I worked…for Lisa Madigan who is the current attorney general of Illinois, and she was the first woman attorney general that we’ve had. So I was interested in the way women emerged in the public sector as political subjects, and that was a very relevant theme during the Spanish transition.
TKS: What have you found with your research?
NP: Unfortunately, it wasn’t as much of a “boom” as I thought it would be. There weren’t as many women. I read more recent studies in the last few years that say it looks like there are more women working in journalism in the public sector but really it’s not that many.
TKS: Has that realization changed your thesis?
NP: It’s toned it down a little and helped me focus more on the contributions they did make. There was a really big women’s movement during the Spanish transition, and so … even though it’s not as much as I thought it would be, it’s been interesting to see how the … journalism has contributed to the whole project.
TKS: What made you decide to come back and teach at Knox?
NP: I was looking for a job and finishing my degree and I actually wasn’t going to look for a job until next year, [when] this [teaching opportunity] came up, and I had a friend who was teaching here and I thought that would be really fun and so I applied. It’s been great. When I first came back it was really strange. It was a constant flashback of my own time here, but that’s settled. I feel very comfortable here. The people here are awesome, and the students are great. It’s still the same quirky Knox that I remember.