Dr. Kristin Bezio
Professor looks at leadership through literature and the arts
February 6, 2012
What does the video game “Call of Duty” have to do with leadership? Or the movie “V for Vendetta?" Or Shakespeare?
Just ask Dr. Kristin Bezio, who uses literature, theater, film and even video games to challenge the way students think about leadership and ethics.
Looking at pop culture “lets students think about the presentation of leadership and followership that is coming across,” she says.
“We tend to forget about pop culture as something that changes the way we think. We don’t think about it actively working on us, which makes it powerful. But it changes what we come to expect of leaders and how we think about leadership.”
Bezio joined the Jepson School in the fall as an assistant professor. Part of what drew her to the School, she says, is its interdisciplinary nature and the opportunity to teach a wide selection of courses.
She taught writing and English courses at Boston University before coming to the University of Richmond. “I realized I was really doing work in leadership, which makes the Jepson School a good fit,” she says. Her areas of specialization include leadership in literature and film, leadership in performance, and cultural and political history in Early Modern England.
During the fall semester, Bezio taught two courses: Leadership on Stage and Screen and the introductory course Leadership and the Humanities. She is teaching Critical Thinking this spring.
She had students in Leadership on Stage and Screen look at presidential leadership and social movements using movies such as “Thirteen Days,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The King’s Speech” and “Malcolm X.” “We ended with ‘The Island,’ a retake of ‘The Tempest’ where science replaces magic as this potentially dangerous thing that can control us,” she says.
They also watched presidential debates and discussed how image influences perceptions of candidates.Bezio is still “adapting to a different kind of student” at the Jepson School but is enjoying the challenge.
“Jepson students are trained to think in a very different way,” she says. “They all bring so many different interests. They’re all leadership studies majors or minors, but that means something very different to each of them. Because of their diverse interests, they’re able to challenge me to look at things in a way I wouldn’t necessarily think to look at them.”