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Intersection - Back to School With Media Law, Superheroes and Poetry

KBIA file photo
KBIA file photo

This week on Intersection, we talk with three MU professors about their teaching and research in and outside of the classroom. From the First Amendment and social media to what superheroes can teach us about American history, we're learning from some of our region's fascinating  educators.  

Listen to the full show here: 

Assistant Professor Brett Johnson teaches courses on mass communication law. Johnson’s research focuses on the First Amendment, the wide protections the press enjoys in the United States and how the public interacts with those rights - including on social media.

“What we're looking at is how various media organizations have conceived of Facebook as this new powerful player. Does it have a duty to protect people from harmful speech because it is so easy there's such a low cost to say such horrible things online? Or does it have a duty to promote a robust marketplace of ideas, to be to kind of be more laissez faire?"

Here, Johnson talks about the First Amendment. 


Juanamaría Cordones-Cook is a professor of Romance Language and Literature. She brings her knowledge of Afro-Latino artists  from the books and documentaries she's produced into the classroom. 

"I have brought quite a few of  Afro-Cuban artists here and these students have absorbed this with tremendous interest, because I think that here in the United States we always talk about the Harlem Renaissance and in my understanding what happened in Cuba after the revolution was very similar and I call it the Havana's Black Renaissance. So students are introducing into this world and I feel that they are very interested and fascinated they love meeting these artists and writers and it's a way of enriching their experience and they absorb it very happily I think.”

Through her travels and research Cordones-Cook has been able to develop close relationships with the writers and artists she works with. 


Assistant visiting professor Jonathan Root specializes in 20th-century American religious and cultural history. This semester, he’s teaching a class called “The Superhero in American Culture.” 

“In many ways it’s a survey of American 20th-century history, but I’m doing that through the lens of superheroes. So if you look at the time period, how do superheroes reflect that time period? And how do they help shape that time period? How do they shape generations?”

Here Root talks about the birth of Captain America.


Intersection's producers are Claire Banderas, Kelly Palecek and Abby Ivory-Ganja.

Sara Shahriari was the assistant news director at KBIA-FM, and she holds a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. Sara hosted and was executive producer of the PRNDI award-winning weekly public affairs talk show Intersection. She also worked with many of KBIA’s talented student reporters and teaches an advanced radio reporting lab. She previously worked as a freelance journalist in Bolivia for six years, where she contributed print, radio and multimedia stories to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg News, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Deutsche Welle and Indian Country Today. Sara’s work has focused on mental health, civic issues, women’s and children’s rights, policies affecting indigenous peoples and their lands and the environment. While earning her MA at the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara produced the weekly Spanish-language radio show Radio Adelante. Her work with the KBIA team has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and PRNDI, among others, and she is a two-time recipient of funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
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