“Communication underlies our ability to exist”

Q&A with Tania Rosas-Moreno, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication

By Brenna O'Connor, '15  |  Photo courtesy of Tania Rosas-Moreno

Tania Heather Cantrell Rosas-Moreno, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, has taught at Loyola since fall 2009. Her expertise is international communication, with particular regard to Brazil, and she is especially engaged with social justice issues such as feminism and education.

Brenna O’Connor, ’15, spoke with her about teaching communication at a Jesuit university, her research, and what she enjoys doing outside the classroom.

What do you like about teaching at Loyola?

I really enjoy engaging with the students who are very respectful and come from a different perspective.

One of the components of Loyola that is very attractive to me is the service-learning. The students are very open to doing service and enjoy doing service, and they embrace that personal journey—what it really means to apply a Jesuit education.

To me, that has made a world of difference.

Can you talk a little about your research?

My professional experience in public relations is closely tied to journalism, and my research explores international journalism and news issues, particularly story telling.

My main area of focus is Brazil, but I’ve also done studies on Germany, as I am fluent in Portuguese but conversational in German.

For example, my most recent publication (September 2014) is a book chapter focusing heavily on political communication and gender. It in, my research partner, who is Chilean, and I look at first female heads [of government] in three different nations on three different continents: Germany, Chile, and Liberia. The research focused on the differences among each nation’s political and cultural structures, their respective print news media, and how that influenced the re-election of each first female to a second term in office.

I’ve also done studies on Pakistan, looking at Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and how the Pakistani and U.S. presses told that story and what it meant for the people.

I really like looking at the framing of particular news issues across various boundaries.

Can you describe an “aha!” moment in your research?

I think for me there have been many. One was when I was doing my dissertation, and I was looking at how an Afro-Brazilian was elected to power in a fictional setting, in a telenovela.

As I was looking at that, I realized that there were a lot of religious influences in the story, which led me to question, “How was this portrayed in the news?”

I set a goal to write a book that would include not only the political communication elements of the news and the telenovela, but also the religious elements, among others. My book including that chapter on media and religion came from this “aha” moment. That has been the largest and most fruitful “aha” moment to date.

How are Loyola’s Jesuit values reflected in your teaching and/or scholarship?

I think that in Jesuit teaching—focusing on the whole person—I really try to help students understand that what we do in the classroom is tangible for your life skills. I really like incorporating that professional connection to the classroom.

What is something your students don’t know about you?

My students might not know where my interest in Brazilian studies comes from.

I served a mission with my church in Brazil and everything made sense to me. As the daughter of a U.S. Army officer and growing up in Germany, with my mom being from South Africa, I had major culture shock when I went to the United States after graduating from high school in Germany. I had spent most of my life in Germany.

When I went to Brazil, I saw American culture, European culture, African culture—all Brazilian-ized in this really cool way. So in many respects, I am Brazilian in my heart because of those experiences.

What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of teaching?

Because of my international studies, my husband and I have made it a point to travel as a family to international conferences. I have a lot of photobooks that I’ve put together that document our family travels. Whether it’s in Istanbul, Turkey, or on the beaches of South Africa or across the U.S., we try to make it a family trip.  Making the photobooks to document our family travels and photos of my son are always on the cover. I also really love working out; I used to run half-marathons! I am really engaged in my church and I serve as the relief society president, so I attend to the temporal and spiritual needs of about 400 women and their families in the Baltimore area.

I feel that my teaching, my research, and my personal life connect on a very unique level. (Sleep doesn’t seem to be my friend right now!)

Can you share a favorite book, movie, or quote?

One of my favorite books is Bambi by Felix Salten. There’s something about that book that I just love—I read it so many times when I was a child. I also really enjoyed reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and for a long time, if I had a daughter, I wanted to name her Tess.

One of my favorite movies is Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. It’s a painful story, but I feel it’s so authentic and it beautifully communicates the history of Africa at that time.

As for some of my favorite sayings, I really believe that communication is the essence of the universe.  Communication underlies our ability to exist.

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