Meet Your Professors: Elaine Roth

November 10, 2006

Adam Gallippo
Student Life Editor

To her students, Elaine Roth is nothing short of spectacular.

Over the last six years, with an undeniable passion for film, Roth has been inciting students to look at film with a different set of eyes, awaking the auteur in all.

Roth began her teaching career at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville where she attained her Masters degree.

At the University of Virginia, Roth, who thought she would get a PhD in literature, started out teaching English composition classes. Roth also made two student films during her Virginia days.

One of the films, a romantic drama, followed a couples breakup and dispute over a tennis racket. At the end, the audience was surprised to discover the woman’s true motives behind wanting the tennis racket. She wanted the racket for her tennis-playing girlfriend.

This is when Roth’s love of film intensified.

“I was always interested in art forms that lots of people enjoy as opposed to really elite art forms that not many people have access to,” said Roth. “And so film is obviously the dominant art form of our time.”

From Virginia, Roth attended the University of Oregon where she earned her PhD. While at the University of Oregon, Roth won the Best Graduate Student Teacher award while teaching The History of Film and Women in Film.

Roth then moved to upstate New York, close to the Canadian border, to teach screenwriting at St. Lawrence University.

Now, Roth is tenure track here at IUSB and it seems a match made in movie heaven.

“I’m very happy teaching at IUSB,” said Roth. “South Bend is a really great city.”

An Associate Professor of English who teaches film studies, Roth has won two teaching awards during her short time at IUSB.

In 2004, Roth won IUSB Teacher of the Year with five other teachers from varying departments. In 2005, Roth was nominated by a fellow professor for admittance into the Faculty Colloquium of Excellent Teaching. FCET consists solely of award-winning professors and is somewhat exclusive. Roth was accepted into FCET later that same year.

For Roth, the awards are secondary. It’s teaching film she enjoys most and, according to Roth, teaching film is a give and take process.

“It’s great to encourage people to think about film differently, but then my way of thinking about film is always shaped by the way students are thinking about film,” said Roth. “So it’s this mutual exchange that’s really nice.”

Currently, Roth is working on a screenplay adaptation of Siri Hustvedt’s novel The Enchantment of Lily Dahl.

The story follows a young girl who gets involved with an artist whose slightly creepy comic strip style art hints at the threat of violence.

“The novel, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, is a very visually driven story so it’s perfect for a screenplay,” said Roth.

Roth, who has finished the first of three acts, remains optimistic in regards to her screenplay.

Why shouldn’t she be? Artistic talent runs in her family.

Her sister, Patty Jenkins, wrote and directed the Academy Award winning film “Monster.”

When Roth isn’t teaching or working on her own film projects she runs.

In 1999 she completed the Chicago Marathon. In 2001, she ran the Philadelphia Marathon and in 2002 she finished the Boston Marathon.


4 Responses to “Meet Your Professors: Elaine Roth”

  1. Terry Alvey Says:

    I googled you and Patty after our phone call….you BOTH have done incredible feats since I saw you last. I did not realize that Patty had directed THAT “Monster”! Your Mom totally played it down. The film was incredible and I just watched the documentary on the DVD.
    Being a film nut myself, I would LOVE to have a cup of coffee and tawk! Please call me next time you are in SF. Happy New Year!
    xo Terry

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  3. Jessica Says:

    Elaine is the reason my husband and I work in film in Chicago now. Over five years ago we were her 1st students when she came to IUSB!

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