A man of multiple names, John “Greg” Wise ’88 has published seven books under the name J. Macgregor Wise—perhaps to evade those who may be surveilling him? This communication and English double major keeps a watchful eye on the surveillance industry and has written an award-winning book on surveillance and film. Wise received his master’s and doctorate degrees in speech communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he is currently a professor at Arizona State University where he has served as department chair, associate dean, and interim school director. To “get Wise,” read on.
What is your favorite memory from your time at Trinity?
My favorite memory from my time at Trinity was meeting my wife.
Who was your favorite professor or class at Trinity?
It is hard to choose just one professor or class. I am very fond of William Christ, who was my adviser and mentor, and Harry Haines, who helped direct my honors thesis. I have kept in touch with both of them and have appreciated their guidance. I also loved my courses with Willis Salomon, who introduced me to critical and literary theory, and also C. MacKenzie Brown for his classes on Asian religions and mysticism.
Is there something you regret not pursuing while at Trinity?
Not really. I had enough flexibility to pursue not just the classes I needed to take, but those I wanted to as well, to balance out the academics with arts (theater, voice, life drawing).
Describe Trinity in 3-5 words.
Red bricks, books, and friends.
You have won an award for your book, Surveillance and Film. Were you surprised to win?
The book is about what has been called the surveillant imaginary, “the collection of stories, images, ideas, practices, and feelings that are associated with surveillance at a particular point in time” (p. 4). To quote the official summary of the book, “Surveillance is a common feature of everyday life. But how are we to make sense of or understand what surveillance is, how we should feel about it, and what, if anything, can we do? Surveillance and Film is an engaging and accessible book that maps out important themes in how popular culture imagines surveillance by examining key feature films that prominently address the subject.”
The award is given by the Surveillance Studies Network, the primary international organization promoting the research and scholarship on surveillance. The award was presented at their conference in June 2018 in Aarhus, Denmark.
I was quite surprised to win the award. Surveillance studies is a new and rapidly growing field, and the number of excellent books published recently is quite large. I was especially surprised because my book is written for a more general audience.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Why?
I wouldn’t mind being an antiquarian bookseller, and perhaps learning how to repair books.
Do you have a favorite hobby?
Collecting books and running long distances.
Where would you like to retire?
On my couch.