By Tyler Mitchell – Staff Writer
Joining St. Ambrose last fall, Brittany Tullis is a Spanish professor. She received her education from the University of Iowa and is an avid comic nerd. She commutes from her hometown of Iowa City where she lives with her boyfriend and his son, Atticus.
Q: What was your favorite television show as a kid?
A: Reading Rainbow. I think I was a bookworm. I enjoyed playing outside, but I really, really loved to read books. So I think I was excited that there was a show just about reading books. It was great.
Q: What is it that reading offers you?
A: I think there is something about reading where it opens doors into realities that you don’t necessarily exist within. To some extent, it is escapism.
Q: Who is your favorite superhero and why?
A: Oh, probably Wonder Woman. She went through some unfortunate times in the ‘70s. The writing changed, so the guy who initially created Wonder Woman–I believe he was a psychologist–but he created this really feminist female character at a time when not much of that was going on in comics. I think that she was a really inspiring figure for a lot of girls. It does impact children growing up, so it is good to have examples like that.
Q: What first interested you in comics?
A: As an academic, they just get really overlooked. I think it’s one of those things in the fields of Spanish literature and culture where everybody’s looking at novels, short stories and films. But comic books kind of get pushed off like they’re not serious enough to be looked at. I think that it’s really important that people realize it’s not just kid stuff. I guess for me I really want there to be more work that shows people how important and how expressive the genre can be.
Q: What made you decide you wanted to study Spanish?
A: Actually, it was my hatred for Spanish! As an undergraduate, I was not a really focused student. Spanish was the class that above all I really just resented because it was every day and I wasn’t very inspired by the TA’s I had. Essentially, I ended up speaking Spanish through trying to avoid it. I took two semesters and I did horribly. But then my junior year I realized that if I was going to graduate, I needed to finish my requirement. So I thought, “What’s the easiest way I can make this happen?” And I did study abroad, and I moved to Venezuela and it just absolutely changed my life.
Q: What do you enjoy doing must during your free time?
A: I am an avid cyclist. I really love to bike. Especially in spring, summer and fall I really like to bike.
Q: If you could visit any historical time period, where would you visit and why?
A: Some of the things that were going on during the Civil Rights Movement, like the 60s, some of those speeches…There was a lot of really ugly and unfortunate things going on at the time, but that was one of those moments of change that would be pretty amazing to witness.
Q: What are you addicted to?
A: Coffee. I love all kinds of coffee.
Q: Who has inspired you the most in your life?
A: This is of course a cheesy answer, but I would say my parents. I don’t think one more than the other. But they’re both good, solid Midwestern people who’ve worked really, really hard and made a lot of sacrifices for their children and I have a lot of respect for that.
Q: With your tattoos, does each one have a specific meaning?
A: Yeah. They all have a little bit of meaning. Like I have a Borges quote on my arm from his short story “Borges y Yo”, which is my favorite story in Spanish. It’s pretty heavy stuff. It’s about one page depending on the medium, but it’s this really pretty play on duality of the self, like all the ways in which people are different.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: The thing that I love most about working at St. Ambrose is having really close contact with my students. I like the fact that it is very much a teaching university and I get to do my research and things like that on the side. But I also get to incorporate it into classes and share my love of comics with students like you!