Max Tohline: film for thought

Max Tohline came to Missouri S&T from Madeira, Ohio, in 2002 with a plan to study aerospace engineering. But an elective course in film caused his true passion to take flight.

20140812MaxTohline069“I always had an interest in film,” says Tohline, Engl’07. So he enrolled in Study of Film, a course taught at that time by James Bogan, Curators’ Teaching Professor emeritus of art history and film.

“Jim took this little spark of interest in film and turned it into a projector beam on full blast,” Tohline says.

It began during the first day of class. “He asked us what our favorite movie was,” Tohline recalls, “and someone said The Graduate. And I scoffed.” Bogan heard it and, according to Tohline, replied, “I hope that was a scoff for everybody who hasn’t seen the movie.”

Bogan’s playful rebuke led Tohline to watch the movie again. That second screening gave Tohline a new perspective on the film.

These days, Tohline is trying to help current students take a different perspective on life by having them watch and analyze movies. A lecturer in arts, languages and philosophy, he teaches the same course Bogan taught him — and countless other students for more than four decades.

The course attracts a wide array of majors, as it did during Tohline’s student days. Students may enroll because of their fondness for film, but there’s more to the course than weekly movies. Tohline uses the issues raised by the films he shows as entrées into serious philosophical discussions.

“In many disciplines, we are learning how to find the answers to questions that have been around for a long time,” Tohline says. “The right answer is already known. It’s in the back of the book.

“But if we want our graduates to take the lead in the future,” he adds, “they’ll need to come up with questions that have never been asked. That’s how innovation happens.”

That brainstorming happens at the end of each Tuesday night movie. After the credits roll, Tohline and the 50 or so students enrolled in his course hang around to discuss the questions posed by that evening’s flick.

“I like to think of it as a questions laboratory, where we ask, ‘How can I push myself to think a thought that I’ve never had before?’ Thought-provoking films are a great way to do that,” Tohline says. <

Around the Puck

Generous partners complete ACML fundraising

Thanks to an investment from the University of Missouri System, major gifts from industry partners and alumni support, S&T will break ground on the Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML) on Oct. 12, during Homecoming weekend.

[Read More...]

Alumni help with sesquicentennial planning

Seven alumni, including three Miner Alumni Association board members, have been named to Missouri S&T’s sesquicentennial advisory committee. The group is made up of graduates, students, faculty, staff and community members who are involved in planning the university’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebration.

[Read More...]

Using big data to reduce childbirth risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complications during pregnancy or childbirth affect more than 50,000 women annually, and about 700 of them die every year. Steve Corns, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering, is working with researchers from Phelps County Regional Medical Center through the Ozarks Biomedical Initiative to reduce […]

[Read More...]

Bogan solves Benton mural mystery

Missouri State Capitol muralist Thomas Hart Benton wrote in his memoir about being called into then-Gov. Guy Park’s office and told that a prominent St. Louis politician objected to Benton’s portrayal of black people, especially depictions of slavery.

[Read More...]

Breaking bias

According to Jessica Cundiff, assistant professor of psychological science at S&T, women who consider careers in the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are deterred by stereotypes that impose barriers on the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in STEM.

[Read More...]