College:College of Arts and Humanities
Degree Program:Texts and Technology PhD
Research Focus:Visual imagery and digital activism of the George Floyd protests social movement
Christopher Odom has long been drawn to the significance of visual stories. Their power to influence people and enact social change through digital mediums captivated him and led him to pursue a PhD in Texts and Technology at UCF. He believes that digital stories may hold the key to making a difference in our society and raising awareness about issues that might otherwise be ignored. “What someone feels through the power of imagery and story might inspire them, over time, to change the world,” he says.
Coming from a family of civil rights activists, Odom felt drawn to the protests that emerged after the murder of George Floyd, all while in the middle of a global pandemic. He wanted to positively contribute to society by studying visual strategies in social media that could help promote public opinion and influence legal action, which he is researching for his dissertation. “I am interested in what cultural role the visual imagery may have played in motivating people globally to take to the streets in such large numbers to demand justice and social change, particularly for persons of color,” he explains.
Odom emphasizes the impact of the split-second decision made by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier to record the confrontation between former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and George Floyd, which ended in the murder of George Floyd. The video generated awareness and ultimately ignited an entire social movement for justice and social equity. Odom expresses how the stories and first-person perspectives shared from audio and video can be empowering when even one person decides to take action. In the digital age, the reach of technology makes capturing significant moments and promoting public action accessible for everyone. “Anyone can make a difference,” he says.
At UCF, Odom appreciates how the Texts and Technology program centers justice and social change at the forefront of the curriculum. He credits the faculty with making his research possible and encouraging him to pursue his interests when he was a student. Odom describes Dr. Blake Scott, his dissertation committee chair, as a “beacon of light” for his research and a champion for his hybrid dissertation, which comprised of a traditional paper and creative work. He also had the opportunity to take courses with Dr. Anastasia Salter, whom he describes as an exceptional educator that helped illuminate the path that he wanted his studies to take.
The university has always held a special place in his heart. As a sophomore in high school, Odom had the opportunity to participate in a summer program at UCF for students of color through the “A Better Chance” organization. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television Production from Georgia State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television from UCLA, he decided to come back to UCF. While working towards his doctoral degree, he was highly involved on campus and served on the first ever Graduate Student Advisory Council.
In the future, Odom hopes to continue serving the community by engaging in activities that advance society and enhance culture, whether as an educator, administrator, researcher, creator, or in another capacity that enables him to continue helping those around him.
- Served on the SDES Student Advisory Council
- Member of the Graduate Student Advisory Council
- Received the Delores A. Auzenne Fellowship for minority students
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