The Interview Series: Dr. Chara H. Bohan, Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue Editor and AATC Past President

As a I reflect on my interview with AATC Past President, Dr. Chara H. Bohan, I am filled with joy and gratitude for her invitation to AATC in 2014. Dr. Bohan served as my PhD advisor and still currently serves as my tenure track/mom/ life advisor. AATC is a special conference for our academic family. In addition to the wonderful programmings, the conference serves as a reunion with my classmates and our beloved advisor.

Our conversation was wonderful as always. I am thankful we still talk several times a month. We had just spoken a few days before the interview. Yes, I still call her Dr. Bohan. I cannot bring myself to call her Chara… maybe one day? I’ll be paraphrasing our interview as we got off on personal tangents. 

Interviewed by Dr. Aubrey B. Southall

What do you think about when you are driving in your car alone?

Dr. Bohan’s commute is 45 minutes to an hour most days as she lives in the Atlanta suburbs and Georgia State University is in downtown Atlanta.

Dr. Bohan spoke about how she likes to make her time in the car educational. She enjoys listening to NPR and various podcast. She recently has enjoyed listening to Teaching Hard History and News in Slow French. Both of these podcast are very representative of Dr. Bohan’s current work and family life. Dr. Bohan along with Dr. Rob Baker, have run two NEH summer institutes on slavery and the Constitution. They are currently writing a book (Peter Lang) with Dr. LaGarrett King on the topic as well. Additionally, Paris is one of Dr. Bohan’s favorite cities. She had just returned from a trip when we spoke. Her husband works for a French company, which allows for yearly trips. Dr. Bohan also studied abroad in France and has fond memories of her host family.

When Dr. Bohan is not listening to NPR or podcast, she is reflecting on the day ahead. She is going over her courses and upcoming assignments. Dr. Bohan commented that she does not typically zone out in the car. She likes to use her car time wisely.

How do you go about dealing with criticism? What advice do you have for young scholars?

Rejection is a topic Dr. Bohan often discussed in class. When asked about criticism, she connected the topic to article submission and publication. We were all required to publish before graduation, so rejection was something many of my peers and I faced first-hand. Dr. Bohan would share her stories of rejection as well.

Dr. Bohan’s advice:

  • The first initial reaction is to be a little hurt. This is ok!
  • Second, take the criticism and work to improve the article.
  • If it’s a reject, fix the article, and submit somewhere else.
  • Remember the story of The Little Engine that Could. If you first you don’t succeed try, try again.
  • Persistence is an important attribute of higher ed.
  • Use criticism as motivation to improve.

What issue(s) in education are you writing about or thinking about right now?

As mentioned above, Dr. Bohan is working on a project with Dr. Rob Baker and Dr. LaGarrett King. The goal of the book is to help teachers understand ways to teach American Slavery. She believes this is such an important topic that should not be avoided, but taught well.

Dr. Bohan is always working on submitting articles about the Atlanta Nine with one of my former classmates, Tanya Crawford. Most recently, Dr. Bohan along with another one of my classmates, Dr. Lauren Bradshaw, and current student Wade Morris, published an article on Mint Julep textbooks.

What is your favorite quote?

If you have had many conversations with Dr. Bohan, you know she is fascinated with Thomas Jefferson. She gives all her students two-dollar bills at graduation. The bill serves as a nice reminder of our studies and to persist in reading and writing.

The quote she gave was fitting as her bookshelves are full and she is always adding to her collection.

“I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson, 1815