This article was published on the Global Philadelphia Association website (www.globalphiladelphia.org) in August 2013 and was featured on Chestnut Hill College’s website (www.chc.edu)
Suzanne Del Gizzo, PhD is poised and always conveys thoughts and ideas with the utmost articulation. She shows passion and enthusiasm through hand-gestures, and rises and falls in her vocal inflections. Her appearance is put-together in the way that only a literature professor can manage, with the confidence and elegance of the dancer she was in her youth. Her confidence is exuded through her upright posture, as well as her purposeful use of speech and language. She holds the same sense of effortless self-assuredness whether standing in-front of a classroom teaching the literature of Hemingway or Whitman, or discussing trying times in life sitting behind the desk in her comfortably decorated, dimly-lit office, eating a microwaved pasta meal.
In front of a classroom, her hair is pulled back into a soft but wavy ponytail that looks in no way childish. She is clearly a fan of chunky sweaters which balance out her small frame. While she looks younger than she is, there is no denying that she conveys the wisdom she has attained through years of study and experience. Once you learn that she had been a ballerina, you cannot mistake the elegance learned through this practice.
When I interviewed Del Gizzo, we met after an American Literature class of her favorite era, the modern, in her office in the antique and beautiful St. Joseph’s Hall at Chestnut Hill College. Her office holds many portraits of famous American writers, Hurston, Fitzgerald, Nin, Stein, Hemingway, Miller, and an abundance of art, including the paintings of Zelda Fitzgerald while she was committed in an insane asylum. The wood paneling, the window behind the desk, and the books in the room make it feel as if it would be a nice place to sit down for a cup of coffee or tea, and curl up with a book for hours. Surprisingly, this room is not her favorite work space. She prefers her home office, with its orange walls, wooden desk, and, her favorite aspect, absolute silence. There, she sits with a cup of coffee, and ensures the she wears absolutely no restrictive clothing or tights, as she ruminates and works on scholarly essays, but only after devoting each afternoon and evening to her young daughter who she raises alone.
When Dr. Del Gizzo was a child, she grew up in a large family which she referred to as both “unorthodox and orthodox.” She lived in a small town in New Jersey and went to Catholic school her entire young life, until her third year of college. The “orthodox” aspect of her childhood lays in her all girls’ Catholic education. About her family, Del Gizzo says that “on the one hand it looked very normal: regular house, regular kids. But on the other hand we were very unusual the second you got in a little deeper.” Her mother married and divorced a number of times, leaving her in a “hodge-podge of a family,” with a mix of Catholic and Jewish step-brothers and step-sisters. She found it exciting and interesting. Throughout her youth, she knew she wanted to take a step away from the small, religious aspects of her upbringing.
Before Del Gizzo devoted herself to a “life of the mind,” she lived and learned a “life of the body” through the ballet she practiced diligently. She took ballet seriously, and most likely would have pursued it further, except that she had to have an urgent and rare eye surgery which incapacitated her for an entire summer. “I had a big scar on my face and I didn’t like to go out so I used to just hang out in my house and I got into reading, and writing, and painting during that time, partially, I think, to survive,” Del Gizzo said, reflecting. That was the turning point for her, and from then on, she was defined by intellectualism.
Even in the mix of such a huge family, the person closest to her in life is her sister Meredith. “She’s my soul mate in the world and it’s not easy to live closely with people throughout, and you know your siblings longer than you know anybody else in your life,” Del Gizzo said fondly. She wants to replicate this beautiful relationship in her bond with her daughter Hadley (named after Hemingway’s wife), to the extent possible in a mother-daughter relationship.
Also, while she admits she is greatly shaped by men and the male authors she predominantly studies, whom she learned her sense of professionalism from, she was greatly molded by her grandmother. Her grandfather died at a young age, leaving her grandmother to raise her young mother alone, at only the age of 28, and “she did it with elegance,” according to Del Gizzo. “She did something that was incredibly difficult, and she suffered tremendously at a very young age. I’ve always found that incredibly inspirational, that there was this little Irish girl from New Jersey who thought she had a happy marriage and a perfect life and her husband dropped dead.” This mix of important men and women in her life has led her to become a strong woman. Sally Simons, a student of Del Gizzo’s, said that she “seems to be a feminist who wants and believes other women should be empowered.” This aura must come from the strong men she admires and from her outstanding grandmother.
As an Undergraduate, she went to Holy Cross University for her first two years, before deciding she did not want to attend such a religious institution, and transferred to NYU. There, she studied Philosophy and Literature, and learned and comprehended the importance of diversity and follow-through. She was always disappointed with herself when, because of a time constraint or lack of energy, she did not give her all to an assignment or project, and from that, she learned that she needed to “try as much as possible, if it is a project that mattered to me, to step back, dig deep, find the energy, and do it right.” That lesson has served her very well throughout her life. This realization reflects one of her favorite quotes, “Never confuse movement with action.” While she learned all of these tough life-lessons, she finds humor in her most difficult accomplishment during college, passing her math class.
Del Gizzo has always been a woman of many trades, with widely varying interests. She knows as much as one can learn about American literature, its important figures, and its background, but also knows a great deal about the disciplines of philosophy, art, history, and film. On the other hand, she loves to keep herself up-to-date on what is happening in the world of neuroscience, delving into the non-fiction of the topic for enjoyment and learning about something she doesn’t have a vast wealth of knowledge on. She devotes her entire focus to whatever her task of the moment may be.
Before becoming a college professor, she had worked for a short time in the publishing industry, but found no passion or fulfillment in the cubicles and fluorescent lights that come with those professions. “I just found it really soulless and really hard to relate to,” she said. She had felt so alienated from the sense she had developed of who she was during her Undergraduate years, which compelled her to enroll in Graduate school at the University of Chicago and a PhD program at Tulane University in New Orleans. She loves teaching, despite its daily challenges surrounding the changing atmosphere of the higher-education system, nation-wide. She becomes very excited about material she loves and covers in class. “She always has enthusiasm for her classes and wants her students to be equally as excited about the subject matter that is up for discussion,” Simons said. She is proud that she has organized a Hemingway conference in Switzerland, which took a massive amount of hard work and dedication to her subject of study, and edited two books. She also feels greatly accomplished in raising her daughter on her own.
Lamenting the lack of preparedness in teaching she failed to gain through higher-education, she had to teach herself classroom skills. In her opinion, higher education is in the process of a great change, along with the current changes in our culture and class divides. If she could teach any other topic, she would love to challenge herself with a film class, but for now, she is a shining professor of American literature at Chestnut Hill College, who revels in living an intellectual life.
What do you think of when imagining the online video site YouTube? Usually, people tend to see it as an endless void of cat videos and the latest dance craze neatly displayed on a white background, with comments of a low intellectual level. However, there is much more to YouTube than “David after Dentist” and “Gangnam Style.” While there is an abundance of simple entertainment and grammatically incorrect or crude comments, YouTube actually has a wide variety of interesting and educational videos. This “how-to” and educational genre involves anything from eye shadow tutorials, to how to use your iPhone, to videos about quantum mechanics or the War of 1812.
There are many popular educational YouTube channels, many of which with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The content creators of these channels are very passionate and enthusiastic about what they are teaching – whether that involves explaining about the origin of curse words, telling the story of Phineus Gage through song, or contemplating whether the TV show Community is post-modern art through explanation of post-modernity and the themes of the show. Some of these YouTubers are even professionally paid for their videos. Personally, I have learned about makeup techniques and literature, topics I already know a lot about and have a deep interest in, but I have also learned about history and physics through educational YouTube channels, which gives me interesting conversation starters at parties. Educational channels are a growing arena in online video that many people are unaware of, with YouTube’s stigma of time-wasting content, but something worth learning from, as you can find well-made and deeply informed videos of virtually any topic.
Educational videos on YouTube can be legitimately instructive and enlightening, and can come from many sources, from colleges and universities, to college students in their dorm rooms, to middle-aged people with masters degrees in their offices. The article “Higher Education Migrates to YouTube and Social Networks” by Marilyn Gilroy, professor at Bergen County College, published in the Education Digest, discusses how colleges and universities are using YouTubeU to provide educational videos from their classes to students and anyone interested in learning, worldwide. She also discusses other educational video sites, and social media sites that colleges and professors are using. More colleges and universities are catching on to the importance of creating a presence in online learning, where teaching and learning can occur anywhere, at any time.
Gilroy talks about the uses of YouTubeEDU in her article, which describes itself as a way to achieve worldwide insight and instruction. It is a part of YouTube entirely involved in educational videos. YouTube is calling this section of their site “a free, self-organizing, democratic website containing all the world’s knowledge.” On the site, any teacher at a two- or four-year college or university can upload educational content which anyone can access, worldwide. There are videos featuring educational topics from well-known and ivy-league colleges and universities like Stanford, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
It was interesting to find how many colleges and universities utilize YouTube and their YouTubeEDU services because I’m more familiar with educational videos that aren’t actually academically affiliated with colleges. Gilroy’s article explains how YouTubeEDU “promises an environment in which ‘any qualified teacher can contribute and absolutely anyone can learn.” In this way, YouTubeEDU focuses on the importance of the wider world reaching out for quality information, rather than just students. In this way, YouTube is broadening the possible market for educational video.
The author also mentions that there are some critics who don’t believe in the use of video and social media in higher education by dismissing these platforms as fads that will fade over time. This argument seems to be incorrect so far, because while this piece was written in 2009, people are still learning with online video, even more so through individual educational channels. YouTubeEDU might not be wildly popular itself, but the wider genre of educational videos on YouTube certainly is, and has grown in popularity over time with students as well as adults who are out of school. The author uses quotes from Heather Mansfield, an owner of a consulting business, throughout the article. Mansfield said “higher-ed has been entirely too cautious, and they probably don’t realize the damage they are doing to themselves,” by not participating enough in social media like YouTube. The author says that if she is right, the way the world interacts with higher education will change. I agree that it is important for colleges and universities to have educational tools online for students and non-students alike, but to me it is also important for there to be a presence of non-academically affiliated educational content on YouTube. Non-affiliated channels make learning feel like more of a casual experience of looking further into topics of interest, rather than structured learning. Watching educational videos for fun and personal interest can make the process more engaging. However, this does bring up the question of whether some people’s educations will take place entirely through educational video services rather than attending school or online college as it exists now. Maybe the education system will be entirely different, a thing in which people can sit in their living room munching on pretzels and texting in peace while watching their lecture on Social Psychology.
YouTube: Socially Relevant
In the article “’It Took Me About Half An Hour, But I Did It!’ Media Curcuits And Affinity Spaces Around How-To Videos On YouTube” Simon Lindgren, the author discusses how YouTube is truly a social networking platform where connections and friendships are made in the comments section of how-to videos, rather than merely a host for entertainment. This research was very interesting and useful, and goes in-depth into YouTube as a platform for community engagement, especially within the realm of the how-to genre. According to this article, as of 2010, YouTube has 24 hours of videos uploaded each minute, with over 2 billion views each day. With that large capacity for content, great educational videos and interesting communication can easily occur.
Lindgren’s take on the social media aspect of YouTube is interesting, and in my own experience, accurate. She says that with its “various forms of interaction, including possibilities to comment and rate videos, as well as commenting and rating the comments themselves,” YouTube is a social community site with peer support systems and constructive criticism on instructional videos. The commenting system, which can lend to negative or even “trolling” comments, can be very beneficial for building relationships between content creators and those who consume the content. YouTube comments are, in many cases, part of the process of learning from how-to videos, and there is much engagement in this category the topics are very widespread, from cooking, to makeup, to educational videos, there is a how-to video for everyone. Lindgren says that in the comments section of YouTube videos “people come together because of common endeavors or interest, rather than of race, class, gender, disability, etc. Newcomers and masters all share the same space, and the creation, exchange and distribution of knowledge is an important part of the common activities.” Personally, I try to comment on the videos of a lot of the vloggers I watch, but I also comment on educational videos if I took something particularly important away from it, which could lead to relationship and community building among myself, other commenters, and the video creator.
Vloggers as Educators
Hank Green, a very popular YouTube video-blogger and entrepreneur, has been working on two educational channels since January of 2012, SciShow, an educational science channel, and CrashCourse, which has covered biology, chemistry, world and American history, with a brief foray into literature, with his brother, John Green. Both Green brothers are very passionate about educational video on YouTube, and started out making a few, teaching various subjects on the Vlogbrothers channel, which sparked them to continue making more of this content, with interesting and eye catching visuals made by the company Thought Bubble. Most of the videos on CrashCourse and SciShow are 10 to 15 minutes long, much shorter than the average college class, but much longer than the average entertainment YouTube video.
“Making educational video has a different value proposition for the consumer of that video than making entertaining video,” Hank said, in the Vlogbrothers video entitled “Revolutionizing Education…With Weirdos.” “It’s just a different thing, and I think it has the potential to change the face of the world.” He also declares that it is wonderful to see old industries innovating and fitting into the current technological capabilities. Hank says, to his brother John, “There is nothing right now that excites me more than revolutionizing how we teach, and also what we teach. And John, I honestly think that we are so lucky to be there. And of course we are lucky to have a community who support that.”
With YouTube, education has the chance to change forms and origins. Rather than learning predominately from teachers and parents, we can learn from friends, strangers we judge as intelligent, people with interesting views, those with skills we don’t encounter on the daily basis; virtually anybody. Personally, I have had incredible experiences with educational video. I have learned things I never would go out of my way to know about had YouTube not been an option, and developed an interest in the work of brilliant video creators. It allows content creators and consumers to engage and interact, for people to learn in new, possibly simpler ways, to take in information quickly, and to always be able to access the information later. Those who make education videos on YouTube, as well as those who watch, are excited about how this type of content is progressing in the future, as YouTube becomes so much more than cultural crazes. Who knows, maybe Vlogbrothers videos like “Froghoppin’ with Gatsby,” a mix of amusement and education, are the next viral videos of the world.
You are standing in-front of your open closet. The overwhelming expanse of your entire wardrobe is staring you in the face. You glimpse through the chaos of clothing and know that you need to get rid of what you no longer wear. But how are you supposed to get rid of that hot pink BCBG banded dress with the cutout in the back? You wore it once and it became that useless piece that you know you should take to the thrift store or consignment shop, except that you can’t. It was a remarkable dress and you paid $125 for it. That was hard earned money, made slaving over Iced Venti Soy Caramel Macchiatos for wealthy middle aged women (who don’t need to think twice about dropping that amount of cash on a dress, to only wear it once). You can’t bear the thought of giving it away or only making $10 on it.
So don’t go the traditional thrift/consignment route. Even E-bay is old news. Two new sites, Threadflip and Poshmark, are virtual thrift stores that are revolutionizing the secondhand clothing market. You can safely sell items to other fashionable women who will value your old clothing and accessories, and where you can find new, chic, inexpensive pieces to add to your own collection.
Technology is making a great impact on selling and buying secondhand clothing. Sites like Threadflip and Poshmark are more convenient than using eBay or consignment shops because with those outdated methods, you don’t get the money that your clothes deserve and you don’t have access to the same fashionable pool of buyers. These are two truly innovative, highly functional ways to shop and sell unwanted items from your closet. Here’s how to get started:
On Threadflip, you can follow other users and can choose categories to shop from, much like that of any clothing store’s website. You can make your results show only items of your size, and narrow it down by brand, price, rank, popularity, and newness. The format of the results appears very similarly to that of the popular site Pinterest.
Threadflip takes a 20% commission on each item sold, so as a seller, you make 80% of your asking price. When you sell an item, you get a balance in your account. This money can be spent on others’ items, and once you make $25 or more, you are eligible to withdraw your money. In my personal experience, users seem more quick to buy on Threadflip.
They describe their innovative service as a “pioneering a new social shopping experience by offering women a simple way to convert their closets into a dynamic boutique-like experience, connecting buyers with sellers, and capturing the collaborative energy of shopping with friends.”
“We hope to revolutionize the world of online shopping by providing a new way to discover, buy and sell fashion,” reads Threadflip’s site. The CEO of the company came up with the idea when his wife had a unique and expensive pair of boots that she did not wear but also did not want to part with, unless she knew someone else would find them as special as she did.
On Poshmark, you create your closet, and follow and shop from others’. It has a very nicely functioning app that goes along with its website. Their impetus for the service is for women to have access to what they describe as their “style-mate.” According to their “About” page, you can list your items “in less than 60 seconds.”
Unique aspects of Poshmark include creating a “Cover-shot,” that has Instagram-like qualities to the photo uploader, and attending themed, virtual shopping parties. Just like with Threadflip, you send your items in pre-paid and pre-addressed shipping, which the buyer pays for.
The most difficult aspect of using Poshmark is bargaining with potential buyers. Due to its more social-media styled functionality, you interact with others and gain many followers (I have over 600 and have only used it for a month or two). Sometimes, buyers want to pay for their items through Paypal rather than through the site’s service, which can make the process more complicated. Poshmark takes a 20% commission on all sales, but you do not have to wait to retrieve the money you make. You have to work harder to sell on Poshmark, but there are unique aspects to the site that may make it worth using.
Selling unwanted clothing and accessories on Threadflip or Poshmark is great because you name your price for each item. That way, you don’t allow yourself to be ripped off by thrift stores like Plato’s Closet, or consignment shops. You can interact with potential buyers, and you don’t have to worry about paying for shipping. It’s much easier for people to find stylish items that they like in your “closet” than people using sites like Ebay for the same purpose, because you can follow people with styles like yours. Both Threadflip and Poshmark take a 20% commission from each item, but you are still making 80% of whatever you ask, so it is still a better deal than handing your clothes over and being told how much you can get at a thrift store/consignment shop.
- Go through your wardrobe and remove items that haven’t been worn in 3-6 months: Once this has been done, see if there are new ways that you can wear these pieces before confirming that you no longer want them.
- Once you have completely decided on what needs to go, take pictures of yourself in them. It is beneficial for potential buyers to see the clothes on you to see how it fits, and if their body type is similar to yours. Also, take multiple photos from different angles and distances. If the clothes no longer fit, take a picture of them lying nicely on a single-color background. The same goes for jewelry and accessories.
- Download the “Threadflip” or “Poshmark” app, or create an account on their websites, threadflip.com or poshmark.com
- You can upload your photos with your smartphone to both Threadflip and Poshmark. The upload tool works similarly on both smartphone apps. You can also upload manually through their websites.
- Come up with a reasonable price. Keep in mind that others using these apps are just as shopping savvy as you are, so they’re not likely to be enticed by an insanely overpriced top from Forever 21. The more expensive an item is, the more it is okay for you to ask for it. People pay more for top designers. It is helpful if you remember how much the items your selling originally cost. Keep in mind that both sites get 20% a commission on sales, and the buyer pays for shipping.
- Add an interesting description of your item, and make sure to include if there are any major problems with it, like holes. You don’t want to deceive your buyer, as you will likely lose your credibility. If you want, say what each piece would look great with. That will help the buyer know how to wear it when they buy it, and make them more interested in your “closet.”
- Wait for people to become interested in your “closet.” If you’re using Poshmark, it is best to interact with others; follow people and gain followers yourself, ask people if they’re interested in your items when they “like” them, and like and share others’ items. You can also post the link to your page on your other social media sites to generate more interest. Who knows, maybe one of your friends has been looking for that exact pair of boots you put up to sell.
- Once someone buys your item, you will be provided with a means to ship their item (paid shipping label), and all you need to do is send it out!
Finding cute and inexpensive clothes, jewelry, purses, or shoes is incredibly easy through sites like Threadflip and Poshmark. It is simple to find other girls with similar styles or sizes. In many cases, you can see how much the items cost originally, and see how much of a deal you will be getting. Also, sometimes sellers post items that are still unworn, with the original tags intact.
- Make an account and follow users with similar styles to yours. Both sites start you off with a few people to follow.
- Find clothes and accessories that you’re interested in. You can “like” them. On Poshmark, there are “Posh Parties” that make it easy to find things from a specific brand or style.
- On Poshmark, it is easy to negotiate with buyers if you feel the price is unreasonable. On Threadflip, the price is pretty much what you will have to pay.
- The shipping is included in the price displayed to you. Once you decide to buy something, the seller will be provided with a means to ship your item.
Try It Out!
Using sites like Threadflip and Poshmark to buy and sell nice but unwanted clothing and accessories is a great new way to get extra money for clothing collecting dust. It is also a great tool to get new, exciting, and remarkable pieces for the empty spots left in your closet. If you want to get your money’s worth out of your closet, these guidelines are worth a try.