Growing up in Malaysia, Rini Cobbey experienced Asian cultures’ interplay with popular Western media. It fueled her scholarly exploration of visual stories, world culture, and religion, including her recent research on Middle Eastern and Indian cinema.
Cobbey’s degrees include a B.A. in English from Gordon College, an M.A. in popular culture from Bowling Green State University, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature and cultural studies from the University of Connecticut.
For Cobbey, studying mediums of communication goes deeper than the books she’s read in university. “Popular media is the air we breathe. It’s significant to relationships, identity, and the language we speak,” she says. “It’s so much a part of how we understand what it means to be human.”
Because of her passion for studying and teaching communication, Cobbey has been a professor of communication arts at Gordon College for the last decade. She currently holds the title of associate professor and chair of the department.
While Cobbey has a broad range of degrees and teaching curriculum, she sees storytelling as the element tying everything together. Being able to study storytelling in a Christian context is what she appreciates most about teaching at Gordon.
“Because stories have to do with the essence of who we are, it’s natural that we would talk about sin, grace and a Creator,” says Cobbey. “In a Christian context we can explore with more depth because we have a common understanding about the foundations of humanity.”
Cobbey’s passion for finding connections between visual media, culture and Christianity has helped her inspire her students. “Gordon students have great vision, and it’s so exciting to help them along on their journey,” she says. “I am inspired when I see them considering new ideas and gaining bigger perspectives.”
In addition to teaching, Cobbey serves on the Core Curriculum Committee and as the faculty advisor to Gordon’s Third Culture Kid group, Mu Kappa. When Cobbey is not on campus, she enjoys living in downtown Lynn, Massachusetts, where she can open the windows of her fourth-floor condo and hear six languages, see restaurants of all different ethnicities, and smell the ocean—all at once.