Rollins

Mathews Publishes Book on Fraternities and Sororities

October 28, 2022

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

The book explores the complicated world of Greek life through English professor Jana Mathews’ own experience as a faculty advisor for a sorority.

Professor Jana Mathews in class with her students
Photo by Scott Cook.

English professor Jana Mathews has published The Benefits of Friends: Inside the Complicated World of Today’s Fraternities and Sororities to great acclaim.

The book describes how Mathews joined the National Panhellenic Society as a faculty advisor in a bid to connect with her students. For the next seven years, she attended sorority and fraternity chapter meetings, Greek Week competitions, leadership retreats, and mixers and formals. What she discovered was a complicated world of social hierarchy and peer influence.

Combining her personal observations with ethnographic field analysis and research culled from the fields of sociology, economics, and cognitive psychology, Mathews examines how Greek-letter organizations help reshape the conceptual boundaries of society’s most foundational relationship categories—including friend, romantic partner, and family.

Since its release in September, Mathews has written think pieces exploring the book’s topics for leading publications like Slate and The Chronicle of Higher Education.


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