How I became a Professor: “I always loved reading and writing, and I always wanted to be a writer, and I wasn’t as excited about teaching English because I was painfully shy, I could not speak a word in a class, most the time – this is true. I worked as a journalist a lot…but I found that when I went to college, I went to a school that didn’t have a journalism major…and so I got an English major, which I thought made sense to be a journalist – and I loved it! Literature just has always been really important to me, but, being in a class where you can talk to people about literature and kind of bring the ideas I had been experiencing individually and kind of share them with others, that was exciting.”
Before Marietta: “I taught Brit Lit [at a community college], believe it or not…I wasn’t very good at it. It’s not my field! But, they didn’t care. You’re English Professor? PhD? We’ll take you. Don’t put that in print (laughs). That was interesting; I had not taught at a community college before, and it was a totally different experience from teaching at someplace like Marietta.”
What I like best about this campus: “I love the students; I love my colleagues (laughs)…I love the excitement of students when they’re kind of – you know, everyone talks about students being away from home for the first time and getting into trouble but, they’re away from home for the first time and discovering themselves, you know, and I like to see that. Especially when you see students across four years and, you encounter them early in their career, and you think “…Eh, I don’t know,” and then later on they kind of prove themselves in a cool way. Teaching Literature in particular, I love the way that it opens doors to talk about a lot of really important issues, because you talk about literature, and you talk about rhyme, and rhythm, and those kinds of things, but! you’re talking about the meaning of life, a lot of the time, and I’m excited about that. I like talking about the meaning of life; I like having opportunities to ask students questions that may not have immediate answers. And even if we don’t resolve them there, for them to take those questions away with them and, I hope the questions annoy them; you know, kind of bore in.”
My area(s) of concentration: American Literature. I’ve done work on late the nineteenth and early 20the century, Ohio and the Midwest, New Zealand, California, and Florida Literature.
I feel my strengths as a professor are: “I think I’m – creative – in the way I present the material, I hope, and I think I’m obsessive in the amount of feedback I’m willing to give students on their writing. Both a strength and a weakness (laughs) because sometimes people don’t want 800 comments on their papers. And I think I’m good at – maybe this is not a strength (laughs) – at pushing students to try to get to the next level, and not kind of accepting mediocrity.”
I struggle with: “I have a really strong tendency to use sarcasm in ways that students don’t always appreciate. The one thing I dislike is a class that won’t talk. I always try to figure out ways to deal with that.”
I revise my classes: For a class she consistently teaches, every year. For those that come around less often, every time it’s taught. “Not like wholesale dumping the thing! But yeah, revising.” She rereads her material before every class, because “They’re wonderful! Who wouldn’t want to read A Streetcar Named Desire again!?”
What I want to gain from teaching: “I hope students will learn more about literature, develop an appreciation for literature, also develop different ways of looking at and thinking about the world. I think literature can really open up people’s eyes; that’s the strength of literature. You can be inside someone else’s head. What else let’s you do that? Unless you’re a brain surgeon, well really nothing else.
What I want my students to walk away with: “I just really like the energy in the classroom, and the chance to talk about ideas with people who are interested in ideas…I just get a lot of joy, I guess, out of talking about great literature and sharing it with people.”
Why you should consider this English Department: “This is a really great place to be; I love my colleagues; in our department, we get along together really well, and there’s a great kind of humor level in our department, that, humor really smooths away a lot of the strife that you sometimes get in academic departments which are known for horribleness. It’s just a good place to be; it’s good to be involved in like, you know, the life of the mind, which sounds so abstract, but is really kind of fun.”
I have published: Multiple essays through the Inter-Disciplinary Press, and Pedagogy.
Also, you may visit my blog at: http://excelsiorbev.blogspot.com/
If I could teach any class, it would be on: “Garbage. Yes; the theme of garbage in literature. You could go with (laughs) A.R. Ammons, and um, Don DeLillo with Underworld, and our mutual friend, Dickens, just the idea of garbage kind of flows underneath a lot of works and ties cultures together.”