Wednesday, September 26, 2012

5 Questions Series - Toby Coley



1. How did you arrive at your dissertation topic or most recent project of considerable scope?

Since I have already written on this blog regarding mydissertation topic, I’ll write about my current project.  After being hired to my current position (Assistant Professor of English) last year, I spent some time on campus arranging my office and getting the lay of the land before school started.  Early in my campus meandering I noticed a wall beside the campus memorial (a structure that represented an early administration building and an iconic part of the campus).  This wall contained several plaques from the early 1900s with inscriptions such as “Elocution Class of 1903” and “Literary Class of 1901.”  I was immediately intrigued.  I wanted to know what the teaching of writing was like at the campus during its early years.  In fact, my school—the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor—has the co-honor of being the oldest college in the state still in existence, chartered by The Republic of Texas in 1845 and its roots actually go back, as I learned in my research, to the 1830s.  Granted, we share this honor with Baylor University since both schools were the same college when started in 1846 in Independence, TX.  Due to my interests in the teaching of writing, I submitted a summer research grant proposal to my school and received a grant for part of the summer to do archival research, which led me to several Universities in Texas, to the State Archives and State library.  Lots of documents later, I am still collecting data and going through it but what I learned has been truly fascinating.  That’s how I came to this current project.


2. If you could go back and teach your grad school self one important thing about reading/writing/teaching/etc. that you learned after grad school, what would it be?

You never feel truly prepared for anything.  We are always in various states of preparedness, but we don’t let anyone know it.  Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who feels that way.

3. What aspect of being a professional scholar and teacher do you find most difficult?

Balancing your interests, needs, and responsibilities is always difficult.  Learn to say no; know what’s important; have a clear line of support and encouragement established. 


4. What do you like most about being a professional scholar and teacher?

The freedom to pursue that which interests me and have others who actually care about those interests and might share them. 

5. What kinds of things do you do to maintain your intellectual curiosity?

Read, read, read. Research what interests you and get involved locally.

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Toby F. Coley completed his PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from Bowling Green State University (OH) in 2011 and now teaches courses in Rhetoric and Composition, British Literature, Advanced Composition, and Advanced Rhetoric at UMHB. His research investigates the connections between writing, ethics, digital media, and religion. His publications have been featured in Rhetoric Review, Computers and Composition, Computers & Composition Online, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. His book, Teaching with Digital Media in Writing Studies: An Exploration of Responsibilities was published in the fall of 2011 (Peter Lang Press).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Questions Series - Jonathan Mayhew


1. How did you arrive at your dissertation topic or most recent project of considerable scope?

My projects tend to develop out of earlier ones. My current book-in-progress, What Lorca Knew, arose out of my previous two books, attempting to complete them or taking my ideas to a logical conclusion.

2. If you could go back and teach your grad school self one important thing about reading/writing/teaching/etc. that you learned after grad school, what would it be?

It would probably be the "Seinfeld chain," a simple method of keeping track of successive days of work.

3. What aspect of being a professional scholar and teacher do you find most difficult?

The work itself is not difficult. I do find it hard to do other things, like fix a leaky faucet.

4. What do you like most about being a professional scholar and teacher?

What I most value is the sense of personal autonomy, the ability to set one's own agenda and make the case for what one thinks is most important.

5. What kinds of things do you do to maintain your intellectual curiosity?

Reading books in languages I don't wholly master; exploring musical interests.

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Jonathan Mayhew is Professor of Spanish at the University of Kansas. He received his A.B in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Davis, and his PhD in the same field from Stanford University. He has taught at Ohio State University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Mayhew has blogged at Bemsha Swing since 2002 and remains involved in other blogging projects, most recently Stupid Motivational Tricks.

His interests fall into a few broad categories: Spanish and Spanish American poetry; contemporary American poetry and poetics; translation and translation theory; prosody; jazz; scholarly writing and how to get it done. He has written and published four books:Claudio Rodríguez and the Language of Poetic Vision, The Poetics of Self-Consciousness,The Twilight of the Avant-Garde, and Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch. His articles and reviews have appeared in prestigious academic journals of the US and Spain, including Diacritics, Hispanic Review, PMLA, Insula, and Revista de Libros.

Currently, Professor Mayhew is working on a project with the title: What Lorca Knew: Spanish Poetics and Intellectual History.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

...And We're Back! With a New Series!

Hello Constructing the Academy followers and readers! After a fairly inactive summer, I'm happy to announce a new series to accompany a new academic year.

As promised a while back, I have spent some time developing five questions whose answers, I hope, will be helpful for burgeoning academics in the humanities, and posing those questions to a variety of scholar-teacher-kind-hearted-persons I respect. The responses have started trickling in, and I will begin posting the answers weekly starting this Wednesday!


The answers I have already received represent a diversity of perspectives on the struggles and joys of academic life, and offer cogent insights regarding generating ideas and maintaining academic curiosity. I hope you will enjoy this series, fill the comment streams with feedback, and share these posts with your friends.

The questions:

1. How did you arrive at your dissertation topic or most recent project of considerable scope?

2. If you could go back and teach your grad school self one important thing about reading/writing/teaching/etc. that you learned after grad school, what would it be?
 
3. What aspect of being a professional scholar and teacher do you find most difficult?
 
4. What do you like most about being a professional scholar and teacher?
 
5. What kinds of things do you do to maintain your intellectual curiosity?
Look for the first installment of the 5 Questions Series on Wednesday, September 19!