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.


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).

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