Perks of Teaching

Possibly the best part of teaching–apart from the relationships with students and the creation of curriculum–is the free books. And the new paperback editions of older books. It’s always nice to find brand new books in your mailbox. And I am very lucky to be able to teach these four books next term. Not only do I know these texts very well and not only have they influenced my writing as well as my worldview, but I also feel passionate about these texts and their importance for younger minds.

And this next term in my composition 112 class will be more of an experiment than any other term. I will continue to teach literary analysis of creative nonfiction and we will read David Sedaris, Joan Didion and Chuck Palanhiuk. But I will also teach Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. I have called this book a post-structurialist analysis of history while I am sure Zinn would call it a history focused on the American people rather than on leaders and government officials. And the writing is just so simple and straight-forward. Usually I make photo copy of the chapters I feel pertinent to the assigned historical events in dispute I ask students to write about but now we can enjoy the full text and spend more time with Zinn’s works cited/bibliography. (The documentary You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train shows just how serious and earnest Zinn is about his work as well as how his life experience in WW II and in the civil rights movement has informed his historical world view.) Critics call the work revisionist and ‘liberal’ but that was what the 60’s and the post-structuralist movement was about–looking at historical fact as theory. Also we will be able to use the graphic novel as a companion and do some real interesting things with our research. I am very excited about using this text.

Also I will be co-teaching a novels course with D. The theme of the course is male and female fiction. I have chosen Kerouac’s On the Road, Bukowski’s Factotum and Diaz’ Oscar Wao; she has chosen A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, the Color Purple by Alice Walker and the Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I have not read her selections but I will be shortly–if I can find and make the time over the XMas holiday. But so far looks like some interesting contrasts thematically are presenting themselves. I am looking forward to the first week of classes where D and I will be in the class introducing female and male issues and observations we find concerning gender and creative/story related literacies.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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