Five books that made me

As the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote (or so the various quote websites have us believe),“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” So it is with me. books picture

A confirmed bibliophile, I may not be a surprising case, but I’ll never forget one of my co-workers at Lowes. An older man with rough hands, worn blue jeans, and work boots, he rasped contracting stories in a cigaret-stained voice about “idiots who didn’t know shit about construction.” 

But one day, during his break, when I was reading Don Quixote over a turkey sandwich, he sat down and started talking about books. Books he read in school, like Hemingway, Austen, Faulkner, and Dickens. Books his wife read, like Jody Piccoult and John Grisham. Books his father gave him, worn how-to manuals and beat-up hardcovers gathered from outdated encyclopedia sets.

“I miss reading,” he said, leaning back in his metal fold-out chair. “I miss the stories.”

Soon, I went back to the registers, thinking about it. Probably nothing would happen. But a few weeks later, he came in and pulled out a worn copy of the The Old Man and the Sea.

“My favorite,” he said. “I’ve never forgotten this book.”

Since then, I haven’t either.

Continue reading “Five books that made me”

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Hiatus over

Hey all, I think I’m finally back from my hiatus. I apologize. I had a busy semester, coupled with a persistent clinical depression. But now, with summer here, I’m ready to start posting again.

Me this summer. [image from genio]
Me this summer. [image from genio]
I figured this blog will offer a great chance for me to work through some summer projects. In addition to my summer jobs and the day-to-day concerns of life, I have three things in particular I’ve been working on:

1. My thesis groundwork: I’ll be writing about composition theory, ideally focusing on critical pedagogy, and where critical pedagogy intersects with new digital concerns, like online classes, content generation, and multi-media writing (or multimodal composition, to use the fancy term).

What is critical pedagogy? Probably a good topic for a later post. But in general, it’s an attempt to use education to empower marginalized or “oppressed” individuals and populations. One of its foundational texts–if not the foundational text–is Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968, trans. 1970), where Friere argues for a more “humanizing” role for education, breaking the “culture of silence” created by traditional education and the oppression for the poor that it creates.

2. Writing about Egypt and the Egyptian Revolution: My major creative project for this summer will be an exploration of Egypt and the turmoil that has haunted it the past few years (or longer, really), weaving the personal, the journalistic, and the academic. It’s a mutual project with another friend, who also has a lot invested in the Middle East and the Arab Spring. I hope to begin by looking at some of my older pieces, reading the news in depth, and building from there.

3. Figuring out the next step: I graduate next May, with my English M.A. From there, I’m not yet sure what I’m doing. I may go straight to PhD, in either rhetoric and composition or philosophy. I may stay home, trying to make some money as I figure things out. I may also look at AmeriCorps, Fullbright, or Teach for America. As of now, these are all viable possibilities, requiring research.

How these three projects will come together remains equally uncertain. I can already see a few links worth exploring. I’m looking forward to writing again. In the meantime, have a good day.

-Brett