Sunday, July 17, 2016
Changing reading habits and interests over time: Friend ML, former grad school colleague
Visiting this weekend w/ friends, two of whom were with me in the Buffalo English Dept in the 1970s, which has led us to reflect on our reading habits, interest, predilections, and desires then, and now. Although each of us had, to varying degrees, some career in academic life, none of us spent a lifetime teaching English at the college level, which was pretty much what the SUNY English program, like all others at the time, was supposedly preparing us to do. But the jobs were scarce, and our lives and interests changed and evolved over time. A few notes today and maybe over next 2 days as well about each of us. First, friend ML, who actually left the program w/ a master's and transitioned into a social work/counseling program, and for most of her career has been in high level student-affairs administration (advising, honors program) at a major state university. ML had an unusual pathway to the grad program - time off from school pursuing serious horseback riding, a 2-year "finishing college," before discovering a love for literature in her final 2 years undergrad at Drew. Mostly she was moved by some professors who read poetry - contemporary poetry - aloud. She entered the program w/ no clear academic goals, but knew she loved Faulkner (she didn't study his work, though) and several seemingly diverse poets: Whitman, Roethke, Levertov, GM Hopkins. Put those 5 together and you can see she was obviously drawn to writers with highly emotive, abundant, sometimes over-flowing language. As ML left the teaching profession for counseling and advising (later earning and Ed.D), she less and less returned to the authors she wrote about and studied in grad school (does anyone read poetry today - or is it only for study and performance?). Today, she most ready high-level series detective stories, particularly the Brits - GK Chesterson in particular - subjects that were not part of the canon even at Bufffalo, back then, but today are probably more and more recognized as cultural touchstones.