How I became a Professor:“I’ve always loved to read and write, and that’s kind of like, the thing I’m good at. So that helped make the decision. And then I finished college and worked in Washington D.C. for a bit and realized that politics was not for me. I was like, ‘Get me into grad school now!’ I’ve always been the person who was asked to edit and revise for others, so you know, it was part of grad school; your stipend comes from teaching and then I just fell in love with it. I liked that you’re teaching really useful skills but also developing relationships with students.”
Before Marietta:“I taught at Purdue as a graduate student; we were called T.A.’s, but we had our own classes and made our own syllabi. So I had seven years of that, and then one year as a lecturer there.”
What I like best about this campus:“I like that I can know students in a lot of different…locales, like I know students who I don’t just teach. We’re such an active campus, and there’s so much going on, that you can get to know students on a lot of different levels. I like that we’re given the opportunity to do things outside the classroom; like I also direct the Peer Mentor Program, that was just an opportunity that opened up that I would never have thought to pursue. It’s a nice flexible campus I think.”
My area(s) of concentration:“Early American Lit, so really dead people to 1865. But I focus mostly on the nineteenth century and women’s writing.”
I feel my strengths as a professor are:“I think, on my good days, I can recognize that students are students and that they’re people, and that sometimes they need to be looked at not as people who are performing in a classroom but as people who are living lives, and I think I’m good at the relationship aspect of teaching. Sometimes [laughs]. I think I have really high standards as a writing instructor, both in writing 101 and my upper level English classes, and students usually hate that except by the end of the semester or two or three years later after they’ve recovered, they’re saying ‘Oh! That was the reason I had to write those nasty one-pagers, and I can see the fruit of that.’ So I think long-term that’s probably my strength…I realized that a lot of the dumb stuff my professors did wasn’t so dumb, but it really felt like it at the time, so I understand that.”
I struggle with:“Everything. How to balance content and context in the survey class, when you have to know the history to understand the text, but then the history can become the text, so you forget to look at The Scarlet Letter. That’s a real challenge for me. And…I get impatient, sometimes (definitely) and then I struggle with knowing how much I should expect students to be independent with. Like for instance, I don’t think that it’s a mistake to think that if a student doesn’t know a word, he will look it up, but! it is often a surprise that that doesn’t happen…but on the other hand I don’t know if there are some times when I’m expecting too much and so I’m constantly guessing and reguessing and making changes too extremely. It’s kind of a yo-yo thing.”
I revise my classes:“All the time. Every semester. Even the same ones over and over again. Because then they get boring and you can kind of see what works and what doesn’t when you teach the same class every semester.”
What I want my students to walk away with:“I want students to leave having grown in terms of how they can think and write and approach the world and understand how they’re interacting with the world, so they can have a more nuanced perspective than when a student first comes in it’s often, this-or-that, and I really like to mess that up. But then too I really love watching – especially now that I’ve been able to advise a student from first year to graduation – it’s so cool to be able to say ‘Oh my goodness, this is eight times more polished and stronger than that was your first year writing."
What I want to gain from teaching:“I feel like these two go hand in hand because that’s rewarding and I know that I’ve helped in the education process.”
Why you should consider this English Department:“I think we’re challenging, and we’re not boring, and I think at a lot of schools you don’t get the same one-on-one attention and personal investment, and understanding that all people are complicated, so I don’t know that you necessarily have an English member asking about family, or the trip to Brazil, or whatever it was that the student did. I think that’s a benefit of our department, because it’s not just ‘We’re English and we’re cool,’ but because we care and we also get along really well, which means there can be a lot of synthesis between the classes. Like, I know what Dr. Hogue is teaching, and sometimes we overlap really well. One of the students in my class said, ‘I feel like I’m getting the same thing from different directions in every class!’ and they’re seeing these parallels between Fight Club and The Scarlet Letter, you know, so there’s this really cool synergy and I don’t know that you’d get that elsewhere. I know I didn’t.”
I have published:
Studies in American Humor:
“The Female Body and ‘Sin[s] against Convention’ in Elizabeth Stoddard’s Daily Alta California Columns”
The article can be read online through your local library:
Livengood, Nicole. “The Female Body and ‘Sin[s] against Convention’ in Elizabeth Stoddard’s Daily Alta California Columns” Studies in American Humor 3.24 (2011): 31-44. Ebscohost. Web. 9 May 2013.
If I could teach any class, it would be on:“I have two I’m dying to teach. I really want to teach one on Puritanism, but I want to look at how Puritans have been reflected across history; so, using contemporary depictions of Puritans. And then reading them alongside the original texts…Saints and Sinners is what I was going to call it, so we’d have the Orthodox and then we’d have the Rebels. And then I want to teach a Sensationalism class, because the books are so wild, just totally weird…It’s like watching reality T.V. almost, or the really terrible movies when they’re just so bad you can’t help but keep watching.”