Making Scholarship Matter
Edited By Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin and Cynthia Reyes
Chapter Nine: Traveling Down a Desire Line: Surviving Where Academia and Community Meet
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Traveling Down a Desire Line
Surviving Where Academia and Community Meet1
“I’m a wanderer from way back,” I said to a colleague as we both left a meeting. We had been discussing my current position at the College of Liberal Arts and Science, where, from a tenure-track position in the English Department, I teach primarily English Education classes. A former high school teacher in Los Angeles, where I was raised, I went to graduate school at UC Berkeley, although there were many moves around the American West prior to that. Even though I am now near the opposite coast by choice, the parts of my career that I discuss in this chapter are the ones that have been unforeseen—the opportunities that initially seemed to be detours. I explore, in a non-chronological way, how traveling a desire line in academia, which is usually the most direct and/or easiest route between two points, has been a constructive, albeit non-linear, journey for me. I also question the assumption of linearity: Who defines what counts as “direct” or “easiest” in one’s development as an academic? In attempting to balance professional (i.e., tenure) expectations and my own sense of responsibility as an educator living and working in sociocultural contexts, I have moved along a path that has been both rewarding and challenging. While a desire line usually strays from an official path in order to establish a more...
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