Michael Begnal received his BA from Penn State University, and went on to earn his MFA from North Carolina State University. This semester he is teaching four sections of Eng 103: Rhetoric and Writing.
How would you describe yourself as a teacher?
I tend to combine a number of different modes, variously employing Socratic seminar-style discussion, in-class writing or group work, handouts, videos, and yes, even lecturing occasionally.
When are your office hours?
M/W 4:00-5:00pm and TH 12:30-2:00pm, at RB 393.
What are you reading?
I recently finished Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and now I’m beginning to re-read Everything’s an Argument (Lunsford, et al.), a composition textbook.
What do you think everyone should read?
Haniel Long’s documentary poem Pittsburgh Memoranda (1935), a forerunner to Muriel Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson. Long’s focus is the relation between the personal and the political in the face of economic exploitation, and Pittsburgh Memoranda can be approached both as a response to its own time (the Depression) and as a possible way forward in our current context.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom / what is a big mistake students tend to make?
I’d like to slightly reframe this and simply remind students that they are here for a reason, which is to learn and therefore to better themselves, that even today attending a university is still a privilege not everyone in the world is able to have, and that they are (or perhaps someone close to them is) paying a lot of money for the opportunity. Thus, it behooves all of us to be focused on the work at hand, to take it seriously, and to seize every available moment. That tweet or text can wait for an hour—learning how to sustain one’s concentration is a good and valuable thing.
What are you working on right now?
Some last minor edits to a chapbook-length collection of poems. I also recently completed a rewrite of an academic article I’ve been working on.
What are your other hobbies?
Music, film, baseball, Gaeilge (the Irish language).