Dr. Rebecca Manery received her MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College, as well as her MA in Literacy Education from Northeastern Illinois University. Dr. Manery has recently earned her doctorate in English and Education from the University of Michigan. This semester, she is teaching four sections of ENG 103: Rhetoric and Writing.
How would you describe your perspective on teaching?
I share a view of teaching and learning as an interactive process in which understandings are constructed rather than given. As a teacher, my goal is to be a co-learner who actively engages students in their own learning.
When are your office hours?
Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00-3:00 P.M. and by appointment.
What are you currently reading?
I’m eager to begin reading Building Home: A Citywide Poets Anthology. This collection of performance poetry by Detroit teens was recently featured in The Detroit Free Press. I just finished reading The True American, the Freshman Connections featured book. My students and I attended the moderated discussion with Anand Giridharadas and Raisuddin Bhuiyan which has us thinking about how we can promote a world without hate.
What is a text that you think everyone should read?
I don’t think there’s a single text that everyone should read. In fact, after reading my students’ literacy narratives, it’s clear that many of them lost their joy of reading because they were forced to read books that didn’t interest them. There are so many wonderful books out there, but not all of them speak to me. I want my students to discover the books that speak to them, but that’s difficult to do when all the reading they are assigned to do has been chosen by someone else.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a big mistake that students tend to make?
Learned passivity is my biggest grievance with students. High school students often become dependent on teachers to tell them what they are supposed to do, remind them of deadlines, re-explain assignments, etc. That won’t fly in college. I understand it’s easier to shoot off an email to your professor than double-check the assignment sheet, ask a classmate, or come to office hours, but I have 100 students. If I answered all of the “what am I supposed to do” emails I get, I wouldn’t have time for anything else.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
I have two book projects in the works. My first poetry collection, View from the Hotel de l’Etoile, is due out in October from Finishing Line Press. I am in the process of finalizing the manuscript for Can Creative Writing Really Be Taught?: Tenth Anniversary Edition which I am co-editing with Stephanie Vanderslice and to which I’ve contributed a chapter. That’s coming out from Bloomsbury Press next year. This weekend I’ll be attending the very first conference of the Creative Writing Studies Organization of which I’m a founding member.
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
I recently adopted a rescue dog, so most of my spare time is spent taking Jorah to the ARF Bark Park, walking him, and playing with him. Reading, writing, swimming, traveling, and spending time with my family in Michigan are among my favorite activities.
What is a piece of advice you would offer students?
I was astonished to hear a freshman talk about college as something to “get through” in order to prepare for “real life.” College is so much more than job training (or partying). Your undergraduate years offer you a unique opportunity to discover what a complex and interesting place the world is and how you might make a contribution. College is your “real life” right now–that’s a privilege many people would love to have and a rite of passage that may soon disappear. Make the most of it.