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March 2018--Becky Tracy

March 2018

Interview by Elizabeth Roush

Becky Tracey Tell me about your background!

I grew up in the Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee in a city called Knoxville. I moved to California in January of 2008, so I’ve been here a little over 10 years now. I have a twin sister who also teaches in higher education—she is a History professor at the University of Georgia in Athens. She and I only see each other maybe once a year, but we are in constant contact. And yes, we do look exactly alike—down to the blue hair.

What do you like to do for fun?

I like to laugh. My husband and I watch a film together at least 5 nights a week, and we stick to action and comedy these days. I also enjoy reading, playing with my new kitten (Clementine), and playing games with my friends like Cards Against Humanity.

What’s your “teacher story,” or, how did you begin teaching writing, and why are you still doing it?

I recall sitting as an undergraduate (undeclared) in a Literature class and wondering why I was pretending like I might want to do anything else than what I saw my instructor doing. Reading and writing—discussing literature, essays, films, etc.—AND getting paid to do so? Sign me up! I decided I wouldn’t stop going to college until I could teach at one. Now, I’m here and it is every bit as amazing as I’d hoped it would be.

What are your research interests, and why did you choose those?

That’s a heavy question for someone who still wishes she was back in her graduate school program (because this nerd loved grad school so-freaking-much!). My focus was on pedagogy—specifically feminist pedagogy. However, most of my literary papers were rooted in Cultural Studies, New Historicism, and Critical Race Theory. I choose these theories to root my research as a way of exploring the paradox of social construction: we write as a way to construct our world while understanding that we are also being constructed by it.    

What is your favorite part about teaching general writing courses?

Our campus is a community, and I enjoy that my job within the community is making sure that everyone is communicating clearly with one another. In practicing writing, I get to learn who my students are and how they contribute to the dynamic of this CSUSM community.

Do you have a favorite memory of a student?

My first semester teaching, a student of mine told me I was “badass.” I’m still pretty excited that at least one person on this planet thinks that.

What advice do you have for GEW students?

Practice writing! It takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. Writing is no exception. I tell my students that I’m looking for growth, not perfection. Growth comes from putting in time to practice a skill.

Any books you would recommend?

How much time do you have? Some books that have meant a great deal to me (as a student, educator, or in my personal life) in no specific order:

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Stephen King’s On Writing
  • Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
  • Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
  • Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior
  • bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress & Teaching Community
  • J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
  • Anything and everything by Adrienne Rich