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Faculty Highlights

Jacob Strona

March 2014

Jacob Strona

Alright, Jacob, let’s get started. If you were lost at sea on a raft with only a lantern, a 3-gallon jug of water, a pen, and sack full of lemons and were being charged by a great white shark, how would you take it down?

Okay, so I would take it down by jumping onto his back and rubbing the lemons into his eyes and then somehow harness him to my raft so I could use him. I couldn’t use the lantern ‘cause I’m afraid of the dark, and not the water ‘cause I know I’d need it.

Cool. What were you like as a student writer?

I was a procrastinator. I utilized peer groups a lot. I liked to engage with my writing partners a lot. I took it seriously: peer reviews. I used to try and see how many different classes I could relate their research paper together

Ah, yeah, yeah!

So if I was taking a lit theory class and a Blake survey, I would try to use Lit theory to apply to Blake.

Cool. You’d look for intersection.

Yeah, look for intersections. I would get really caught up in the research: sometimes overwhelmed by the research.

How long have you been teaching and why do you teach writing?

End of spring will be two years. And I teach writing because I like to interact with the students. My favorite part is reading student writing and the writing in general. I like to help students see the personal transformative power of writing. I like that. And the social transformative power of writing. I like to see students mature and realize their voice. I wanna promote transfer, so whatever they gain from my class they can apply to whatever major they’re moving on to.

Okay, cool. I was going to ask what outcome do you feel is most important for GEW student writers to achieve by the end of the semester, and why? Would you say that’s it, transfer…

Yeah, being able to take those threshold concepts they’ve learned—like that writing is rhetorically driven and situational or that writing isn’t about being right or wrong but about having strong or weak arguments and then having to backup those argument with supporting evidence—taking that and utilizing those skills in the different disciplines. So yeah, promoting transfer across the curriculum.


And also understanding the difference between the false notion of objectivity and to understand the voice of the student writer and the subjective nature of writing.

So you hope the student will understand that?

Yeah so they understand that they don’t lose themselves for the sake of performance in the academy. So they don’t sell themselves out. So they can embrace their individual voice within the confines of the academy.

What’s your approach to teaching GEW? Themes? Content? Assignment types?

I don’t have thematically based classes. My central theme for the class is writing. I’m driven by Wardel and Downs’ Writing about Writing pedagogy where the writing process itself is the topic. I’m not an environmentalist, I’m not a cultural studies guy. We’re always writing in every class. We begin the class writing; we end the class writing. And we write in different modes, so it’s always an individual process, but we might break up into groups and do some collaborative writing.

What is your favorite thing about GEW?

I get to teach true freshmen. It is an introductory course into academic life. It is as much about socialization and success skills as it is about writing, you know? It’s about so much metamorphosis as freshmen, changing from that, and understanding their freedoms.

Outside of school, you are or do what?

I’m a dad. Husband. I surf, I work out, I surf, I lift, play volley ball, ski, outdoorsy stuff. It would be really pathetic to say I’m also really into composition theory.

Yeah, you just read books all the time. But that other stuff explains why you’re so good at taking down sharks.

Yeah that’s right!

What is something you will not eat, no matter what, and why?

Oh, uh, I don’t like super fishy fish. I wouldn’t eat catfish or anything gamey. It’s an acquired taste, and I just never acquired it.

What is the best thing you’ve read, watched, and listened to recently and why?

Uh, I don’t know. I’ve been watching a lot of Portlandia! It is hit or miss, but when it hits it is super funny. Um, music-wise, Beck has a new album out. That’s the kind of thing I like.

What do you believe GEW students should be reading, watching, and listening to, and why?

Whatever they want to watch or listen. I mean…


I don’t want to be prescriptive. I mean as long as they are doing it, it is completely up to them.

Why should CSUSM students care about writing and what resources on campus do you support or recommend to student wanting to engage writing that has real and lasting impact?

Okay I would definitely encourage going to the writing center. I would also encourage them getting together outside the classroom in writing groups, finding a partner or friend that they can trust to share their writing with. I would encourage them to as they become sophomores, juniors, and seniors, to stay in contact with their GEW instructors. Send them papers here and there. To collaborate.

Cool, man. Thanks a lot.

Yeah. That was painless.