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Faculty Q+A: Kimberly Andrews, English

by on February 23, 2010 6:59 AM

Name: Kimberly Quiogue Andrews

Position: Lecturer, English Department

Education:  B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 2005; M.F.A., Penn State University, 2009      

Links: "Some Unsettling Connections" by Kimberly Andrews

"Your Inbox. Love, Manila" by Kimberly Andrews


What do you teach?

I teach in the English Department, and within that department I’ve taught English 15, English 50 (Intro to Creative Writing), English 213 (Intro Poetry Workshop), and English 297C (Eating Your Ecology: Food Writing and Environmentalism).

How did you come to Penn State?

I came to Penn State to do my Masters of Fine Arts in poetry about four years ago; I’d recently gotten a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins. I spent about a year or two in between bumming around the American West, teaching people how to ski and serving them beer in bars.

What is it about English that you find interesting?

I’ve always been a bookworm, which is the kind of thing I suspect you’d hear most English people say about the ways in which their careers started. For me, now, it’s the way that language has the power to create whole realities, and the complex ways in which we interact with the written word. It’s infinite, really, which is very cool to me. Weirdly, coolness has a lot to do with it. I like being able to show people how awesome things are — and I happen to think literature is pretty awesome.

In what way do you teach your passion for ecology?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a passion for ecology — I’d like to say that that was the case, but I don’t know nearly enough about the science of ecology to know whether or not I’m passionate about it. What I’m passionate about is the ways in which popular writing, over the past decade or so, has been responsible for an increased awareness in certain kinds of ecological concerns that I think are really important. How I teach that, perhaps predictably, is through a literature lens: how good writing awakens us to a reality through which we’d sort of been slipping unawares; how books have the power to raise cultural awareness; how reading isn’t really dead. How it can move us towards real significant change.

How did you become to be a vegetarian?

I’m not a vegetarian! I think a lot of people think that because I teach a food ecology course, I must necessarily eschew meat. This isn’t the case. What I do eschew is meat you can buy at the grocery store. I don’t buy anything I can’t account for, origin-wise, if it comes from an animal. I buy most of my meat from Beiler Farms at the State College farmers’ market on Fridays. I personally don’t have an ethical problem with eating meat — what I have an ethical problem with is the way that animals are currently raised for food in this country. There’s absolutely nothing defensible about it. It’s horrifying.

What has been your biggest accomplishment as a lecturer of English?

That’s a tough one — you’d have to ask students of mine to get a clearer picture of that, I think. I can’t tell you definitively, in most cases, whether or not I’ve changed someone’s life for the better. I’m hoping I have. To be more concrete, in my own opinion I’m very proud of having pushed English 297C through the system and into reality. It’s a course that my students seem to really want on the curriculum, and that they also seem to think really needs to keep being on the curriculum. That gives me a classic teacher warm-and-fuzzy feeling. Also, I consider every single time I can make someone hate poetry less to be a huge accomplishment. Truly.

How do your students teach you?

Constantly. That’s how they teach me. They teach me in terms of how they learn, they teach me in terms of how they respond, what they like, what they know (they know a lot! Way more than I do, on a huge variety of topics), and what they want to know. You cannot be a good teacher without taking copious notes from your students.

What is one quote that is most significant to you? Why?

Does a poetry snippet count? It’s going to have to, and it’s a bit from Joy Katz’s poem-introduction to her chapbook The Garden Room: “The black wet I walk myself through is the world / I am ashamed of needing, / is meaning.”

I think sometimes as scholars of literature we think we inhabit the world of words, as if these words don’t come from anywhere. But the world holds us. We’d be foolish not to be intensely and constantly aware of it.



Maggie O'Keefe is a StateCollege.com Spring 2010 intern and a Penn State junior majoring in journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]
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