Gary Thompson

 

Gary Thompson

Professor’s Thompson‘s doctoral work was in American literature, particularly 19th and 20th century, and those periods make up most of his literature offerings for the English department. However, approximately half of his teaching is in writing courses, and in recent years his professional work has been largely in the area of rhetoric. He published a textbook in 1997 (Rhetoric through Media), and has presented regularly at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and other professional conferences. In 1982-83 he was one of SVSU’s first two Fulbright Professors, accepting an appointment at Marie Curie-Sklodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin, Poland, and he received a second Fulbright to teach in 1987-88 at University of Gdańsk. He has drawn on those experiences to develop general education courses in Central European literature. Recent research interests are focused on performance studies as connected with both rhetoric and literature.

 

I was fortunate enough to be selected as UMCS’s Fulbrighter early in my university career, 1982-84, and could watch at first hand as university faculty who became my close friends held together and did their work in evil times. Solidarność had been driven underground by the General in the Sunglasses, there were demonstrations at Plac Lubelski on selected historical dates, meat was rationed, the air was thick with coal and diesel smoke, but what mattered was somehow to move ahead with culture and learning despite all that. My then-young friends have become your senior faculty: Ola Kędzierska, who courageously showed me so much of what I wouldn’t otherwise have known about Poland; Irmina Wawrzyczek, selected as my “shepherd” but still gracious and wonderfully humorous; Jurek Kutnik, ambitious and wryly humorous; Zbigniew Mazur, who was at the time a 5th-year student; the imperious and gracious Jola Szpyra; and Joanna and Jerzy Durczak, warm and intellectual and kind. Others I knew less well are still active presences in the English Institute. The post-’89 generation has—like Americans—the luxury to be apolitical and even ahistorical. Someone I spoke with at the time, when asked about emigration, told me that “We want what you have there, but here.” Nearly 30 years later, that is accomplished, and it has been my privilege to see both the before and the after.

<Back