Saturday, July 28, 2018

Baylor Transcendent!

In poking around about on the internet, I stumbled upon this short auto-bio piece published in Baylor Magazine (Spring 2009):
Name: Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges, BA in English Literature, '79
Current hometown: Seoul, South Korea (originally from Salem, Arkansas)
Occupation: Professor at Ewha Womans University teaching research-based writing to undergraduates and a graduate course on John's Gospel and Gnosticism
Highest degree earned: PhD in History, UC Berkeley

A career highlight:

I suppose that one highlight of my academic career was obtaining a Fulbright Fellowship in 1989 for doctoral research in Tuebingen, West Germany . . . which quickly became Tuebingen, Unified Germany after the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. I remained until 1995 in Germany, where I met a Korean woman on a train (in 1992) and married her (in 1995).

How did your experience with the Honors Program at Baylor prepare you for your life/career after college?

My Honors Program experience best prepared me for graduate-level seminars because through the program's upper-level courses, I was already familiar with discussion sessions in which we Honors students would intensively discuss important books with committed scholars, both from Baylor and from elsewhere.

But the greater preparation that the Honors Program provided was a confirmation that I could achieve something academically, and be recognized for that, despite having been . . . well, nobody in particular.

Memories from the program:

I can say that several professors at Baylor had a positive influence upon me, sometimes through the Honors Program, sometimes through non-Honors courses. I will mention a few names: Morse Hamilton, Wallace Daniel, Robert Baird, James Vardaman, Thomas Hanks, and Philip Martin.

I took several courses with all of these men, and I could say a great deal about all of them, for they all were fine Baylor gentlemen who inspired me in one way or another. I feel led, however, to remember Mr. Martin -- not because he had more influence, but because he was also a kind man who was less well-known but who deserves remembrance. I had Mr. Martin for German my sophomore year, and I was dreadful in that language though I eventually learned to speak it. My first course with Mr. Martin had me enrolled as an Honors student, but I did nothing "honorable." Indeed, I received a "C" though I probably deserved a "D" if not an "F." I was terrible. But I had perfect attendance and was never late for my 8:00 a.m. class, and Mr. Martin appreciated my consistency . . . even though I was consistently bad in German.

I took his course again in the spring of my sophomore year and did even worse . . . but still received a "C." That semester, we each had to give presentations in German, and I tried to describe my bicycle trip from the Ozarks to Waco -- a trip that I had undertaken to prove to myself that I could ride my bike 500 miles and reach Baylor in time for school. I succeeded in that trip but failed so miserably in my German presentation that Mr. Martin had to ask me to switch to English in order to understand precisely what I had done . . . and when he came to understand that I had ridden a bicycle, not a motorcycle, he was completely won over to my side for the rest of my Baylor career . . . even though I didn't know much German. He even asked me to take his Goethe course, and I did. I received an "A," by the grace of Mr. Martin and the fact that I could write my papers in English. Mr. Martin treated me to lunch off-campus several times, a great boon for a poverty-stricken student like me. I should have thanked him for that. Perhaps I did . . . but hardly enough.

In closing, I ought to remember Professor LeMaster, poet and scholar in the English Department, who guided my senior Honors' thesis and confirmed that I could write well creatively. Without his willingness to accept me as his student, I would not have succeeded, nor would I have finished the Honors Program.
I could go on and on about Baylor, but being quietly fanatical, I'll lapse into silence and just think good things . . . . Besides, I may have already posted on this back in the spring of 2009.



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