Monday, January 19, 2009

Upcoming: 15 More Minutes of Fame!

(Image from Wikipedia)

I'm jumping the gun on this one, but since I've already been made famous through Esquire Magazine, I might as well prefigure the upcoming fame that I'll receive from a Baylor Magazine interview. I recently received an email from a certain Lane Murphy, a writer for Baylor Magazine, who had some questions:

Greetings from Baylor! I hope you had a fine holiday season. I'm working on an article for the next issue of Baylor Magazine celebrating the 50th anniversary of Baylor's Honors Program. If you have five minutes or so over the next few days, I'd like your feedback if possible. I certainly understand if you are unable to help. If your schedule allows, you are welcome to call or email me.
Well, we already know from the previous blog entry just how well those international phone calls work, so I decided to email Mr. Lane Murphy and provide answers to the eight questions that he had included in his communication:

Thank you for your email. I'm pleased to see that I'm not entirely forgotten at Baylor though I didn't leave so much behind to be remembered by. I'll try to respond as best as I can to your questions.

Current hometown:

I have been in South Korea since 1999 and currently live in Seoul, where I have been living now for about four years, but my real hometown will always remain the small Ozark town of Salem, Arkansas.

Current occupation/employer/school:

I am currently a full-time professor at Ewha Womans University (yes, the spelling is correctly incorrect), where I have been employed since the Fall 2008 semester and where I have, so far, taught research-based writing to undergraduates and a graduate course on John's Gospel and Gnosticism.

A career highlight or two:

One highlight that surprised and honored me was the UC Berkeley Eisner Prize that I received in Poetry for 1985. I had only been writing poems for about 6 months, so that came not only as a prize but as a surprise. I have continued to compose poems but have entered no competitions . . . not that I recall, anyway.

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).

Another academic highlight was obtaining a Golda Meir Fellowship in 1998 to Hebrew University in Jerusalem . . . though my wife, Sun-Ae Hwang, was nearly blown up in a suicide bombing in Mahane Yehudah Market in November of 1998. She was pregnant at the time, but the baby was safely delivered six months later in a Palestinian hospital in East Jerusalem.

Year graduated from Baylor:

I graduated in 1979 but never fully left the place. If I were teaching at Baylor, I would wish to be like the professors that I admired when I was an undergraduate. I am certainly as rigorous as they were . . . everywhere that I have taught.

BU degree:

I obtained a BA in English Literature. Actually, I was a double major, in English and Psychology. I lack one two-hour lab course for my Psychology BA but can't even claim a minor in Psychology since Baylor didn't have minors at the time. I don't suppose that Baylor would simply grant me a BA in Psychology now . . . or?

Highest degree earned/school(s) after undergrad:

I have a PhD in History from UC Berkeley.

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.

What was particularly memorable or worthwhile about Honors at Baylor (maybe something about a mentor, a certain class, the thesis process, etc.)?

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 in 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 hope that I have answered your questions sufficiently. If you have any further questions, please feel free to inquire.

You can also learn a lot at my blog.

Thanks again for the email. It gave me an excuse to write about myself . . .
In a follow-up email, I provided a confession that I wasn't entirely upstanding during my years at Baylor:

By the way, did I mention that I was a member of the Honorable NoZe Brotherhood? Some might consider that worth knowing.
Some readers will remember previous posts on the NoZe Brotherhood. As for Mr. Lane Murphy, he seemed satisfied with my response, which I suppose that he will mine for his article on Baylor's Honors Program:

You have provided a wealth of information.
And he added some information of his own:

As for how I found you, I contacted the development office, and they gave me a database of people who had completed the Honors Program. I think sifted through about 700 names and pick 15 or so that had listed diverse locations, careers, graduation dates, etc. I’ve had about five responses thus far. The Honors College is now trying to stay in better touch with its alumni. This is the 50th year of the Honors Program, which made it an opportune time for the magazine to cover Honors at Baylor.
I am . . . ahem, honored. Speaking of honorable mentions, here -- courtesy of Wikipedia -- is a partial inside view of that honorable building depicted above, namely, Armstrong Browning Library:

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At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, one thing, "It gave me an excuse to write about myself . . ."

Well maybe two, that PhD was for "The HISTORY of SCIENCE" was it not?

I only mention that because it took me so many Sundays reading science articles before I found one that finally gave me the proper understanding for what a scientist of history actually did.

I suppose these are just minor things. The first can be cleared up of course should anyone at Baylor actually read here (which I'm certain - though your post here doesn't specifically mention it - but I'll bet the title was included somehow.

As for the second?

Well that little oversight should be taken care of now.


At 6:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sorry, JK, but I'm not clear on your meaning. What, exactly, was the second thing that you suggest that I should write about?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

Jeffery, aren't you subject to flaying or defenestration or some such for "outing" yourself as a NoZe?

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Malcolm, that's only the punishment dealt out to active NoZe Brothers currently enrolled as students at Baylor.

But when one has aged some 30 years, then youthful foibles become anecdotes leavened by chagrin.

Thus does the folly of youth become the wisdom of age.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My nephew almost a dropout in a foreign language class. Now I find out he was once a member of a secret society, with a name eerily reminiscent of another society of WW2 fame. Thankfully, the NoZe (almost rhymes with NoDoZe?) a society specializing in bouncing ping pong balls during academic functions, writing satire and engaged in dumb pranks, then granting honorary memberships to unwilling folks.
Now I can write my true, honest, and compelling stories without fear.
After nephew Jeffery's confessions, I have lost what little respect I once held for him, and no longer worry about his snide remarks. This trait of his was sharpened during his college days that would have been better spent in educational pursuits and promoting worthy causes.


At 6:29 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ach, lieber Unkel Cran:

Meine Ruh' ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich finde sie nimmer
und nimmer mehr.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only response is......HUH?
Vat you sez?
A bewieldered uncle.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Alas, dear Uncle Cran:

My peace is gone,
My heart is sore,
I find it never
and never more.

- Goethe

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Nephew:

Don't take my comments to heart....just another dissing session between two friends who also happen to be relatives.

Don't pay no 'tintion,
to a hillbilly rindition

(still friends?)


At 5:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Friends? Hell no, we're kinfolk! I can pick my friends.

But don't worry your cotton-pickin' heart -- as Tennessee used to say -- because I've got a thick skin.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well............still relatives anyway!
But how do you divorce a relative other than a spouse?
Just asking.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I believe that there's a procedure known as "disowning" . . . but that's only necessary to preclude legal claims by close relatives (I think).

If I do happen to have any legal claims on your property, then I'd be quite prepared to maintain good relations with you and avoid being disowned.

Let me know...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will have to get in line behind three sons & their heirs, then the hospital, doctors, and possibly nursing home.....but GOOD LUCK!
I am not blessed with a thick skin....but with a thin skin that is scabbed and crusted over by personal attacks by an unnamed near relative, whose name will never be mentioned. This works well until occasionally a verbal assault on an unnamed blogspot rips off a scab, thus causing great pain and bleeding.
But rest assured, dear nephew, you will be remembered in some as yet undetermined manner.

At 9:28 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Behind "three sons & their heirs, then the hospital, doctors, and possibly nursing home"?

And only then . . . me? I had no idea so many relatives preceded me as heirs! Even, possibly, a nursing home? How can you possibly be related to a nursing home?

Never mind, I don't want to know.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


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