Many of you out there may be unfamiliar with Dr. Joshua Gooch—one of D’Youville’s newest English professors—but here’s your chance to get to know him. Though only his second year here at D’Youville College, he’s already heavily impacted the way I approach literature and the way I write, and I know that the same can be said for other individuals, too. His high energy and openness to opinions make talking about critical responses of Jane Eyre as painless as is possible.
Having just finished class with him, we try to force our way into the interview as casually as possible. Unfortunately, interviews are hardly casual. It may take some weird turns, but with eccentric personalities coming together, it’s bound to happen. So sit back, and meet Dr. Joshua Gooch.
J: Alright, let’s start with the obvious: What’s your favorite book, and why?
G: Wow, this is a really freighted question for an English professor. Generally when you study something, it becomes difficult to have an uncritical appreciation of it. But if you’re making me choose…..Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. It captures how fiction can represent subjective experience in a globalized world by playing with time and selfish interests.
J: Another fan favorite, why did you become a teacher?
G: Because I wound up with an English PhD?
J: I’m guessing you’re going to want to back that up.
G: I realized at a young age that I’m very bad at selling things to people, but I like helping them. Teaching lets me do that. I also spent a bit of time playing music as a young man, so that made it easier for me to get into a career that involves so much preparation and thinking on my feet. In some ways, teaching is a lot like playing music or cooking. Even when you’re playing a song you’ve played a hundred times before–or using a familiar recipe–you create a new performance, a new product, a new thing in response to your environment and audience. In the same way, teaching is part preparation–the song, the discussion questions–and part improvisation based on who is in the classroom and what’s going on in the world at that moment.
J: Cooking and music?
G: I love to bake bread and listen to Mission of Burma.
J: Fair enough. So, anything else most people don’t know about you? Aside from the bread-baking aspirations.
G: I used to sing in a hardcore punk band. Also, that’s the reason I refer to my right ear as Nate. His drum kit was always on my right side.
J: Hardcore punk band, bread-baking, English professor. These are great qualities. You’ve probably met a lot of interesting people in these lines, who stands out as the most interesting? Or at least the person who’s stood out the most?
J: Final question: If you were to hop in a time machine right now, with all knowledge gained thus far, and jump back to your collegiate years, what would your ideal schedule be? What classes, what times, what curriculum? Or something of that nature…
G: I had a pretty great experience starting at a community college, then finishing up at UC Santa Cruz. One of the things I try to recreate–and that our courses here let me achieve–are the small English seminars I enjoyed as an undergrad.
J: Any final comments?
G: If anyone suggests getting married while jumping out of an airplane, say no. You’ve got more than enough to think about without worrying about your parachute opening.