Imagine meeting your first love the moment you learned how to read. For one ETSU professor, this was the case.
“I love that great literature gives us something new every time I read or teach it, even if it is a text I have read dozens of times,” said Dr. Joshua Reid. “It changes because I have changed, and the work of literature is reading me as much as I am reading it. I love literature because when you read, you are never alone. So many of these texts have become my guides in life.”
Reid has been a professor in the Literature and Language Department at the university since 2012.
“I love seeing my students grow over the years here at ETSU,” he said. “I always love to see students in my classes who have taken me before, since I can rely on what they bring to the table. One of the reasons I love to teach so much is that my students reveal new ways of looking at these texts I love so much. They inspire me with their optimism and their energy, and they teach me with their unique perspectives on life and literature.”
While Reid is a beloved professor, he did not originally start out on the path to teaching. He didn’t choose the teaching life, the teaching life chose him.
“For a while I had thought of writing professionally, and I was a journalism major in addition to an English major at first, but I had always felt the pull of teaching. Teachers were the greatest influences in my life, and I always felt most invigorated when I taught in the classroom. In the end, I felt like teaching was my calling. Joseph Campbell says to follow your bliss, and that is what I have been doing.”
For Reid, there is great benefit in teaching old literature.
“I love the challenge of teaching old literature,” he said. “In many ways, I feel like my classroom is a reanimation chamber, bringing an old text back to life. It is so rewarding to see a work from hundreds of years ago still speak to my students where they are today. For example, I once heard from a student how an episode from Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene,’ a poem written in 1590, helped her get past a difficult moment in her life.”
Reid is known on campus for caring about his students and how they perceive the texts they read.
“I want my students to be the best versions of themselves,” he said. “That is why I spend a lot of time in my introductory classes on Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset: I want my students to know that they are meant to grow and meant to thrive. And because literature reads us as much as we read literature, because it interrogates our belief systems and our life journeys, it helps us grow and refine ourselves. Dante believed that we are works of art, chiseled over time. I want my students to see themselves as works of art.”
For anyone thinking about becoming an English major, Reid has some words of encouragement about the study itself and the job market.
“Becoming an English major is a great choice, and not just for those who love to read and write,” he said. “English majors, contrary to the persistent myth out there, are doing very well on the job market. I would love to talk to anyone who is interested about the English degree program and about job prospects upon graduation. And even if an English major is not right for a student, an English minor makes for a wonderful compliment to any major, as the written and oral communication skills you will gain from the minor will make you even more competitive in the job market.”
Reid teaches British Literature I and II, European Literature, Bible as Literature, and Milton and His Age. He is also the main organizer of the bi-yearly Milton Marathon.
For information on taking Reid’s classes, you can contact him at email@example.com.