Thursday, August 16, 2012

Georgia on my Mind

There is much to report since my last blog post, but a man must start somewhere. So, for now, I want to address all of my new students who might be furiously trying to Google their new professor and want to know, "Who is this guy and what is he doing in Georgia?"

My name is Jason Tondro and I am the newest English professor at the College of Coastal Georgia. CCGA is a school in transition, moving from a community college to a four year institution offering Bachelor degrees. I was very flattered to be invited to interview several months ago and even more delighted to be given the opportunity to come here. A lot of people have asked me, "Why Georgia?" Well, the true answer to that question is that I go where the work is. I loved Southern California -- I have friends and family there, and UC Riverside is just one sprawling comfort zone for me -- but this is a very bad time to be an educator in California. The cuts to the educational system are demoralizing and they hurt the students, which makes every day a kind of walking, talking tragedy. I was more than happy to leave an environment of disappointment.

Now, Georgia has its own financial questions to answer, and the Georgia state college system, of which CCGA is a part, is hardly made of money. But CCGA in particular is growing; it is building dormitories and student facilities, it is renovating classrooms and offices, it is creating programs instead of eliminating them. And that is where I want to be. So while the short answer was, "I go where the work is," the long answer is, "I go where I enjoy being." That these two places happen to be the same place is a stroke of good fortune to which I am not blind.

For those of you who are new to the blog and to me, my training and background is in Medieval and Renaissance literature (effectively everything in English from Beowulf to Milton) and in comics and graphic novels. My book, Superheroes of the Round Table, is about the ways in which superhero comics like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Justice League can help us read and understand more traditional texts like Shakespeare and Arthurian legend. It was enormous fun to write. I also have about a decade of experience teaching writing at the freshman level, in composition classes at many different universities and colleges. I'm a writer myself, not just of academic articles but of novels, short stories, poetry, blogs and more. I've written comic scripts and film scripts and many of them were very bad, but I learned a lot.

This semester I am teaching one section of ENG 1101, which is freshman composition, and one section of 1102, which is composition and literature. I have one traditional section of World Lit I, which is lit up to 1650 (Milton) and therefore precisely in my wheelhouse. I also have two online sections of the same class, so we will all be learning and experimenting there together in an attempt to not only master the material but also build some kind of student-teacher relationship. I don't want you to be only a number to me, and I presume and hope you do not want me to be merely a number to you.

Students looking to reach me can do so easily at