Part epistolary memoir, part handbook, Teaching Life reflects on more than three decades of teaching literature and touching the lives of students. Both a reflection on a life in literature and a primer on teaching as a vocation, this soul-stirring work also provides behind-the-scenes stories of many of the authors who have influenced Dale Salwak's career.Written in response to the sudden death of one of his students, who died tragically in an automobile accident on her way to Salwak's office to talk over her career plans, Teaching Life is an effort to impart lessons to the next generation of teachers: It was the suddenness of her death, I think, along with the utter loss of so much potential, which struck me forcibly, and I found myself wondering if anything I had said in class had made a difference in her too-short life or, for that matter, in the lives of any of my students. By turns analytical, reflective, and exhortatory, Teaching Life unselfconsciously captures the fascination, enlightenment, and sheer joy that literary studies can offer professors and students. It also implicitly speaks to society's prevailing - and disturbing - prejudice against the profession.
Dale Salwak is a professor of English at southern California's Citrus College and a recipient of Purdue University's Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the author of numerous books, including Kingsley Amis: Modern Novelist and Carl Sandburg: A Reference Guide, and the editor of The Wonders of Solitude, Anne Tyler as Novelist (IOWA, 1994), Philip Larkin: The Man and His Work (IOWA, 1989), and The Life and Work of Barbara Pym (IOWA, 1987).