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accents on english | fall 18-spring 19

Jacob Greene, Assistant Professor (Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies)

In his first year as an assistant professor in the Department of English, Jacob “Jake” Greene describes Arizona as “strangely familiar.” At the University of Florida—where he earned his PhD—Greene says that people often talked about the weather. Florida, as he described it, has a “unique identity connected to the land.” There are bugs and leaves everywhere. It storms all the time. It’s wet.

And when he came to Arizona, he experienced a similar discourse about the rhetoric of place—but in a different way. He told me, “The discourse that brings people together [in Arizona] is talking about small changes in the heat.” We laughed as he described how people will know what buildings to walk by for shade. He sees Arizona as situated the same (in its uniqueness)—but just in a different way. “There’s something familiar about being in a place that’s so ‘unique’ in its environment. It’s a ‘quirky’ kind of space.”

Greene (who specializes in digital rhetoric) teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in writing, rhetorics and literacies and gets to talk “practice” with his wife Julie (an English teacher at a charter school in Phoenix). He told me that he has learned a lot about classroom practice from her—especially in the area of peer review. When I asked him what he loves about teaching, he said, “Introducing new ideas to students—especially things that they think they understand commonly.” Greene talked about considering ideas on a cultural scale. He enjoys the process of “asking [students] to look outside of themselves and step out of their immersion in culture and look at it from a different angle.”

Greene is also into podcasting. In graduate school, he developed a podcasting course, “Writing through Podcasts,” and hopes to eventually teach it here. He described how students could find something they were interested in and “go deep into one mode (rather than trying to do everything).” Greene also asked students to situate their work by raising the question: “How is this existing in a larger media ecology?”

If you visit Greene in his office, you may share the space with a large orange bike. He loves cycling and is considering taking up mountain biking. He and his wife also enjoy exploring. You can find them trying out new breweries (Wren House Brewing in Phoenix has become a favorite; he even taught me about the “Untappd” App where he rates craft beers). And over Thanksgiving break last fall, they ventured to the Grand Canyon.

Being from the Southeast, Greene is looking forward to touring the western part of the country. So while Arizona is “strangely familiar” in some ways, he and his wife are ready to explore.

—Meghan Bacino

Image: ASU photo of Jacob Greene.