backAmong Johndan's Texts

On Johndan
Cindy Selfe (more Facebook reminiscing)

In the very first years of Michigan Tech's PhD program in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, we weren't at all confident that our institutional reputation or our lack of experience in preparing graduate scholars for interviews would allow us to really help students navigate the highly competitive job market, especially during the initial interview process at the MLA, which was not always kind to composition folks, let alone computer-based scholars.

The whole affair was daunting to us. We had, in short, very little understanding of what we were doing, and we knew it.

When Johndan finished his dissertation (one of the first, if not the first in our new program), he and I went to the MLA convention in New York City. I sat in the hotel lobby, watching streams of well-dressed, highly coached, sophisticated candidates stride by on their way to their interviews—black cashmere or wool coats, navy blue suits and snazzy ties, gleaming wing tips, leather briefcases or over the shoulder book bags, self possessed smiles.

And, then, Johndan appeared—he had, fortunately left his Sorrells in Houghton, but he sported what could only be identified as a Yooper haircut and bit of a wild beard, what I assumed was a borrowed sport coat, scuffed brown shoes, an earring (if I remember correctly), and a ratty back pack. He was indomitable; he was brilliant; he was ready.

His interviews went splendidly. The smart schools saw right through his disguise and recognized the original and innovative scholar that he was. The profession was lucky that day and for years after. ✌