e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu



I love teaching Patti Smith's amazing memoir. Today my students shared such disparate readings of Patti's representation of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

I'm constantly amazed at the ways students connect with Smith's story despite being part of a different generation, a different walk of life (many of the students are Muslim, the children of recent immigrants, with little affinity for leaving family to live the arts in NYC), and a different sensibility.

One of the first issues of College Composition and Communication I received in the mail--while still in my M.A. program--included an interchange between Geoffrey Sirc and Seth Kahn about the viability of a punk rock pedagogy. Sirc raised concerns about how he wouldn't want to feel "like Alan Bloom playing his students Mozart records." I confess to playing my students youtube videos of CBGBs in the interest of contextualizing Patti Smith.

Smith's book provides an occasion for interesting writing. I likely have greater affinity for Patti Smith than my students, but the students and I share an interest in storytelling, writing about identity, and using writing as a place to make sense of our complicated relationships to dominant culture, whatever that might mean.

Punk rock pedagogy? Nah, not really. Just reading, talking, and writing.

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