Teacher Feature with English Professor and Hayward Award Winner, Marilyn Brock

As we celebrate Women's History Month at Coastline College, the school proudly presents its faculty with the Teacher Feature Series. This week showcases Marilyn Brock, English Professor at Coastline. Professor Brock was also recently the recipient of the Hayward Award!

Coastline professor Marilyn Brock

How long have you been teaching at Coastline College?

I’ve been teaching at Coastline College for fifteen years.

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What do you love about working at Coastline?

For many years, the English and Humanities Department was so inspiring and interesting to me. Ken Leighton was originally my department chair, and it’s been a dream to come far enough in my career to be able to now serve as co-chair with such a Coastline hero! I have met some of my favorite people ever from within my department and other places around the college.

Professor Brock's son Darren and daughter Madeleine

What can you tell students about the English courses you teach?

My classes…well, I’m very creative about how I teach, and the topics are meant to make a real difference in my students' lives. I hope the material can be used as “equipment for living” (to quote English critic Kenneth Burke).

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What are some of your favorite interests and authors?

What I love about my favorite authors is what I love about my major interest (fiction writing). Both envelop me in this kind of fantastical universe where a story unfolds in a relatively logical, transcendent way, and the journey is equally as magnetic whether by the realization of my purpose within the author’s world or my own. But going back to my favorite authors, (and I can’t say just one…sorry), I have a few favorites. I’d have to start with Toni Morrison and Jazz, which made me experience the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and the romantic story set in the middle of it, which were times, people, and places I would have never otherwise known. I taught Beloved and other novels, such as The Bluest Eye, at the University of Cincinnati, which was so exciting because Morrison was born and raised in nearby Lorain, Ohio. Cincinnati was on the north side of the underground railroad, so to be able to teach Morrison to large classes of students in this location was unforgettable. I’m always moved by novels that animate the regrettable truths about political realities, such as Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water about Ted Kennedy or Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate about Lyndon B. Johnson, and I love the short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Alice Munro, and Eudora Welty. I have quite a personal history of writing fiction, and some of my favorite memories are times I spent around renowned authors, like the night Maxine Hong Kingston invited me and several other conference presenters back to her house in Hawaii to discuss Vietnam Veterans--or the summer I spent in Saratoga Springs at the New York Summer Writing Institute when author Rick Moody started calling me “Woolfie” because he said my writing reminded him of Virginia Woolf. Seriously, nostalgia is one of the best parts of the human condition, isn’t it?

Professor Brock's cat Cleopatra

Do you prefer reading books on a tablet or a good, old-fashioned hard copy?

Well, I’d pick an old-fashioned hard copy on a super comfortable recliner, unless I’m out waiting somewhere, then a tablet works fine.

Coastline's English Program

What can you tell us about how you feel being a recipient of the Hayward Award?

Amazing. It’s such an honor. I work with so many wonderful people, and this is just the icing on the cake.

congratulations message for Dr. Brock for earning the Hayward Award

What are some tips for students to write a successful essay?

When I was an undergrad, I used to free write to get my ideas flowing or make lists. Many writers are just better at it because they spend more time in the planning and editing stages. Try to find a point of view in an argument that no one’s heard - a new perspective that will have an impact on the discourse.

About the Teacher Feature Series: We are fortunate and lucky to have such great professors like professor Brock. With her dedication and teachings on English courses and literature, students will have a great experience in her English courses. Stay tuned for our next teacher feature with Kelly Ruppert.