Get to know Andrew Slade

Andrew SladeA Florida native, Andrew Slade went to two high schools: one in Middletown, Ohio and one in Spokane, Washington. He attended university in Seattle, spent a year in France, earned his PhD in Belgium and lived in New York for four years. These are the least interesting things about him.

He works in the sublime — the aesthetic of awesome power that gives a "momentary check on our vital forces," he said, quoting Kant. The importance of clinical practice in psychoanalytic work inspires the master’s degree in counseling he is working toward. Andrew experiences work as a compulsion, and he experiences others' work as compulsive information-seeking behavior; an interesting take on passion.

His latest compulsion: cinematic depictions of masculinity in the United States. Because he doesn’t believe professors should teach things they’re not working on, Andrew’s research history is as deep as his teaching base. Shoving his mop of brown hair to the side and straightening the raincoat crumpling against the back of his chair, he read lines from books on courtly love traditions and Cappalenous' four phases of a love affair. He quoted the line upon which sits monogamy. His voice fell slightly as he explained his involvement in sexual violence campaigns on campus, but rose once again with anticipation for an experimental, sex-ethics curriculum he is developing for the spring.

"I'm saddened every time I hear about [sexual violence]," he said. "The best thing that I can do is listen without judgment. In the last three years, I've not talked about sex and gender norms [...] I've not talked about addiction in every class." Admittedly, he is not a moral crusader, "but literature and film are full of all of this stuff."

Andrew is particularly looking forward to breaching these subjects in a new course for Spring Term 2013 on courtly love traditions, as in knights and fair ladies and quests. He'll approach the topic from an entirely psychoanalytic perspective, in the ethics of desire.

Andrew's passionate, romantic way with academia is not lost on his students. Thank you cards line his windowsill and the inbox on his MacBook holds testimony to his teaching. "'This was the best course; you teach about real [stuff],' I kept that email for a very long time," he said.

Andrew emphasizes that the gratification of teaching is not always instant. "You never know when your teaching is going to hit the mark," he said. Some students will come back years later and say they were deeply effected, such as the PhD student who emailed him in appreciation of the literary theory Andrew taught him years ago.

"I do what I do as authentically, as honestly and as well as I can. I try to do that consistently and I just believe that it will hit the mark eventually," he said. "I believe in teaching. I believe that students learn at their own pace and when they're ready for it. I hope that students have successful lives."

A word of advice on obtaining that success, particularly in the English department: "Read. Just read. Read everything." While he can't give a blanket recommendation for inspirational titles, Marguerite Duras is held in high regard, particularly for women — his first daughter is named for the author and her novel "The Ravishing of Lola Schtein." To college-age men he recommends Chuck Palinook, author of the "Fight Club."

Andrew's office is every parent's worst nightmare. His collection of looseleaf papers is piled and strewn about, cluttering the spaces adjacent to, behind, underneath and around his typewriter in a system only he can keep track of. "I have stacks," he explains.

Andrew writes every single day. October brought the switch from handwriting all his work to banging it out on an IBM Selectric typewriter he acquired from the health and sport science department. "I like that this is so tactile," he says. The machine turns on with the flick of a switch, whirring to life. He clicks the wheel a few times and hits a few loud, clunky keys. "It feels like writing."

There's more to Andrew than his typewriter and stacks. He walks with his children and hikes alone in the woods, and coaches soccer. "I do very normal things," he said. "I've always like bookish things." Had he not taken the path he chose for himself at 17 years of age, being a college professor, "I think it would be fun to be a curator."