English / Communications
David Langston, Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1977
M.Div., Union Theological Seminary, 1971
B.A., Oklahoma Baptist University, 1967
Tues, Thurs: 11-12
Wed: 10-11 -- and by appointment
Comparative literature, literary theory, film, romanticism, modernism, post-modernism.
My teaching and research both focus on the suggestion that story telling is central to every social and cultural activity. My courses and scholarship bring the specifics of individual texts -- whether lyric poems, television advertisements, or epic films -- into conversation with larger patterns of storytelling. Every specific text is shaped by a big pattern, but more importantly the big pattern is being evaluated and changed by the individual text. Studying cultural message systems in this way means we need to understand social systems, to be savvy about political and artistic history, and to be judicious about the dynamics of artistic form.
My training has been varied: as an undergraduate, I majored in history, and then I pursued theology, philosophy, and modern literature in graduate school. But respect for close textual analysis is central to all those fields, and I consider the pleasures of close reading to be the beginning and end -- the motive and the goal -- of every formulation of cultural theory. I am currently completing a research project on Henry James's novel, The Golden Bowl.
Teaching at MCLA is always fresh and invigorating because the students raise insistent and interesting questions about the relevance and implications of their studies. The college is small enough that I get to know my students as individuals, and it is big enough to sustain an array of communities of interest.
Two years ago, Margaret Edson delivered a stirring commencement address at Smith College where she espoused one vital dimension of teaching:
Classroom teaching is a physical, breath-based, eye-to-eye event.
It is not built on equipment or the past.
It is not concerned about the future.
It is in existence to go out of existence.
It happens and then it vanishes.
Classroom teaching is our gift.
It's us; it's this. [text]
Mark Hopkins 104A | 413-662-5482 | e-Mail: David.Langston@mcla.edu