Teaching Life

Teaching Life

Letters from a Life in Literature

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200 pages, 6 x 9 inches
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"I loved all of the incidents from Salwak's own experience as a teacher. They are richly described. There is a lively sense throughout of a working classroom instructor, a passionate man, and a well-educated one, a committed reader who communicates his love of literature to his students. I was applauding as I read these (numerous) passages."—Jay Parini, author, The Art of Teaching

"Dale Salwak has written a profoundly thoughtful and moving meditation on the joys and sorrows of the teaching profession. This book should interest all who teach and all who have had the privilege of learning from a caring teacher."—John Halperin, University of San Diego

"Teaching Life is a fascinating blend of practical advice on teaching, moral inquiry, and personal experience. Its focus moves from the obligation to return exams promptly, to Christianity and Judaism, to Kingsley Amis, to experiencing a parent's death. The unusual range of subjects makes Salwak's book by turns instructive, inspiring, and poignant."—Kenneth Silverman, professor emeritus of English, New York University

"In this remarkable book, Dale Salwak masterfully distills the lessons of thirty-five years of college teaching, weaving them together with illustrative episodes from literature and life. It should be required reading for anyone embarking on a teaching career-and many veterans would surely benefit as well."—John McLaughlin, senior fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Part epistolary memoir, part handbook, Teaching Life reflects on more than three decades of teaching literature and touching the lives of students. Both a reflection on a life in literature and a primer on teaching as a vocation, this soul-stirring work also provides behind-the-scenes stories of many of the authors who have influenced Dale Salwak's career.

Written in response to the sudden death of one of his students, who died tragically in an automobile accident on her way to Salwak's office to talk over her career plans, Teaching Life is an effort to impart lessons to the next generation of teachers: "It was the suddenness of her death, I think, along with the utter loss of so much potential, which struck me forcibly, and I found myself wondering if anything I had said in class had made a difference in her too-short life or, for that matter, in the lives of any of my students."

By turns analytical, reflective, and exhortatory, Teaching Life unselfconsciously captures the fascination, enlightenment, and sheer joy that literary studies can offer professors and students. It also implicitly speaks to society's prevailing-and disturbing-prejudice against the profession.

For the Los Angeles Times coverage, please click here.