Teachers After Hours
English professor writes a book about Brad Pitt
Music students dance during the performance of a drinking song from Verdi’s “La Traviata.”. SHAMARA KING / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR
English professor Dr. Christopher Schaberg is on his way to becoming a twice-published author, but he didn't always want to be a writer.
"No way. In fact, in high school I plagiarized a paper on Shakespeare, which sounds awful to admit - but in a strange way I think it alerted me to the nuances and implications of writing," Schaberg said.
Much has changed since then. Today, Schaberg is a respected professor in the Loyola English Department and is currently working on his second book called "Deconstructing Brad Pitt," which focuses on the many aspects of Brad Pitt as a cultural icon. The book will be published by Continuum- Bloomsbury and is scheduled to come out in February 2014.
According to Schaberg, the idea for his upcoming book started as a half-running joke and half- serious interest point between himself and one of his graduate school professors at Montana State University.
The idea became the basis of a conference paper, and Schaberg's interest was further piqued after he accepted a job offer from Loyola in 2009 and noticed Pitt's curious presence within New Orleans.
Then, earlier this year the idea turned into a reality when Schaberg proposed the concept of the book to Continuum-Bloomsbury. The publishers loved the premise and offered Schaberg a contract.
"Deconstructing Brad Pitt" plans to analyze the actor's role as a cultural icon from several different angles, Schaberg said.
He stresses the fact that although the term "deconstruct" may carry negative connotations, it is actually more positive than people think.
"It doesn't mean you're ripping somebody apart; it means you are seeing them from multiple angles as a more complex and fascinating topic. Sometimes people hear 'deconstruct' and think it means something negative, but it's actually something kind of generous," Schaberg said.
Juggling the roles of being a fulltime professor and an author can be difficult.
But according to graphic design professor and the cover designer for Schaberg's new book, Nancy Bernardo, Schaberg still gives one- hundred percent to his students despite his busy schedule.
"Knowing what I know of Dr. Schaberg, I am certain that he is a professor who believes in intellectual freedom and helping students become independent thinkers," Bernardo said.
English writing senior Lexi Wangler has taken classes with Schaberg and agrees that he is not only a talented professor, but also a passionate writer.
"He likes to write really in- depth literary criticism about real things, which is a really interesting technique. It is a really cool way to go about it I think," Wangler said.
Schaberg said the encouragement he has received from the university has not only made balancing his obligations easier but has also improved the substance of his classes.
"It hasn't been difficult for me because I have been given such fantastic support for my research since I've been here, and I think having that support for my research has made my classes even more exciting and better for both my students and for me," Schaberg said.
Schaberg isn't done yet, either. On top of "Deconstructing Brad Pitt," he also has three other book projects in the works, including a sequel to his first book, "The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flight," entitled "The End of Airports." This may seem like a lot, but for Schaberg, the constant cycle is what he enjoys most about being a writer.
"I find writing to be a good way to turn my mind upside down, shake it, get some old stuff out and make room for new stuff," Schaberg said.
Olivia Lueckemeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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