Nathan Collins

There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood--as log cabins are traditionally constructed--where lived a country boy named’a Nathan B. Illiterate, which was me! This cabin stood and still stands in the Walden-esque forests 45-minutes north of Chico on the Skyway in a town that was once called Dogtown. The road going up there is just an indentation dynamited into the side of the mountain where, before there were automobiles, they had laid the railroad tracks for that gold mining craze. I almost fell into an old gold mine one time when I was being chased by a very surly mother black bear, but that’s another story. Yessir, I am Butte County born-and-raised. And as such, I was destined for adventure.

Once, when I was sitting on my porch whittling away with my Bowie knife, Henry David Thoreau’s ghost appeared to me and told me that if I didn’t study English at Chico State, I would end up a failure in life and all my dreams would be wasted due to the lack of the ability to express myself in writing, incompetence in critical thinking, and an ignorance of his great works such as Walden; or Life in the Woods. I thought it funny that he told me to read about what I was already doing on a day-to-day basis, but like any good American, I just couldn’t get myself to start an argument with Thoreau’s ghost.

Well, shaken by this apparition’s admonition, I said goodbye to all my animal friends, got in my Model-T Ford which I had inherited from old great-grandfather Illiterate, and blazed a trail down the mountain for the big city of Chico. Once on campus and I’d found the Admissions Department, they straight-away called security on me due to the fact that I was dressed in my buckskins and brandishing a Winchester Model 1873 rifle. After that was all sorted out and we all had a good laugh, my status was changed from conditionally admitted to admitted, and I began my studies.

I ended up in graduate school at Chico State through the mentorship of the great faculty in this department, and through their instruction I was able to change my name to Nathan B. Literate! They set me on the train tracks of intellectual development so I could mine the gold of literary insight. Narrative construction aside, after the excellence of my undergraduate education, I could not walk away from the opportunity to continue working with these professors that I had come to admire so much. And as you can plainly see, I’m interested in American literature—specifically notions of identity as they are shaped and rapidly developed within uniquely American narratives.

I would like to give special thanks to professor Jaxon for teaching me how to approach teaching. I was lost in the woods and she showed me the way. The opportunity to be hired as the instructor of record for an English 130: Academic Writing course is a rarity among graduate schools, and I am honored to be here and doing it.