As a man well versed in the literary arts, you must be a great storyteller. What is John Knapp’s story?
I'll pass over the more sensational details of the tale, like my playing in a band on the strip in Hollywood, or working on the show "Modern Marvels" for The History Channel. Physically, I grew up around Denver; in more interesting ways, I grew up in L.A. I attended Occidental College, where I earned my BA in English and Comp Lit in 1996. Then my wife and I moved east for a while: I earned my master's (1998) and doctorate (2003) in eighteenth-century English lit at the University of Virginia. In addition to UNM, I've taught literature and academic writing at Virginia, Scripps College, Cal State Northridge, Pasadena City College, and the College of Santa Fe.
How are things going with the satire course you are teaching this fall here at our campus?
I'm thrilled that the English department suggested I lead a 400-level seminar in 18th-century lit. For a number of reasons, I decided to focus on a genre that was popular then and is still popular today: Satire. We're reading the eighteenth-century Dream Team of satirists—Pope, Swift, and Gay—and then we'll examine their 21st-century descendants, particularly Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, to see what the genre supplied to each culture and period. It may come as a surprise to students that the eighteenth century in Britain—despite the powered wigs, snuffboxes, and knee pants—was maybe the century most like ours. It was an attack culture filled with hypocrisy, fabrication, accusation, and sharply divided political parties. I hope students come to see that the 1700s were way more nasty and interesting (both good things!) than they had previously assumed.
As a teaching professional, please extol for us the benefits and value of a well-rounded liberal arts education.
You certainly don’t have to be a teacher to understand that the world only benefits from broadly educated people. People, I mean, who are thoughtful, curious, never too sure of themselves, and always eager to know more; who can seek out and assess different modes and methods of thought as a way to improve their own thinking. It's only the disingenuous person who argues that the worthiness of the liberal arts—languages, literature, history, psychology, social-physical-life sciences, math, the arts, philosophy, religion, ethnic studies—needs to be defended. These fields of study make students effective communicators, thoughtful colleagues, and informed citizens, including students in the vocational disciplines and trades. The more you educate yourself in the liberal arts, the stronger you'll be as a person.
Now it’s time for a little Mad Libs-Cosmo Quiz fill in the blank action. The best thing about UNM West is:
it offers West Siders (and those open-minded enough to venture off the main campus) a high-caliber education in a great setting.
It really makes all the difference in the world when:
you have the unflagging support of the local community, which Rio Rancho's recent election made crystal clear (yet again).
If it wasn’t for UNM West I: would probably start a Thin Lizzy cover band.
I am not going to lie. I had to google Thin Lizzy. We can apparetly thank them for the hit song "The Boys are Back in Town." It's a good thing UNM West is here saving the world from another ill advised cover band.
Thanks UNM West. Continue to keep up the good work and in the future:
I hope the metro area takes notice of what a great resource UNM West is and the endless potential it possesses.