-Former Man Booker Prize Judge Louise Doughty on Brooks Rexroat's Angel of Death
Bachelor of Arts
Morehead State University
Master of Fine Arts
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Brooks Rexroat was raised near Cincinnati, Ohio at the intersection of the Rust Belt and Appalachia: the crossing point of mountain and farm field, boarded mine and shuttered factory, the water that splits north from south. The importance of place has always surrounded him, and it deeply inhabits his characters.
The son of public school teachers, he went to high school with the children of farmers and college with the children of miners. Then tension between circumstance and the transformative power of education were never far from his mind, which caused him to leave a successful career as a writer, reporter, and editor in order to pursue a teaching life.
After earning a Master of Fine Arts Degree in creative prose from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he embarked on a journey in higher education that has included teaching opportunities at open enrollment community colleges, regional public universities, and rigorous private liberal arts colleges. Now based at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, Rexroat is a 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Teaching and Research Scholar at Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University in Siberia, Russia.
The Fiction of Place
From Appalachia and the Rust Belt to Ireland and Eastern Europe, Brooks Rexroat’s stories explore the myriad ways in which people interact with their environments. A 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Teaching and Research Scholar to the Russian Federation, he has also complete fellowships in Ireland (National University of Ireland at Galway) and France (Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellowship) and traveled broadly across the northern hemisphere. Informed by his upbringing at the intersection of the southern Rust Belt and northwestern Appalachia, the geography of life has always been an important piece of his experience, and this sense of exploration routinely filters into his characters and their encounters.
"A teacher's primary job is to encounter every student where they are, and to help them gradually and purposefully elevate their own work."
"In the creative workshop, unfettered imagination collide with dogged hard work. i want my students to see possibility rather than limit, and to develop the bravery to pursue unfettered imagination through careful planning and masterful revision."
"A good literature course is one in which students learn to explore texts with curiosity, detailed reading, critical response. we argue, we write, we respond--we even revise in order to understand choices an author has made and their impact on the text. strong reading is about immersion, and that is how i shape literature courses."
"Courses in workplace writing are every bit as essential to the writer's development (and to the employee's) as basic composition: here, we learn how to apply the theories, functions and skills to the concrete and real work of communicating within an organization, whether be artistic, corporate, social, or religious."
With experience in private and public colleges and universities, Brooks' first priority is to meet students where they are and help them to meet their goals in an honest, straightforward way. Primarily a teacher of creative writing and literature, he has extensive training and experience in all levels of composition as well as workplace writing, writing across the disciplines, and media/journalism.
Rexroat's academic focus and his primary area of scholarship and publication. This year, he is working with a team from the foreign language faculty at Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University in Siberia, Russia to study the effectiveness of prose writing workshops as a component of English as a Second Language instruction. Through the teaching multiple workshops and testing of participant students and a control group, the project will determine whether, and to which extent, the scaffolded work of a prose workshop might be seamlessly and usefully integrated into ESL instruction.
Because students learn, write, and interact different, Rexroat employs a combination of student-led, instructor-led, and collaborative workshops--each course taking a different based on the needs unique abilities of the students. From lecture and exercise to pure, open discussion of work, the workshops are responsive and student-centered from start to finish.
As an emerging voice in the Appalachian and Rust Belt writing scenes, Rexroat takes a particular interest in contemporary American regionalism. He has taught literature courses designed specifically for writers as well as courses directed toward a general student population, but all his courses--whether they examine a specific time and region or span the breadth of literary tradition--include diverse voices and perspectives, both in the reading selection and in the commentaries presented on those works.
From burgeoning engineers at a top public research university and finance majors at a regional teaching college to cohorts of incoming international graduate students and the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business, Rexroat has helped hundreds of students sharpen their workplace communication skills. One of the hardest but most important courses to teach, there is a clear link between creative work and the the difficult imperative an employee faces: to clearly communicate bold new ideas while maintaining cohesion to existing form.