A Profile on English Instructor Joseph Stitt

by Vann Jackson

Joseph Stitt is one of the wonderful faces of the English faculty whose eccentric nest rests in the Berte Humanities building at BSC. Unlike Ashe, McInturff, Archer, Tatter, or the other professors who teach higher level English studies, few of the English students really know about Stitt.

We’ve seen him, sure, but none of us really know that much about him. To correct that, I’ve asked Stitt a few questions.

Give us your stats--previous jobs, stuff like that.

I’ve been at BSC since 2011. Before I came here, I was in the English department at UAB. Before that I worked as a consultant for an environmental business-to-business startup, GreenThink.com. Before that – in the late ’90s – I was a writer and content director for a comedy website called Hecklers Online. 

Did you plan on being a professor?

I wouldn’t say that I planned on teaching, but it followed naturally from being fond of words and art and ideas. And I’m glad it followed. Trying to communicate the value of words and art and ideas can be very rewarding.

That makes sense. I’m glad you’re here.

Thank you!

What have you published?

I’ve published short stories, essays, book reviews, and parodies of advice columns. When I worked for Hecklers Online, I wrote just over a thousand humor pieces. Trying to be funny in print that many times probably wasn’t good for my psyche, but it certainly helped me hone my writing skills.

A thousand pieces? I have no idea how you did it. Shame about your psyche, though.

Oh, don’t I know it.

Tell us some random facts about you.

I love fried okra and chicken madras, but not together. A mildly interesting thing about me is that I like grading papers with #1 pencils because I don’t have to press down so hard.

(I didn’t know that about #1 pencils!) If you’re comfortable, could you talk about your family?

I’ll get excruciatingly sappy if I talk about my family. The only thing I’ll say is that I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my life surrounded by remarkable, remarkably-strong women.

Okay, last question. What’s a hobby or interest you have that people would be surprised to know?

I don’t think in terms of hobbies so much as in terms of enthusiasms. I get enthusiastic about various subjects the way some children get enthusiastic about dinosaurs. I’ve gone in for birds, butterflies, John Maynard Keynes, the history of boxing, education policy, crime statistics, the problem of pseudo-scientific and conspiracy-theory thinking, scholasticism, P. G. Wodehouse, and, a long time ago, dinosaurs. Though there’s a lot to be said for pursuing knowledge systematically, it’s good to leave yourself some time to follow your curiosity wherever it leads.

Stitt, although quiet and unassuming for an English professor, has a very amiable personality. Even if you never get a chance to take a class with him (and I really do recommend writing workshop as it’s just a blast), I certainly recommend at least talking with him when he has the time. He is rather easy, and even fun, to talk to, and, with his varied interests, is pretty much a “professor of all things.”

Photo by Emy Pickens

A similar version of this was published in a Bagheera print issue in the spring of 2018.