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Donnie Staggs, Ph.D.

Instructor, Language and Literature

Education

Ph.D. Student, Church History
  • M.A., Historical Theological Studies
  • M.A., Government
  • Classes Taught

    • ENGL 100: Academic Writing Seminar
    • ENGL 101: English Composition
    • ENGL 102: Academic Research and Writing
    • ENGL 245: Foundations of Professional Writing
    • ENGL 260: Rhetoric and Writing in the Professions
    • ENGL 301/501: Tutoring Writing
    • ENGL 345: Art of the Essay
    • ENGL 500: Graduate Academic Writing Seminar
    • GOVT 245: Introduction to Government and Policy

    Research Interests

    The influence of Platonism on early Christian thought, the influence of rhetorical methodology on Augustine's theology of ascension, jazz improvisation and dialectics

    Teaching Philosophy

    Other than life itself, language is perhaps the greatest gift of God we possess. With it, we come to realize who we are in relation to who and what God is. The more we refine our use of language in both the spoken and written mediums, the more we cultivate this gift within us and develop our minds and souls in a way that we could not otherwise. Also, given the Bible's emphasis on Christ as the Word, we have a theological responsibility to ensure that we do not take the gift of language for granted. I try to instill this reality into students as we explore the manner in which other great thinkers and writers use language.

    Moreover, language conveys ideas, and when using these ideas—particularly in a manner that provides for our own intellectual and spiritual edification—a sound professional ethos requires us to acknowledge our indebtedness to the individuals that generated those ideas. Indeed, copyright laws exist for a reason, and it is not simply to secure an individual's profit. The work of others does not belong to us, and this includes ideas. Especially when we use the thinking of others to develop our own are we obligated to acknowledge their energies. Not only is this honest, but it allows us to appreciate what it means to participate in the larger human experience.

    Biography

    I'm a native Texan, which means I'm all about mesquite-smoked BBQ in the company of good friends and family. Like many Texans, I'm half Hispanic and half Caucasian—a cultural phenomenon referred to fondly �down there' as Texican or TexMex. I'm very proud of my bicultural background, and found a place for expressing it as an undergraduate in music, which is my second passion—namely, jazz. Jazz as a genre has followers that are few but intensely loyal, and most are intellectuals of some sort since jazz goes well beyond the blues. I think this, more than anything else, prepared me for a life in higher education because jazz improvisation is dialectics without words and the epitome of affective language. Jazz musicians do not play, in other words; they converse. The converse with one another, with the tradition, and with the future. And like academics, the patterns of those whose shoulders they stand upon is always evident in their sound.

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